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Communities on Lunch

A place for Lunchers to gather and share information around niche topics that they are passionate about.

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Feeding Your Curiosity One Community at a Time

  • Apr 11, 2010
I first arrived at Lunch in December 2008 after being sent an invite.  I stayed, left and came back in March of 2009.  I recall the first thing I thought in December being, "What's the point of this?"  And then as the website evolved I began to love Lunch.  It has become the equivalent of checking my email or my facebook page.  I come to the site everyday and mingle on the site everyday, observing other members and reading reviews.  I went on a trip in March of 2010 and when I returned from that trip I was surprised to see all the communities up and running.  If Lunch is about feeding your curiosity, then the communities seem to be about finding the right table.  Imagine, if you will, that you're in a cafeteria but don't know where to sit.  There are lots of people and each table is talking about something different.  At one table they're talking about Books, at another they're talking about Movies.  Oh, but it gets better.  Perhaps some are talking about Inspriations while others focus on just plain old Awesomeness.

The communities on Lunch allow you to, more or less, visit another section of Lunch.  You might think of them as smaller websites all under a larger website.  Whichever community (or communities) you choose to go to, you can start contributing.  Each community is run by a member of Lunch.com, and they are the ones in charge of their community.  They can say what goes there and what does not.  They can also send out updates and messages to all members of their community whenever they so choose.  It's pretty much like being in charge of your own website.  Once again, it gets better:  Just about anyone can create a community and start adding data points to that particular community.  Thanks to the fact that you can create Data Points as well, you get even more time to really shape just what it is your community is going to be about.  Those who connect and communicate with their members will see their communities change.  While there aren't any really large communities right now, there are already over 100 to choose from, and the communities feature has been running (as of this writing) only a month.

So what does it mean to run, organize and be a part of a community?  Simple: Each community is run by a member.  When you join a community, it has its own homepage.  It's still a part of the main Lunch.com website (if you want to go back to the default homepage) but it's important to realize it's still its own site.  It has it's own URL.  There is, for example: www.lunch.com and then there is say... http://www.lunch.com/overhypedmovies if you want to go directly to the community: To Belive or Not To Believe The Hype.  Once you join a community, there is a quick overview as to what the community stands for.  The interface is exactly as Lunch's own interface.  The difference between a community and the overall scope, however, is that there is someone actually in charge of the community.  And often he or she will be there to tell you exactly what they want from the community.  For example, your community manager might mention something like, "Be sure to mention _______" in your review.  It sounds complex, but if you're just a contributor, there's hardly anything complex about it.  For the most part, you'll be able to go about reviewing like you normally would.  The difference is that when you review each datapoint now, you have the option of dumping that review in any community you chose to be a part of.  Or, if that datapoint is already a part of that community, it goes there automatically.

There can sometimes be a bit of confusion.  For example if you're on the Main Lunch.com website... all the reviews will always show up under any datapoint.  If you are in one of the communities, however, then only the reviews from that community will actually show up under the datapoint.  Confused?  Well, it's not that confusing.  Let's take a look at two different communities.  First, there's Only WDWorld and let's continue using To Believe or Not to Believe The Hype.  Both of these communities contain the datapoint Alice in Wonderland.  Depending on which community you view this datapoint in will make a difference between how many reviews you see on the datapoint page.  The original link I gave you is nagivating to that datapoint WITHOUT actually being in any community. 

Here is what the Datapoint looks like from within the Only WDWorld community.

And here is what it looks like from the To Believe or Not to Believe the Hype community.

Notice the difference?  Allow me to point it out.  In the first example (Only WDWorld) the community has only one review of Alice in Wonderland.  In the second example (To Believe or Not to Believe the Hype) there are three. Likewise, there are eight total reviews.  If one is in a community and three are in the other... then that means four of those reviews aren't in a community at all.  My only point with this is to express that the reviews under each datapoint are sorted by community as well.  Exploring the Alice in Wonderland datapoint under one community will give you different results than exploring it in another.  Let's say someone creates a community for Tim Burton... well, Alice in Wonderland would have no reviews in that community yet until someone decides to place (or move) a review to that community should it ever exist.

