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The community has grown too large (see CommunityMayNotScale) or it has lost focus (see TargetReached). Perhaps the content is in some kind of CopyrightTrap that is hindering growth, or there are technology-based problems with the old location. Perhaps the community is suffering under a GodKing or an AbsentLeader.

Therefore, StartAgain. Dissolve the community and start another one. Remember that TheCollective is mobile, and can change the pub. Try to retain the best elements from the old community, while removing problems. Retain links to the old content by InterWiki techniques such as UnifiedRecentChanges and NearLinks.

If the problem is due to the size of the community, then carefully select the new members and let the word spread through personal communication. In a sense, this is a GatedCommunity, where the barrier to entry is its obscurity. The big problem with starting from scratch is the loss of TheAudience and future members from SearchEngine coverage, bookmarks, links etc. However, if the problem is an excess of readers, these problems become benefits!


But, be warned that ForkingOfOnlineCommunities can be bad. This should be considered a last resort, when other approaches have failed. Aside from the loss of readers (which may not be what you want), you also face the legal problem of getting out of the CopyrightTrap.

Discussed (as "burn the house down") in [chap. 8] of DesignForCommunity.

The above text is PrimarilyPublicDomain

This technique is similar to the ceremonious rebirth of a culture group when its designated leader dies. To wit, at the ceremony installing the new leader, virtually all of the physical elements of the old culture are destroyed, and the members of the culture then set about to rebuilding everything from scratch -- all anyone is left with are the clothes on his or her back. Acceptance of this periodic cultural rebirth presumes that the wealth of a community is an ineffable something that is not found in its material possessions. Rather, the community's wealth is found in the collective memory of the community, something which the newly appointed community leader must cultivate. -- DavidPrenatt

I'm not convinced. One success story where this method succeeded doesn't mean that anyone will be able to repeat it (perhaps it's a 50-50 chance). Anyway - if in the situation - the host and the community have already proven their inability to stay on top of the development socially and/or technically. If you only talk about people and communication, that may be ok ("lets change the pub") but moving content may mean legal problems, loss of search-engine-coverage and loss of bookmark-consistency.

The WikiWiki and XP problem was before my time, so I can't really comment on it. But I think the main problem was that "finding patterns" is like a project that comes to an end pretty soon (cf TargetReached). If you want to keep the community going, you must open it and give it a new mission (an informal history of programming ideas is not enough). As far as I know, Ward never did. -- HelmutLeitner

When you StartAgain, you probably don't move content. Instead you link to it and (where appropriate and legal) copy it. The loss of traffic from search engines and bookmarks isn't necessarilly a bad thing - you may want that.


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