Too Much Information

1 Nov
Information overload.

This is the newest and greatest challenge of our information age: With all of the content published everyday, how can we make sense of it, organize it and reference it after the fact? Clearly we need some way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Recommender systems, such as Amazon uses, are one potential answer, but they’re a little hit or miss.

The best judges of value are still people. Even better, are people like us. Those who share are interests and background. This is where the concept of a folksonomy is effective; a list of tags and categories supplied by other users. In the context of a focused private community, that folksonomy can be powerful indeed.

Of course, such communities don’t spring into existence magically. That’s a result of the 90/9/1 rule: 90% of of the members in the community simply ready the content, 9% will add comments, tags, ratings, etc. to existing content, and 1% will actually generate or introduce new content. New communities tend to be small, and 1% of small is a whole lot smaller.

The secret to being an effective online community manager is to actively work to shift the proportions. Identify and empower those individuals most likely to contribute. Given them responsibility. Give them a title. Give them a prominent profile within the community. When given the chance (and the “go-ahead”) community members will add a lot of value in the form of input, content, community policing and of course, social curation. By reaching out, thanking and encouraging good social curation practices among the most active members, a vast knowledge base will build quickly. That will attract others to participate, and the community will thrive.

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