How do Featured Communities work? That's a big question when I look at this datapoint. So I decided I was curious and wanted to know. I was hoping this write up would be shorter, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized expressing my thoughts were going to take more than 140 characters. So I decided to talk a little about it first and then we'll view what were the six featured communities on the home page when I began writing this review and seeing if there's anything that's noticeable.
I will say that I do understand what people mean when they say it feels as though there are communities featured based on favorites. This is because often times when it comes to "featured" content on Lunch... the content which gets featured is what is seen as being really good. If you've had the pleasure of having your review "featured," for example, it means someone behind the scenes thought you did a damn good job on it. Logically, it makes sense to assume this same kind of thinking goes about with the communities. And in some ways it's understandable. That's how featured content works in the case of reviews.
With communities it also appears to work that way, and I'd jump up and say, "Yeah, they're definitely picking favorites," and then I noticed my community appeared on the "Featured Communities" page one day and I thought, "Really?" The only reason I thought that is because the community itself has been established and is pressing forward nicely, but it's not exactly a community that's flourishing with all kinds of popularity. I run a community called The Gaming Hub. As I said, it's not exactly the most out there community. There aren't a ton of reviews that come in, and while there's some activity that goes on... other communities such as Adrianna's Cafe Libri: Reviewing Books and More are much more active and have a lot more contributions. So it doesn't seem as though it's based on the activity that goes on within communities. No doubt Cafe Libri is one of the most active communities out there. The Gaming Hub is not. So was it featured because it's a good community or to get the word out that for gamers who join the site there's something for them?
Here's the thing. In this instance it's perfectly reasonable that the answer could be both. Like when you come to the site's homepage, the "Featured Communities" at the front change from time to time. It actually does seem more based on how well constructed some of the communities are. Your community doesn't have to be "active" but it does seem as though it has to have a look to it, at least. Which is actually fair enough in my eyes. Seeing as how the more members a community has, the more likely it is to be more active... this seems rather fair to me. So I don't think communities are "featured" because of how busy they are, but more so for the fact that they are there.
I can't answer whether or not it feels like they're picking favorites. Each time I look at the featured communities on the home page, I always see a community I've never seen before, by members who are not quite as well known as those who are among the top contributors. I think much of it is random. On the other hand, seeing as how you are dealing with a website run by human beings, it's not unrealistic to think they'd want to pick the best of the best. If anything, the featured communities is a great way to get the word out there of other communities. It's just a wonder how they go about choosing which communities to feature. I find the, "They're picking favorites," hard to fathom. If they are picking favorites with featured communities... is this based off of the person running the community? The topics in the community? How would they do this? It's a little too broad. I'm not dismissing the notion, only saying that it seems like jumping to conclusions without fully exploring it.
If it's by how active a community is... then by far the most featured community should be Woopak's To Believe or Not to Believe the Hype. Except it's not. It has popped on the featured page from time to time. And it's pretty easy to assume there must be some elaborate conspiracy at work behind the scenes when you're recognizing certain communities. It's especially easy to recognize communities that ARE quite heavily active and are thriving. But it's important to understand... they were thriving before the "Featured Communities," thing was a reality. But it's also because they just happen to be on broad topics that were already heavily reviewed before those communities came to light.
It seems strange to point that out and say that, but I want to get the point across that these communities would have life even without actually being on the "Featured Communities" page. The population and the the activity seem to mean little in the long run of whether or not your community gets featured. Likewise, if it's based on Popularity (that is, the number of members) then THIS community (Community Founders) would be the one to feature. Likewise if it IS popularity based... uh, my Community should NEVER be featured. It only has 17 members (ranking it around the 48th most populated community and its around the 40th most active... as I write this piece anyway). There are roughly 140 communities as I write this review. In short, my community isn't that popular... or that active. In terms of Popularity outside of The Community Founders... the Strollerqueen's Strollerland would be in that category. And I've seen that featured as well.
Obviously, when you guys read this review you're going to get different results. The six featured communities will be different (some of you will read this a day or two after I've posted it) and the number of members and reviews each of these communities have is likely to change as well. But know that to make my point, I need to go about it this way.
But looking at it this way... here's my point. Clearly the community most of you are likely to have heard of is the Only WDWorld one. It has the most reviews and most members of any of the communities here. I, personally, have only heard of three of these communities (Glee-ful!, Only WDWorld and Moviesucktastic). Tomorrow, if it's random... I might see one or two of these communities featured tomorrow, or a couple of days from now. If I keep coming back to the site I'm GOING to see these communities featured again... they might even all be featured together.
