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"Design for Community: The art of connecting real people in virtual places."
ISBN 0735710759 (alternate, search) (available now)
Paperback - 300 pages (August 2001)
Preface: Everything I needed to know about web community I learned in high school algebra class 
The author retells an early experience of an unusual virtual community which illustrates the play out of anonymity and soft security.
Introduction: Defining our terms 
- Web communities happen when users are given tools to use their voice in a public and immediate way, forming intimate relationships over time.
Chapter 1: What to know before you begin 
- I have a terrible admission to make. As much as I believe in community on the web, and as much as I want to see more of it happening, in my years of work as a web designer and consultant, I have convinced about eighty percent of my clients not to add community features to their websites.
Chapter 2: A conversation with Matt Haughey 
- Chapter 2 is all about the chicken-and-egg relationship between content and community. So I wanted to end it with a site that's interesting because, in many ways, it contradicts much of what I said in the chapter. Meet Matt Haughey, proprietor of MetaFilter, a community site that's interesting because its content is just a link to a story elsewhere. Yet even in that simple equation, the tone of that link becomes incredibly important.
Chapter 3: A Conversation with Steven Johnson 
- Steven Johnson has been designing sites with a strong interplay between magazine-style content and rich community functionality for as long as the web's been around. As co-founder of the experimental webzine FEED and its associated community area the Loop, he's learned a lot about the way interface design influences community. As one of the founding partners of Automatic Media, he's now working on Plastic — a site built on the same engine as Slashdot, but with a different audience in mind.
Chapter 3: Design Matters 
- In my experience with the visual design of community spaces, I've seen some common threads. And though it's hard to quantify exactly how much the visual design of a community space contributes to quality of the contributions, it's impossible to deny that one directly influences the other.
Chapter 4: Picking the right community tool 
- There are hundreds of different tools out there for hundreds of different sites. But in my experience in the web community biz, I've categorized four different genres of community tools.
Essays by the Author
In search of technological solutions to netiquette problems 
Derek makes direct mention of TheSeptemberThatNeverEnded to set the scene for his next comment: "What's needed now, I believe, is the development of technological solutions to netiquette problems." He does provide some interesting examples though.
- submission checks & filters
- conversion of ALLCAPS to lowercase
- automagical linking of questions to existing answers in FAQs (at jGuru)
- newbie probation at MetaFilter (cf. AccessLevels)
- filtering of mis-directed email commands
- Small Group Dialogues with enforced limits on time, # participants, and identity
- Don't forget the content - you need more than functionality
- Interlink content and community
- Trust your users (Yay! someone gets it)
- Don't call it a community - It's not the WikiOnWiki problem, it's premature labelling (see #1 above)
- Buy my book - heh heh
[the earliest community space for Derek's book was hosted at CommunityZero? ...]
- [...] an attitude of TechnologySolutions abound, complete with chat, files, polls, invites, yada-yada-yuck [...] -- EricScheid
- On my first visit I left the site after finding out that visitors could only read partial messages on the bulletin board, and could see only titles of replies. A little later I decided to sign up mostly to see how many other people had joined despite the initial barriers. The signup was relatively painless--it didn't even require email verification. (You do need to check a box indicating that you agree with a multi-page [Terms of Service] document.) There is some good content on the site, including several posts from developers of community software. Finally, Derek did do a poll to see if the current members wanted to move, and found that more than 80% wanted to stay at communityzero.com. -- CliffordAdams
Note: The text above is in reference to the toolset at CommunityZero?, which I was just playing with while writing the book (I didn't care for them much either). There is a conversation space at the new designforcommunity.com which is totally different. -- DerekPowazek
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