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a question by Nov 17, 2010
We'd like to encourage more interaction between members, how can we achieve this? Founders and moderators can comment and interact as much as they can, but a community beocmes a real community when about 60-80 % of its members acknowledge each other and develop online relationships. How can we encourage more participation and make folks more comfortable in interacting with others?
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answered:    November 17, 2010
I agree with JRider completely; you interact with others, you always leave comments (which I totally admire because sometimes I get stumped when leaving a comment on a review), I can't think of anything that you don't do yourself Woo, as an individual, because in my opinion you do wonderful at the things you accomplish.  Some communities only send newsletters with statistics, no personal information at all, but you always send newsletters that pay attention to the members themselves, which is great!

I do however, notice that some reviews are rated, but no comment is posted. Personally, I think this can be rather rude on the reviewer's part; leaving a review rating is wonderful, but it is important that the reviewer leave some kind of comment so as to encourage others to comment as well, and also to lead the reviewer to other reviews from other members. You know yourself Woo, that bantering back and forth can bring lots of wonderful conversation, as you and Aerin are terrific at this, as well as some others I have noticed.

I also have noticed that with my reviews (I know I do not write as well or as intelligent as most others) can be neglected at times.  Do not take this the wrong way; but I, as well as some others, have the same readers (and that is much appreciated because I consider them to be friends!), but I have read other's reviews where they are in the same situation - reviewers need to broaden their horizons, and read reviews by ones that are new to the community, or who may not have the ability to write as well as some other most popular ones. We can feel left out in the cold, so to speak.  I admire lots of reviewers on here, but it can be hard at times to get those particular members to read "less desirable reviews" - I hope I stated that correctly.

I believe it is important for ALL members to read reviews from all sorts of members, not just the ones they are partial to.

I also agree totally with djevoke, who I have gotten to know rather well from MJ reviews, that telling other members about someone else who may have a review they would be interested in, is a wonderful way to get people to know each other better.  There is nothing more wonderful than reading messages, and hearing comments and opinions on people you have never heard from before, and is very much appreciated when a member is referred from someone else you have had conversations with.

I think it is up to us as individuals to broaden ourselves, because Woo, you absolutely have done everything in your power to be the best founder of a community.  I have noticed that some people start communities, yet do not respond whatsoever to reviews written in that community - this is not cool.

Online relationships are actually easy to start; it takes the members themselves to start it - you have been doing your part and have gone over the limit, especially compared to some other community members.  You're doing a wonderful job Woo, now it's our turn to make a difference.
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answered:    November 17, 2010
I have to say that as the moderator, you've been really encouraging it William. I'm not sure that you as an individual can do much more to get the members to interact without them taking the initiative themselves. I mean you ask good questions, leave good feedback. Maybe have contests for badges for most interaction perhaps?
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answered:    November 17, 2010
Great question, Woo!  It's always wonderful to see web communities where there's heavy interaction between members.  Those interactions make the community become a real and thriving community where great, thought-provoking (and perhaps off-beat as well!) discussions can be had and wonderful people can be met.  In Lunch Communities in particular, interactions like those can also foster the creation of content, like lists, quick tips, reviews, etc. 

As founders and moderators, we can initiate those interactions by reaching out to our members.  This has everything to do with member engagement, so this post on how to engage your members will be helpful.  On a related note, there are many different types of members, and here are my suggestions on how to approach a few of them:
  • Brand new member to Lunch and your community with no content: Leave a nice welcome comment on their profile page welcoming them to your community and/or Lunch, and let them know that they can reach out to you for help.  If they've rated a few things (you can check their Activities tab), then perhaps you could refer them to related lists or reviews in your community.  Check out my post Welcoming Members in Communities on Lunch: Because It's Nice to Say Hello for more tips on welcome comments.
  • New members who have content: Either in addition, or in lieu of a welcome comment on their profile page -- leave a few review, list, or quick tip comments and give them some ratings!  Nothing shows love quite like those compliments on a review site :)
  • Dormant member who was once active: Leave some comments and ratings on their content.  Perhaps it will remind them to come back.  A comment on their profile page telling them that they're missed doesn't hurt either!

