Community Building January 24, 2020

How do you really become a part of an online community? (Indie Hackers for example)

Jeremy @Grendorf

I've been on the outskirts of many communities through the years. Indie Hackers, Hacker News, a couple subreddits. I will post and add comments when I can add value, but I've never really felt a part of an online community. I've even had voice chats with people.

I'm wondering about others experiences and what they do. How do you feel a part of an online group? Or maybe its just me having unrealistic expectations of what its like to be a part of an online community. I kind of imagine having like a group of friends with other users at a big party where all these other people are hanging out. Is that the idea or am I looking at it the wrong way?

I'm excited to hear everyone's experiences and thoughts!

  1. 4

    Yea, I don't think you get that normally.
    Most of the online communities are revolving doors, very few are core and each is there for a different reasons.. most people that are active in an online community might only interested in the online aspect.

    I've been in a small community that has a score board for contribution, I'd been number 1 for months, answering like 80%+ of message and more.. never once talked to anyone else in the top 10, maybe emailed the owner once.... Never to my knowledge met any core person IRL, I was going to different events in that niche, and did get recognised by a few people I helped before... (Had a real pic on my profile and name and such). In the events I did hang out with some small groups, none of which, IIRC, have used the site I'd been contributing to... I've actually been contributing to other sites in the niche...
    Some of the bounds were stronger than others, but all unrelated to the online communities.
    Meeting f2f people randomly at events and just asking what they do sometimes creates connections, you just need to do that a lot...

    The time I felt most part of a community was a gaming one, high learning curve game, when I got to the point of captaining teams, which they were few of, and getting good captions for 2 teams was critical to a good game experience, so there was a strong dependency in a way...
    But again only online in that community, don't know anyone there personally or anything, but feeling wise, It was great...

    1. 1

      The time I felt most part of a community was a gaming one, high learning curve game, when I got to the point of captaining teams
      @hatkyinc pretty fascinating perspective that super contributors don't really benefit much beyond altruism, and I'd love to see social communities figure out ways to turn super contributors into some kind of "team captain" where they guide a limited amount of people for some period of time, and maybe teams are compared using some standard scorecard of progress (eg. landing page up, prototype up, first paying customer, etc).

      You're right that online communities are revolving doors, and there might be surprising lessons to be learned from gaming communities!

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        What's different in the gaming communities is that they are a bit more stable as weird as it sounds, it's even more true for high learning curve ones, you'd get to interact with the same people again and again.

        Also the interaction is more complex than a questions, answer and thanks.
        You affect each other, you'r invested in each other... even if only for 10-60 minutes (team based games) but usually that repeats to more rounds, so your in each others lives sometimes for months... some for years.. but even if it's "just" a week or a few days, that's a lot compared to Q&A, which is a single transaction for life most commonly.

        I've contributed over 4M views to google maps, do I feel a part? maybe in the philosophical sense, I'd still more of a contributer.

        I'm more attached to contributions I've had to open source projects even if tiny.
        It's usually one of:

        1. You scratch your own itch and hope it would help someone like you.
        2. You get a lot of conversation going for a single thing..
        3. You know that small thing you did reflects on tons of people..

        What I always tend to think about these Q&A situations is one can go to a community, just read, identify repeating questions, make them into organised content and keep referring people to that...
        There are some gems to extract as well.

        So in modern CRM systems, a questions is identified and previous writing suggested as answers and allow you to read and not post for example... I believe this trend should come to communities...
        Promoting someones content to a common answer I think is empowering for contributors..

    2. 1

      Thanks for the very interesting perspective! Remembering back, the most connected community I've seen is probably a gamers guild. Interesting to think about.

  2. 3

    I like your view of online community better. A lot of people staying on the edges. I suggest you act just like you thing it should be and anything otherwise doesn’t matter. Engage yourself and continue.

    1. 1

      Glad to hear someone else shares my view of what it could be. I engage where I can, but still trying to figure out how you go from someone who attends or pitches in to feeling a part of it. I suppose it might be similar to a real party where you don't know anyone. Reach out enough, find a connection and start fostering that within the community itself. Thanks for the encouragement @Noonan

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        I believe many feel this way. It’s getting a clear message so relationships can build at the onset. Until then I’ll keep engaging everyone I meet. Kudos for your candid thoughts

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        I think the feeling you strive for can only be achieved by reaching out to individuals in that community and build relationship with those.

        The online communities you describe are those "parties" now you have to find and reach out to individuals that can become your group of friends.

  3. 2

    I do, and see it as a party where like minds are hanging out. What I find is that just due to not being in a startup hub city, what I have to say tends to fall flat. Nearly zero interaction.

  4. 2

    Or maybe its just me having unrealistic expectations of what its like to be a part of an online community

    I think this is right. Maybe there's a small group of very active people in any given online community that feel close, but I think in most cases this involves relationship building outside of the community (chatting, meeting up in real-life, etc).

    1. 1

      +1

  5. 1

    I think a traditional forum model is best for this! That's why I started webwide.io.

  6. 1

    Be active and provide value. Share tips on success stories and comment on people's posts.

  7. 1

    If you love the posts, read them. And when you have something to contribute, however small, but positive/constructive, do it. Overtime, the people and concept will grow and resonate with you, and the growth from the community makes you value it, and the people, deeply.