Gregory Heller was an attendee at Gnomedex this past summer. During our open mic session, he talked to us about the Open Atrium service, which is a free (and apparently better!) alternative to Drupal. It comes with six features – a blog, a wiki, a calendar, a to do list, a shoutbox, and a dashboard to manage it all. Open Atrium is completely customizable. If you want a feature that’s not on that list, you can add it yourself.
The fun really starts when people start sharing the features they build for their own Open Atrium with everyone else. Then everyone doesn’t just have access to six features, but also a bunch of others that are easy to plugin to the basic package. Open Atrium is built on Drupal. This makes it easy to add other Drupal modules to the package and to build new features for it.
If you’ve ever tried to build something with Drupal, I’m willing to bet you got frustrated in a hurry. Open Atrium is so simple to use out of the box that you won’t have to worry about whether you’re getting it right anymore. It just… works.
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After only a few days, we have well over 2,000 members on the new Geeks community site! We’re growing like crazy, and many excellent groups and discussions are popping up. There are, of course, the occasional group that we need to delete, or even duplicates to get rid of. What constitutes a good group, anyway? How can you successfully lead your own community group?
Search for a group keyword before you start your own. Otherwise, you’re splitting the community instead of uniting it. If you’ve already started a group, this is very counter-productive.
Create a group if you believe a group is worth creating. Otherwise, you’re wasting space and time with the effort (and wonder why nobody wants to join or participate).
Fill that group with useful content. Dedicate time out of your day to post news links, start discussions, embed videos, audio, widgets, and photos related to the group’s shared interest.
Turn on the RSS Reader Include an RSS feed to automatically populate the Group with relevant content. If you don’t know what an RSS feed is, you’re not a geek.
Use a Web site relevant to the Group. Don’t use your personal website, just to try and drive traffic to yourself. Only use your own site if it’s full of content that is regularly update, all of which is directly related to your group.
Spamming the link to it is a bad idea. Let it grow organically. Find friends outside the Geeks network to join, and you’re likely to see membership flourish. Think about all the other communities and groups on the Web that you’re involved in – tell them about it there. This is your chance to lead a Group related to your passion – that’s what makes you a geek!
Please add me as an Admin for your group. Right now, the system won’t do it automatically. This way, I can make adjustments without having to ask you first. It’s a current shortcoming to the platform we’re using for Geeks today.
My suggestion is to turn off the ability for members to send messages to the entire group. Spamming is going to dissuade people from coming back, not encourage them.
If you’re an administrator for a group, use spell check and your shift key when appropriate. Nothing turns me off more than poor grammar, usage, punctuation, etc. I will not join a group that’s lead by someone who does not have command of his or her native language.
Keep it civil, especially as a Group administrator. It’s your responsibility to maintain balance and decorum. If you can’t handle this responsibility, DON’T CREATE A GROUP.
If your Group does not have any new content within a day of inception, it’s getting deleted – no questions asked. If your Group does not sustain at least a few new pieces of content every week, it’s on probation. It is YOUR responsibility as Group owner / administrator to keep it going – not necessarily the members of that Group. They joined because they’re interested, but you have to step up to the plate and serve them as much as you expect them to serve the group.
Geeks is shaping up to be an amazing community, full of some awesome people. If you’re already a member, have fun! If you’re not… what the heck are you waiting for? You’re missing out!