And here is where talking about communities actually becomes slightly painful.  If there's one thing I wish Lunch would allow its user to do, it would be to post the same review in two different communities.  Allow me to explain.  I run a community called The Gaming Hub while @Squintz runs a community called Nintendo Wii Games.  Our communities can share datapoints but they CAN'T share reviews.  So if I post a review about a Wii game in The Gaming Hub... that same review cannot be posted in Nintendo Wii Games... even though the datapoints are the same.  It can actually be frustrating because it has caused needless competition among certain communities.  I've yet to be asked to move a review from one community to another, but I've seen members ask other members to do so in an effort to make sure their community gets more hits than another.  It can actually be a little annoying from time to time to realize that you're a member of two communities, but can't contribute to them equally.  But more annoying than being unable to post two of the same review in two different communities is that certain members have turned it into competition.  I imagine Woopak must get more review requests than Jesus receives prayers these days.

Aside from that, however, the communities actually work out really nicely.  I talked about being a contributor... now let's talk about managing, because that is slightly different.

If you do not yet have a community of your own, take some time to consider what being a manager of your own community means. 

When you start your own community you'll be taken to a page where you can customize it.  There's a community name, which you are free to change any time you see fit, but you also can greet new members with a message, post pictures and allow for open access to your community, or request only.  Either one is good.  For my community it's a little broad for me to pick and choose who can and can't join.  Just remember that it is your community, though.  You are free to block members and remove them from the community.  Be careful, however:  With great power comes great responsibility.  If you block someone you best be prepared to explain why you did it.  This also means you are allowed to set the rules for your community, but you'll have to be able to manage it.  Much like when following a member or datapoint, you can receive alerts whenever someone posts a new review in your community, or whenever someone does something.  It's pretty helpful stuff if you're a manager. 

The review settings are by far the most unique thing managers get to do.  Using the review settings you can, quite literally, provide members with an outline of how their review could potentially go.  This is great if you've got new members who don't really know where to begin.  If someone is in the community and they decide to write the review, the outline you typed out for them automatically pops up into the text box.  From there it's as simple as filling in the blank.  You can also select which tags are appropriate for your community.  And if you're into to Twitter you can tweet.  You can also post widgits on your other pages if you so choose. 

Also, you are given the power to select which reviews can be featured and unfeatured in the community.  You also have the power to remove any review... for basically any reason you deem necessary.  So when you're being told by Lunch staff that you are running your own website, they really mean it.  There's the bigger picture--the overall Lunch website, but when it comes to the communities, you're being given the reins to lead it and to develop it as you see fit.

There's a lot for managers to do.  What may be the most important thing for managers, however, is the ability to message everyone in your community at once.  And there's no better way to get fellow members involved.  Not a week goes by when I don't get a message from To Believe or Not to Believe the Hype in which the founder will email us updates to the community as well as a list of featured reviews.  It allows for members to be in the loop on what's going on.  I know, I know, for those in The Gaming Hub I haven't done this lately, but these updates are to come within my community too.

So far the feature is great.  And while I may have issues with not being able to post reviews in more than one community, it is nice to see how the members have learned to connect through these communities.  As the feature becomes more refined and developed, and as more members become a part of Lunch, the communities feature may be one of the best things Lunch has done yet.

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April 12, 2010
I concur with your cross-posting to the communities observation. I have written in to express that exact thought and received a nice explanation on why it is not allowed. But it sure would be helpful!
April 12, 2010
Great review....actually no, STELLAR analysis as always. I agree with all your points, there are certain advantages and disadvantages in not being able to post a review in two communities, I sure hope that it'll be solved in the future. I'd like to have the option of having to able to link up a few communities together, as long some founders are willing to help each other out and work in unison or coop--but I do maintain that the reviewer has to have the final dcision where his review posts. I think I'll do my spin on this "communities on lunch" thing too. I have a few ideas, but it's a little hard to do and I am not sure even if it can be done (so I am holding back, JR may exile me LOL). I've never blocked anyone from anything in the internet since I became online, and I don't intend to start now despite of what occurred early this week.

I would also like to add that some founders are making their communities cover other things even though it doesn't match their theme and they step on the toes of other founders who are members of that  community. Example: if you have a member who has a fantasy community and you ask for reviews for this genre though your community is aimed at drama, it  can make the other founder upset--especially when communities are supposed to support one another. This happened with two other founders.

Thanks for using the "To Believe or Not To Believe the Hype" community as an example also...and no, while I do get a lot of review requests these days but not by that much; certainly not comparable to prayers LOL! I sure wish I can contribute to every one of the communities but I don't know a hoot about strollers and musicals. 

