photo by Nicolas Allan.
I recently left a comment on Richard Millington's post, You Don't Need To Be An Expert.
He claimed that, "you don’t need to be an expert within the industry to build an online community. But you do need the ability to recruit and motivate experts." He saw the job of building an online community like that of the entrepreneur who simply recruits "experts who love to run an online community".
I wondered about his idea and expressed that I would like to see it in action. Somehow I felt that, fundamentally, there was something askew with this idea. I left a comment:
Building online communities is something that everyone seems to have an idea about. It's a bit like education. Everybody thinks they know how to teach.
I would say, from my limited expertise in this field, that anyone who thinks it's about building is in for a shock. It's a bit like building a tree.
Can you build a tree?
You can build a log cabin. But that's what it remains. Watching an online community form and expand is more like growing a tree than building one.
You have to plant the seed. They don't all germinate. When one does, you have to water it with care, provide nourishment and support. As it continues to grow, you may have the opportunity of seeing it blossom and fruit may appear - if you've cared for it properly, that is.
As the tree gets bigger, more fruit can be harvested after each year's blossom. But you have to maintain the tree, lest it catches a disease and gets sickly. A sickly tree doesn't bear fruit.
If the tree is from good stock, you may be lucky enough to take some of its seed and plant another tree or more. With appropriate care you can have an orchard of good fruit-bearing trees.
But you have to tend the orchard, for the same reason as you had to tend the single tree that grew.
No. I don't think online communities are built. I'd be inclined to grow mine.