You can see that I mentioned commenting on and rating content a lot and that's because on a review site, it feels great to get feedback on your writing and to know that your review helped and/or entertained someone.  Even if you don't have time to leave long comments, a simple, "Great review!  Thanks for sharing :)" or something to that effect will still go a long way.  Furthermore, this might inspire those new members to go read reviews and leave comments and ratings themselves!

Whatever type of interaction you have with your members, always remember to be kind, genuine, respectful and sincere.  This will help foster a warm, nurturing, friendly and vibrant community by you leading by example :)
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answered:    November 17, 2010
You always post the tough questions to answer, William! LOL!

I think the problem could be the mentality of the reviewers and not necessarily anything you or the other community founders or moderator are doing wrong. If the member/reviewer in the community is used to a site that is all about the reviews and not about the social interaction, they are naturally disinclined to connect with people. The objective is to write a lot of reviews, not make friends. I don't think this is a mindset anyone can change, but you can foster some growth simply by connecting with members on another level, which you do especially well. From that friendship, maybe you will spark others. I've actually met some of my favorite people through you, such as Brenda, Karen, and Sean, just as you've met some fun people from my end, like Aerin. The real difficulty with fostering the online friendships is showing people that the time away from writing reviews is worth it. 

Hopefully my response offers some encourage and hope. I don't have much of a solution to the problem, though. I do want to stress that you are doing a great job at reaching out to people!
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answered:    November 17, 2010
Whenever I'm on someone's profile, I take a look around at their other review topics and see if anyone else has reviewed similar topics, then I link them to that other person. For example, Hey Will, I loved your review on Unstoppable. Have you read @rmurray847's Unstoppable review?

It takes some time but, that's a good way to link members to each other or if you notice that someone's writing a lot about a particular subject that you know another Luncher is very knowledgeable on, you can point them to that Luncher with something like- Hey Will, have you met @blahblahblah? I think you guys have a lot in common. It's the same that you would do at a party that you're hosting, you can think of your communities that way. How would you introduce friends that don't know each other at a party? Use those same methods here!

After a while, it'll take off naturally. There's also only so much you can do/control. People will comment on reviews when they have something to say- sometimes a review is helpful and fun and people feel that they've said all they need to through the ratings.

Hope that helps :)
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answered:    November 19, 2010
That's a tough nut to crack because, statistically, I don't think there's all that much traffic at Lunch. I supposed if the overall community were to press for a massive membership drive, then that might be the end result. It's hard to say b/c many times, when you grow membership, you start to get folks who really don't quite fit the profile of a successful contributor BUT seek to just contribute on everything OR spam OR (sadly) stalk. I would say that if there were a way to encourage more interaction -- such as a main question feature on the front page that maybe was a "question of the day" -- then you might start to achieve that result. I'd encourage you to keep in mind, though, that whatever steps you may take today are going to require a reasonable amount of time to produce any results much less the desired one. I think online communities struggle a bit because folks either want a "chat" forum or they want some kind of "talkback" interaction, but I don't think that's part and parcel of what Lunch is about, at least, it isn't what drew me here.
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answered:    November 17, 2010
Sorry I am getting to this late WP but every one below me is 100% right on, I could not have said any of it better than all of them. You as the founder have always done more than enough and in fact I should probably do more interaction myself. In ASIANatomy I try and rate and comment on every new review and such that comes in, still trying to work my way back and comment on ones I missed. Any way I think that is key, making people feel comfortable enough to do the same. Like they pointed out, your newsletters are great because you welcome people and put different people and their reviews, list and such in the limelight of the letter. I think it is up to the members to make everyone feel comfortable enough to branch out, members like myself. Like I said you have done more than enough and continue to do so, Jason's idea for a badge sounds cool. Not only is that encouraging but it is also a type of reward, any one collecting badges will want to get it. And even if that person is thinking about doing it just until they get the badge may actually develop a friendship with some people in trying to do so. Therefore by the time they have it they will keep commenting on others work anyway.
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answered:    November 17, 2010
Awesome posts, everyone! There are a lot of ideas that were brought into the discussion...more than I expected. Thanks a million--like picking your brains!! :)
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