 Again, amazing work. I may follow your lead tomorrow.
April 12, 2010
which reminds me, I'll review a game for you....oh, strategy guides included?
April 12, 2010
You know, I haven't actually thought about strategy guides.  Reviewing, them anyway.  I have a really big collection of them and I happen to have a few reviews on Amazon, but I've never considered whether or not to allow strategy guides in the community.  But, seeing as how the stipulation for my gaming community is pretty much anything gaming related... I'll allow it.
April 12, 2010
Ok. I'm almost done rewriting my older reviews and I do have an itch to scratch that I want to review some guides and/or controllers.
April 12, 2010
LOL... Woo, you've a complicated life! 2 other founders on your toe eh? Poor thing! Don't take it so hard, people come and go online, and to some extent, in real life too! ;p
April 12, 2010
actually I wasn't involved this time...it was between them LOL plus, I never ask for reviews....
April 12, 2010
Fantastic review, Sean.  Thank you so much for all of this great and very thoughtful feedback and insight.  That's a fun analogy of how browsing through communities on Lunch is like finding the right cafeteria table to sit at; there are so many tables to sit at here. ...Lunch tables, if you will ;P  Your comments about not being able to put your reviews in more than one community are duly noted.  As you pointed out, the community has only been out for less than a month and with constructive feedback and great insight like this from members like you, the Lunch squad is working out the kinks to improve Lunchers' experiences.  Thanks for sharing, Sean!
April 12, 2010
Yeah, I should apologize for the metaphor, but whenever I think Lunch... I for some reason think food... which made me think Cafeteria.  At least it meant I had food on the brain so I didn't forget to eat after writing it, HA!  

But it was better than writing a message and sending it to someone.  Actually I'm probably indebted to the other Sean for this one we were talking about it a bit and then I decided to see if there was actually a dtatapoint for it.
April 12, 2010
I find that is a common complaint about not being able to post the same review in two communities...but it has its downside, after all a community may lose its "unique-ness". I've suggested having sub-communities where founders can work in unison; (example: Hype and Maniacs working together) but I am not sure if that'll even work. However, I do believe that the writer should have the final say where the review should go.
April 12, 2010
The best way for the writer is to move the reviews around if there are multiple reviews he/she is interested in. Say, if I send it to a community where the readers do not read them or not appreciative of the contribution, then I can resend it elsewhere. That way, the reviews go to where it is needed!
April 12, 2010
Lunch can add one extra step, for example, that once review is being sent to a community, it must stay there for a window period of say a week, 2 weeks or a month. For that period of time, the review cannot be moved so as to give the said community a chance to respond to it.
April 12, 2010
@Sean_Rhodes Haha, no worries!  I've personally disassociated Lunch from food quite a while ago (...despite writing about food all the time :P), kind of like how Apple products don't remind me of fruit! 

And I'm glad that you posted this for all to see.  You're actually a bit ahead of the game -- the reason I created the topic for Communities on Lunch (don't know if you've noticed, but "data points" have recently been changed to "topics"!) was because I'm putting together a community just for community founders where thoughts like these can be shared.  It will be an open forum for founders to discuss what works, what doesn't work and give tips, etc, to one another to create thriving communities.  You can take a look at some of the topics that have been prepared for it to get a better sense of it.

@woopak_the_thrill I see both sides of what you're saying, and to add another perspective -- it's not fun for a reader to go to several different communities only to read the same reposted reviews.  I know you mentioned wanting categories, but sub-communities and collaborations?  Interesting!  The team will have to brainstorm.  And agreed, the writer gets the final say on where his or her review will go.

@Sharrie, that's one way for a reviewer to decide where to send a review!  And that's an interesting suggestion.  Reminds me of the stock market where certain stocks can only be traded within a predetermined amount of time.  Like I said to Woo, brainstorm time!

Thanks for your suggestions, guys, very interesting discussion we've got going on here!  Feel free to send your suggestions through feedback, too, or write your own review so that your ideas don't get lost in the comment threads ;)
April 12, 2010
Lady D, yes...maybe a collaboration may solve the issue; as long as both founders are willing to work together. And yes, it can get kinda boring if you see the same review over and over again..but maybe write a diffent approaches for a review for each community of the same topic...maybe? This thing isn't that big of an issue when it comes to me and my friends here--we're working to together. There's just one hurdle and this person just seem to do things for himself; that this person sees this as competition; not good.
April 12, 2010
Ah, like cofounders!  You're onto something there... Perhaps moderators as well.  And yes, in many cases, different approaches can be taken to writing reviews for different communities.  For example, @travismurdock writes about topics like Google Buzz and the iPad in his Social Media for PR Professionals community, but he doesn't just write about them in general (which you can, in say, a social media community); he puts a PR spin on it.

