Tag Archives: Community

How to Build an Internet Community

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Building a strong Internet Community is no easy feat. It takes perseverance, dedication and a lot of hard work. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and thought I would pass on some of my experience to you.

Online communities are a commodity these days, but it wasn’t always this way. I started Lockergnome back in 1996. It’s gone through a lot of changes, with the biggest yet to come. We are working on changing it over to a Blogging Network, where you can make money by sharing your information. It works… we’ve been testing it for quite awhile now. People are actually making money, for blogging about what they know. It doesn’t have to be Tech related, either. We have blogs about dogs, blogs about daily life… we even have a blog from my mom!

Abdul sent me an email asking a bunch of questions about how to build a good Internet Community. Building a strong community has nothing to do anymore with having the right type of software, etc. It comes down to where you spend your time. You have to be able to reach an audience of some type. Then you need to stop and think… the people you are planning to reach out to… is there something else they need that you can give them?

I know what I’m doing as far as building Lockergnome, I’ve been at it for twelve years now. I’ve spent more time than I can tell you to get it where it is now, and where I want it to be. I’m so excited that I am going to be able to open up my website to all of you, and give you the opportunity to make money, by sharing what you know.

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Be a Good YouTube Viewer

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There’s actually more to YouTube than just watching random videos and moving on. Here are some great tips sent in by a community member to help you enhance your YouTube experience.

  • If you’re completely new to YouTube, you should make your own account. This will help you to sort out user names and videos that you like, so you can put videos into favorites, subscribe to users on YouTube that you think make good videos and want to watch more. This is helpful because whenever they make a new video, it’ll show up in a scrolling list when you first enter the YouTube website. Also, one of the main parts of YouTube is the community. You can write a helpful comment, rate videos, and flag inappropriate content. By doing all of this, you’ll become a valued community member.
  • I often find it hard to find decent, cool, and interesting videos. For starters, search something funny and interesting, or go on a YouTuber you quite like and look at their favorites and subscriptions. This will help you find some other cool video broadcasters. Also if you click “Channels” or “Videos” on the homepage, you will be directed to pages of interest. Use the drop down list, to narrow down your search by: Most viewed, Most discussed, Top rated, and so on. Or, come to the live chat room, at live.pirillo.com and ask, if anyone submits to YouTube.
  • Pick different YouTubers from time to time, and stick with them. Also find YouTubers, that post regularly, otherwise you’ll get bored of waiting for another video each day. It’s not always quantity that counts, some really famous people on YouTube only post videos on YouTube like, once a month… but they’re amazing, and edited well. There are also people like Chris who post daily, and are very valued people of the YouTube community.
  • If you’re sometimes forgetful, and there’s a few videos you might want to watch again later, add them to a play list, or quick-list.
  • And last but definitely not least, some viewers prefer to do video responses. These are a great way to express your feelings and thoughts about a video, and you’ll gain lots of Viewers too! Just hook up a web cam and microphone to your computer, and use the good old quick capture feature. This works great for quickie videos like responses!

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User Generated Contentedness

There’s all this talk over UGC: User Generated Content. I hate that term (always have, always will). To me, the only thing you want to evoke is a sense of User Generated Contentedness. Without that, you’ve got nothing more than random scraps of data sitting on a page – and that’s beyond worthless.

I’m certain that most of today’s “dotcom” companies won’t be around within five years, so what happens with their users? Do they just… disappear? What happens to all that content generated by said audience?

What I value most in my community is that there really is no community to speak of. We’re all just people doing things we want to do – not defined by our badges, our usernames, our favorite sites, etc. This could have been done anywhere, but I’m most happy that it was done in the first place:

Same holds true for the following video, albeit at a slightly more spooky (but largely hilarious) level:

And the video responses for the Blue Vista parody MP3 have been continuously rolling in since we released the song late last week:

I gave y’all Chris Heads for a reason. Good to see some of you are taking advantage of the User Generated Craziness I’ve been doling out…

An UndoTV Update

In a matter of hours, DNS should be resolving for UndoTV.com. Before you rush the site (as I’m sure you will), please note that we’re only letting vetted talent in at first. Submit your email address to be added to the queue for invitation codes – which will start going out mid-November. You’ll see our temporary “about” page soon enough, but here’s what Leo and I have written:

Today, the idea of a tech-centric TV network has disappeared from the minds of Hollywood’s elite. Par for the course! Passionate communities are often kept an arm’s length away from their favorite broadcasted content in traditional media circles.

