Around February this year, I was invited to begin a new Lunch.com feature called “Communities”. While I wasn’t exactly sure what to make out of it at first, I gave it a shot. Then on launch day, the "To Believe Or Not to Believe The Hype” was launched along with several other communities. “Hype” is a community that mostly dealt with movies and it had a good list of members since most of them were made up of my existing online friends; most of whom I‘ve known between 2006-2007. Other communities were leaving the Hype community in the dust though, when it came to member counts; and this was fine. My little group was happy to have a spot where we can just discuss movies. I liked the feature so much that I began a 2nd community called AsianFlixFix.
Well, that was months ago and now Lunch.com has a flurry of communities that most of the time I was just amazed how many invites must be going in and out of Lunch’s internet highway. Now a few weeks ago, I had my first issue in running my community; this issue was that there was someone among the Hype membership who was trying to convince some newer hype members that they should move their reviews to their new community since they deal with this so-called genre. I have since already confronted this member (who I shall not name, but the Hype members know because they were approached with similar requests) and while he denied it, this was NOT the only incident since another founder have experienced the same thing and another member have verified this member’s actions. A can of worms has been opened.
Here is the lies the problem in the communities--some are taking it as competition. The idea of communities was to have a nurturing community to have members around those with similar interests. While I think this should not be a problem, but the issue of cross-posting reviews have been brought up by other founders. This would be a great idea but it also opens up a can of worms.
Problems with Cross-posting or linking reviews up can arise. A community loses its uniqueness. Who would like to see the same review over and over again? I go out of my way to find the most obscure title for things to make the community I am reviewing for unique. If this happens, then another founder can just either link the review to his community. Therefore the writer can lose his ‘exclusive’ community choice and the founder can become another ‘ghost’ community under a much stronger community.
Solution: The writer should have the choice whether or not he wants to cross-post his review or whether he wants to link the topic to another. It is the writer’s hard work and no one else’s.
Founders can also be called “Community Buddies” so that the founders can allow collaboration. Let’s say in HYPE, a review can link up to my friend Frank’s “Maniacs” community while being in “Hype” and vice versa. Now how do we solve the problem of losing “unique-ness” (there a word?); having the reviewer break up the review in two chapters; one part can discuss the publicity while another its ’scare factor’. Once you click on the Topic, both reviews will be visible for the reader, thus only one set of votes. Also, I am all for collaborative reviews and I think this can be real fun. Of course this would involve major maneuvering between two founders.
But let’s be honest, this wouldn’t always work for all communities. Movies, yes. Food, yes. But things like political topics may be a little hard.
Founder Etiquette/Ethics- Now all these wouldn’t be an issue if the founders had guidelines right? Well, I go by some rules I have set for myself. A) I will not ask any member for any reviews to be moved to my community. If a member decides to help out a small community so be it, but as a founder I cannot undermine a fellow founder. B) I want my members to feel at home, I want them to interact with each other. C) Promote my friends’ communities within my own. D) I respect my fellow founders and contribute to their communities whenever I can.
I see communities as NOT my own but founded by a whole bunch of people. My members make my community--they have the ability to post whatever they want as long as it fits under the communities established tone and goal. The idea is to co-exist and support each other. Founders should have the same set of personal rules. This is supposed to be fun, but when fellow founders start stabbing each other in the back, then it becomes work and I do this to get away from my full time job.
Do not Overreach- Actually, I shouldn’t say anything about this, since my “To Believe Or Not to Believe The Hype” community is pretty broad and quite frankly a little unfocused. Well, if you’re not a member, then you may not understand. Members should know that I founded this community to reach out to movie lovers; if the ‘Hype” community had a goal it was to promote people, cinema and interactions. The HYPE community was about people’s tastes. Movie HYPE was about its members.
But back to the topic. When I was invited, I thought founders were supposed to be as focused as possible. Communities should be aimed at a single thing or person. Example: James Bond movies, Tolkien or Star Trek. I’ve seen broader SCI-FI or Comic Book communities. Now we have a problem; if I review a cartoon called “Clone Wars” which can fit under animation, sci-fi or “Star Wars” if there was a community. I review a video game for the PS3, should it go to the “Gaming Hub” or under “PS3 Games’? This is where the problems begin.
I have expressed my reservations about making communities “open season”. Lunch made the right decision since they don’t want to alienate anybody; but it can get chaotic and stressful for members. Now the site has to deal with different personalities and possible clashes. I don’t believe the site has the manpower to monitor the approvals of each community, to avoid possible ‘alike’ communities. But I do also believe that no one should be held back and everyone should be able to do what they want as long as they don't conflict Lunch's mission statement.
Solution: Self discipline and respect should be practiced among founders and members. Failing this, (I know human nature won’t allow self discipline) the site may have to make ‘COMMUNITY FOUNDER GUIDELINES’. Guidelines such as simple founder rules; do's and don'ts. I was told, don’t worry about members that come and go (this is true) but it is more about etiquette. Wow. I assume that most members aren’t getting paid to do this community thing, but imagine the things that would open up if they were getting paid? If a founder doesn’t follow those guidelines, then the community can be deleted (like maybe if he doesn't log in for months?). I know this is sad for an unpaid person to be alienated, but as human beings, we do need rules.
Also, this is also where 'collaborative communities' can work to everyone's advantage. No one will feel left out and everyone will have a chance to be heard. I still believe that communities can co-exist, and even similar communities can help each other rather than competing against one another. Founders should know NOT to compete and put members on the spot.
Honestly, I find the communities to be fun and yet a little taxing at times. In the end, I think it is how you treat your members and how you listen to what they have to say that would make a community successful. Founders should also learn to co-exist and I do linger around a very huge field for a community; there are a lot of other founders who wants to do movie communities it seems.
Reviews in Communities are about the members who write them.
Note: Please excuse if I got a little off topic and if I made some errors, I got a lot of phone calls while writing this.
Reviews in Commununities on Lunch are written critical evaluation and retrospective view by Community Founders and their members.
As a Community Founder, you can shape the tone of the reviews in your community and help guide your members in writing reviews by providing review prompts. Founders can also choose reviews that are stellar examples of what their communities are about and feature them on their community homepage.