By the way, the Community Founders Community is up and running!  All founders were automatically placed into it, so you three are already members.  Let's get the ball rolling! ;)
April 13, 2010
Ok, I was a little confused where to post my take but I used the new founders community and did a write up on "reviews in communities"...I hink I was a little too talkie'. LOL
April 11, 2010
You're certainly right about NOT having the freedom to put a review in two or more communities will create lots of unnecessary competitions. Not to mention that it'd be great to have the option of writing 2 reviews for a single topic too! Furthermore, as far as 'hoarding' one's own reviews in a member's own community doesn't do anyone any good, including the member himself/herself. I like to send my reviews to as many communities but I will not send one to where the founder doesn't even bother to update and log in to her own community, let alone manage it!
April 12, 2010
actually, my friend, my buddy...the only woman who makes me go GGRRRR....there is a way of reviewing the same topic twice--create a new topic point for another community (but that can get tricky as your review may go in limbo)
April 12, 2010
That's akin to cheating, LOL
April 12, 2010
You could duplicate datapoints and duplicate reviews but imagine what that'll do in terms of inflating your contributions in what some may consider the wrong way...
April 12, 2010
that is true..unless, you write different viewpoints for the same topic. Let's say, for your "Inspirations" community I write about how fun it is to write for communities while on another like "awesomeness" you write about its technical aspects. Then same topic but different approach....hmmm...ideas.
April 12, 2010
That's what I mean, to write different angle for different communities on the same topic. Otherwise, others will just copy and paste into hundreds of similar topics for one review!
April 12, 2010
Actually that would probably work.  Since the focus of each community is probably diferent. 
April 12, 2010
It's supposed to work. Only trouble is you cannot post 2 reviews on one single data point (topic). There is no such feature currently.
April 12, 2010
Not to mention if there is such function, then the site will have to monitor who has a tendency to cheat too!
April 12, 2010
The easiest and least complicated way is to allow same review in multiple communities.
April 12, 2010
ok..anyone want a beer? I am buying so we can all brainstorm on this!
April 12, 2010
Alright.  But only because you're buying!
More Communities on Lunch reviews
review by . April 13, 2010
My 2 Cents, Communities on Lunch
I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for leadership positions. Which is why when I found out that Lunch was allowing their members to start and moderate their own communities, I was pretty excited. I’ve always wanted to have an online community/following of some sort, yet Facebook wasn’t really doing it for me. I have blogs, but it is so hard for my blog readers to really interact and tell their own opinions in the comment sections on my blog. Communities on Lunch completely …
Quick Tip by . September 22, 2010
Makes it easy to find that niche that you belong to.
Quick Tip by . April 13, 2010
"Communities" furthers the similarity complex by creating water coolers where members can gather and discuss common topics.
Quick Tip by . April 12, 2010
Great feature in all, but the inability to post the same review in multiple communities causes needless competition among community founders
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this topic


Communities on Lunch is a place where Lunchers can create personalized review websites about their unique passions.  Community members can find and post reviews, topics, quick tips and lists on any particular topic related to the community.

The idea of a Community is to share content around a specific perspective that will shape the nature of the conversation.  The more niche the interest, the better for the members of that Community and also for everyone reading the reviews, lists, and quick tips.  Creating a dynamic where discussion and commentary with fellow enthusiasts is focused around a detailed subject brings both the participants and their contributions to a higher level. 

Communities on Lunch provide the ‘review’ context, a new format for connecting around shared interests online. This environment aims to draw out useful content around niche topics, encouraging more people to feel comfortable contributing quality content that can genuinely benefit others.

Communities on Lunch are curated by the Community Founder, who decides what gets reviewed (by setting which topics are in the Community), and sets the tone for how those topics get discussed.

All topics are organized at a global level on the main Lunch site; preventing great opinions and information from being lost in a disorganized message board thread, or trapped in an isolated social network or group. ...
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