It’s time to undo that way of thinking, don’t you think?

TechTV alumni just wanted a place where we could all come together and funnel our independent efforts. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” keeps ringing through my head – not just our existing content, but NEW stuff (and NEW faces) as well. Leo Laporte and I have done our best to set the stage for UndoTV.

The blogger Steve Borsch commented in a previous thread: “So, who decides what gets ‘on’ UndoTV? Who the talent is? What emerges?” The UndoTV talent base is starting with the former ZDTV / TechTV staff, previous show guests, and vetted friends. Without a base of quality content, we’d be nothing more than a video portal clone.

Everybody is welcome here – and everybody retains 100% ownership of their own content.

The community (you) will determine the direction of our efforts. Certainly, some former TechTV talent has gone on to do fantastic productions far outside the realm of the tech industry. Everybody is welcome to help us undo the idea of television – helping reinvent the way community can influence the active development of a site, its content, and its superstars.

You are tomorrow’s network. You control the horizontal – and the vertical, too. As such, we only want to see your own creations here. If you want to upload someone else’s content, please do so elsewhere? It’s the community’s job to keep this community clean, cool, and collected. We hope you take that responsibility to heart.

Expect, in short time, new features and functionality, new ways to interact, and new ways to find a passionate audience for your own talents.

TechTV = UndoTV

TechTV was a television network that held within it so much promise, so much talent. We had an army of fanatics stationed all around the globe. The Internet-savvy did everything in their power to empower that very community – but many of those efforts fell victim to a traditional media mindset. We’re now on the cusp of a new media revolution, and I’ve begun to spearhead efforts to ressurect the ideals of TechTV.

When I seeded the idea about letting the community help us centralize, the response was overwhelming – both from TechTV alumni and our ever-present supporters. I’m here to tell you now: it’s going to happen. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but… that’s what makes it worth doing! The most difficult hurdle has already been overcome, in my opinion: we have an audience that is NOT being served effectively.

ZDTV/TechTV brought us all together, but that brand belongs to somebody else – to a completely different time and management style. It’s not the name that’s most important – it’s what we do with that name which will prove our validity and worth. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts!

Leo and I have discussed a few core values this impending structure must support, the most revolutionary of which is content producers owning 100% of their contributions. We want to enable former TechTV talent to upload new and existing content, and we want to bring new talent into the fold as well. Sales will also be an important part of this process, so we’d also like to help match sponsorship with these personalities.

The working (and likely final) name for this project is simple, poignant, and genre-neutral: UndoTV. I’ve registered UndoTV.com, Undo.tv, UndoTV.net, and UndoTV.org through GoDaddy. I believe that UndoTV.com will be the primary domain (with Undo.tv being a permanent redirect to it). It’s my hope to turn over UndoTV.net and UndoTV.org to the community, letting vetted leaders craft those sites with tools of their choosing. Perhaps one could hold within it a wiki, another could hold a customized version of MUWP (which I’m developing for Lockergnome.com anyway)? That’s completely up to you, my friends.

Why UndoTV? Several reasons:

  • Some former TechTV talent are no longer producing tech content.
  • We’re undoing TechTV’s untimely and unwarranted demise.
  • The television industry is changing, and we’re all helping “undo” it.
  • There are few preconceived notions with the word “undo.”
  • The CTRL+Z reference is geeky enough, but it doesn’t turn off non-geeks.
  • The appropriate domains were available.
  • Informal reactions to the “UndoTV” name were positive.
  • All TechTV/ZDTV fans will find us, no matter what we call it.

A good name is important, but not as important as what we make of that name. What did “Digg” mean before the community pushed it to a powerhouse? What’s more, we’re really trying to help people who are afraid of technology – and getting a technophobe to pay attention to “tech” anything is nothing short of impossible. Let me put it to you another way: how do normal people discover YouTube videos?