Could it be random? Of course! Random doesn't mean, "Something different every time!" Let's put it this way. As I write this review there are approximately 140 communities. So let's pretened that we have a hat. And in this hat are 140 slips of paper each with a number written on it. One slip has the number 1. Another slip has the number 2... etc. You get the idea. Now, imagine, if you will, that once you pull a number out you are to immediately put it back into the mix. Is there a chance you could pull the same number twice? This isn't some answer subject to opinion, the answer is yes. You could. You also might not. If you're putting it back in you're apt to pull a number more than once (more than twice) before you pull out all 140 numbers once. Of course all the results are apt to be differet at first. You're less likely to draw say... 2 four times within the first ten draws.
So it could be random and some of us are just seeing a strange pattern come forth. I, for example, don't always pay attention to "Featured Communities." I'll certainly notice if one of the comunities I happen to be a member of or that I know the founder of happens to get a mention. For example, I've bee around the Only WDWorld community and I've been around the Moviesucktastic. It wasn't hard to notice them. I recognized the communities before even reading their names, and with how many times I've been through the home page, I might notice them starring at me again and again. The others I actually had to take a moment and read the names. What you recognize and know just might jump out at you before that which you don't know. So, in truth, I can't tell you what community was featured more than another. In the first place, I don't keep tally. In the second place, it has helped me discover communities I may not have otherwise discovered.
Somthing else to consider is that unlike the "Featured Reviews" the "Featured Communities," don't change as often. When I began writing this piece the six communities were featured. I saved a draft, came back three hours later and it was still those six communities. With "Featured Reviews" on the home page, the results will change when you refresh the page (the first three on top will remain for a certain amount of time, but the final two will change with each click of the refresh button). Featured Communities seem to change less often.
There is this idea that listing off "Featured Communities," means you're saying one community is better than another. We've only jumped to this conclusion, of course, because that's what the feeling is when it comes to reviews. Because when you feature a review generally it means it was a pretty good piece. It's no surprise, then, that in our mind we look at "Featured Communities," in the same manner. It very well COULD mean that, of course, but we don't know with how many communities... or which communities. For example a community that has one member, no reviews, no lists etc.... probably isn't going to be featured more so because it appears no one is doing anything with it. And let's not pretend that this isn't a possibility. Right now that's a rare thing to see... but as more and more communities come up there are bound to be some communities that either don't get off the ground or could potentially be abandoned. Do those communities get featured if the founder abandons a community or doesn't do much of anything with it? Do you feature those communities? I do like the idea of featuring some of the best of the best communities. It's just hard to figure out which community is among the best. And perhaps there is no "best" and it really truly is randomized based on a selection of communities that Lunch deemed good enough to feature. As I said, a sloppy community is probably better off not being featured. I don't say that to be mean, only because a community that isn't fully prepared for members should be given a chance to look nice first. I wouldn't like to see a featured community, for example, that has absolutely no content. It's the same reason why you wouldn't want to see a review featured that only says, "This thing sucks!" It's a bad review. And if it's a bad review it probably doesn't need to be featured. The same thing is true of communities. If it's a bad community (i.e. it's there... but no one is doing anything so it lacks pictures, reviews... maybe even topics!) then it's probably better off not being featured for the time being. There's no shame in letting a community get dressed before it can head out.
I suppose that's a subjective thing. I will say, however, that it is good to have communities featured because it means your community gets out there. People can discover it. They can browse too, but it is nice to see certain communities featured from time to time. It can be a nice boost. Or it can be seen as a nice reward. After all, if it's featured it probably means it was put together rather well. I just have my doubts that it's based on popularity or content within it. As shown up above... having more members or more content doesn't guarantee your community will be featured.
In the end, featuring communities is a good thing. It helps those who've created communities. If anything the big question seems to be more than anything... how does it work? And how is it decided? Is it really random or is there something behind it. And this is why I think it puzzles people. Behind the scenes we just don't know how it works and what's going on. All we know is what it seems like on the surface. And on the surface it seems as though there's no real basis other than to make sure you've got a well presented community more so than based on how popular your community might be or how well it's actually flourishing. The notion that they're picking favorites is still there, by the way, it's just that based on my observations so far, it's hard for me to jump to that conclusion just yet. There might be a set number of communities picked to feature and it simply rotates, but at this point I'm not sure.
Featuring communities is a good thing. Choosing to feature well-to-do communities is a good thing. On the other hand, I still have curiosities about how the system works as a whole and how exactly they're chosen.
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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