Online community, not forum

IrishGaelicTranslator.com was a successful community

In the 1990s, I had a homepage, and was getting Irish language translation requests a lot. It must have been enough times anyway, because I decided at some point to host a forum where people could ask for translations.

The forum changed URLs several times, and I settled on the name of IrishGaelicTranslator.com because that’s what Google said people were searching for.

From then on, I was the enabler of what was quite a successful community. The site hit 400,000 page views a month when I sold it. There were probably a dozen new topics a day, with moderators and “mini-moderators” in place to keep the community healthy.  It had a single community page, which worked well (rather than many quiet sub-forums).

I was having trouble keeping the server going because of the traffic. I’d be in the code of the forum software, trying to optimise results. Surely it would have been possible to keep going, because other forum sites much busier managed to do so. I should have employed help perhaps, but cashing out was a good decision.

I tried more forums since

I set up a forum for people moving to Slovenia, because at the time we were strongly considering that move. I wanted to connect with others in the same boat. I get one “interview topic” up, interviewing an ex-pat I knew who was living there. But I didn’t get any other traffic sources in, the place just died.

I set up TWO forums for Bitesize Irish Gaelic. Both failed! The failed in terms of hardly anyone seeming to post there. The second attempt certainly had some people posting, but it must have been too quiet. I honestly don’t remember very well. But I was treating them as “forums”, just places where you post questions. I wanted people to “connect” with each other but didn’t really have a goal for the community!

Community, not forum

Well, third time lucky, I hope. We’re setting up a new in-house community for Bitesize members. This time, I’m finding it much more interesting to think about how to do community building.

I believe my interest in establishing a community was sparked by us planning our “Client Fulfilment System” for Bitesize (from E-Myth Mastery book). There was a customer advocacy paper which emphasised helping customers reach each other, reach the business, and help them advocate for a cause externally. I soon found lots of interesting topics including:

You instantly hit topics like a community needs a place, it needs to find a common purpose, and it can be built by achieving things together.

You soon hit related topics like setting up communities for social change, and community building in urban design. It’s a question of helping the community help each other.

It’s a fascinating area. Third time lucky for Bitesize’s community? Let’s try!


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