I’m confident that the timing for UndoTV is perfect. Leo and I have identified a potential platform to begin publishing through, but an actual launch date is still in the air. We have every element in line for success: an amazing community, a range of great talent, and a strong desire to push the media industry forward.

Could be the Peet’s talking, but… I’m excited. Next steps?

  • Draft a unique logo
  • Prep the site structure
  • Locate smart sponsors
  • Contact interested talent
  • Solicit community feedback
  • Identify organizational needs
  • Define necessary roles
  • Flesh out legal structure

Here we go. Let’s see if Dvorak likes the idea.

Digg is Worth More than $60m

The Kevin Rose cover story in BusinessWeek magazine has been receiving a lot of attention in the blogosphere. The cover claims that “This Kid Made $60 Million In 18 Months.” Pundits are largely taking umbrage, as collected by ValleyWag:

I agree with what some of these guys are saying: the number is wholly inaccurate. Kevin and the Digg brand are likely worth twice that amount.

  1. Community is worth its weight in gold. So, let’s have every Digg member submit their weight and then compare that resulting number to today’s gold prices. My guess is that it’s slightly more than $60m $200m. Bubble or no bubble, COMMUNITY LIKE THIS DOES NOT DISAPPEAR!!!
  2. Brand is worth twice the amount of your community. Again, let’s do some weight measurements here.
  3. Kevin’s a good guy – genuinely. I knew this from the first time I met him on the Call for Help set (he was sitting with Cat and Morgan in the chat area for TSS). And you know what? I’ll trade one Kevin for a hundred Silicon Valley snakes any day of the week. A good guy is priceless (especially in this industry).
  4. I bet any businessperson on this planet would give up their testicles (or ovaries) to have the power of Digg at their disposal. How much is that worth? Digg is just getting warmed up.
  5. Let’s just stop and think about how much revenue has been generated from the sites that have been digg’ed. Not Digg, itself – the pages that get featured. That number is likely in the millions, I’d imagine.

Now, for those who would quibble over BusinessWeek using the word “made,” I offer you a definition from Answers.com. According to them, “made” is an adjective:

  • Produced or manufactured by constructing, shaping, or forming
  • Produced or created artificially
  • Having been invented
  • Assured of success

Uh huh… so, what’s the problem with “made” here? As with any word defined in the English language, it only needs to assume a single meaning. I read it as “Assured of success.” And yes, I believe that Digg (and its entire community) is worth more than $60m $200m today. Then again, I’m an idealistic sonofabitch. Even if Kevin was a billionaire, I’d still insist on buying lunch for him.

I went back and corrected the numbers – though my position still stands. The value of both Rose and Digg are beyond imagination.

TechTV: Rebuilt by Community?

Looks like Leo may have let loose the flood gates: TechTV Reunion? It’s possible. I think it’s very possible. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that I want to help make it happen. I think we could make a good go of the idea on the ‘Net before taking it to a television studio – unless, of course, there’s a studio out there that understands just how much TechTV helped both technophiles and technophobes. That’s one idea.

I’m thinking we could do something a bit more permanent (at least, online). I believe the community can bring the idea of “TechTV” back to life. What we’ll need, of course, is YOUR HELP.

For starters, I’m looking for a centralized site where TechTV Alumni could log in, post a video via Flash controls, then have their recordings indexed (tagged? syndicated?) and streamed on-demand. There’s probably an open source app I’m not seeing at the moment, but if any of the TechTV faithful can help… we’re all ears. It could be a TechTV Variety video site – but can the community build it for us to use? We could likely do this through a video portal, but… I think a TechTV community-controlled (or directed) solution is the big win.

Until then, I’m going to knock on a few more doors to see if I can generate genuine interest – for sponsors and/or studios.

Decompressing

OMG, I don’t know where to begin. I have so many posts that need to be written, and so many emails that I need to respond to within the next couple of days. I love the Lockergnome community dearly, but I absolutely [insert stronger-than-love word here] the Gnomedex community – two separate communities with very little crossover. It will soon be time for me to elevate the Lockergnome brand to the Gnomedex level. I can’t wait. I’m drained, but (at the same time) energized. I’m tired, but (at the same time) fully aware. So many conversations, so many experiences, so many ideas, so many possibilities. Thank you, everyone.