Episode 329: TOTW on Community Quality

Today I want to share some thoughts on Community quality and why I think some really large communities are no goes for so many people.

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Next Wednesday will be a website Q&A show and will record live on Youtube at 12pm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl3OvqIp4J8

Then Thursday is a special Edition of the Holler Neighbor LIvestream at 7pm Central. We will be welcoming a new neighbor – any idea who it might be?

 TOTW on Community Quality

Have you ever thought you found a great group of people that you could interact, a community say surrounding a hobby like kayaking or building birdhouses, only to discover that they SEEMED great from the outside but once you got to the inside, most folks just talked about doing these things rather than doing them.

Our community quality metrics are skewed. Facebook launched way back when and it quickly became a competition about how many friends you had. And this is similar to how we measure the success of community. When successful groups and communities are talked about, they are measured by how many people are in them. What matters is size.

But what if this measure is wrong?

The best communities are not successful because they are large, it is because they are effective. And to be effective, a community needs high quality members. Therefore, community success is more dependent on the quality of the community members rather than how many will join. 

This can be a hard concept for people to embrace because we have been taught that more is better. Sometimes more is not better. More of what is the best question to ask. More members who take instead of do? More members who focus on discouraging action rather than encouraging action? More members who unload piles of problems on everyone around them?

Or more members who also enjoy making birdhouses and share places to get free materials that can be repurposed?

Yep, communities should be measured by the quality of their participants, not the quantity. But it goes a little further than that. The flip side is that the overall quality of your community will tend to be measured by your weakest member.

You heard me.

The weakest one.

You can have an all-star, super awesome lineup with groups of great participants, but if you also have a trainwreck or two and allow them to stay in the community, you will soon see things reduced to the lowest denominator.

And this is why is can be so hard to keep a community strong. Because we want to be nice. Because we want to lift people up. And these desires are not a bad thing.

But as you navigate finding a community to join, or starting one yourself, remember what quality means. And when you find yourself in the position of leader, remember what that means – it means that it becomes up to you and other leaders in the group to maintain a quality membership. THe less fun part of that is ejecting the trouble makers.

But when a group comes together, unified by common values and interests, you will find that cutting the drama and drag is not very hard. Often the community will handle it quietly.

Over the years at LFTn we have had a few energy vampires show up and move on. And we have seen community members face hard times and become a temporary drain. And over the years, the community has gotten stronger and stronger in part because every one is a doer and supports doers. They help each other get past the hard times. And the best thing? They do stuff so the vampires get fed up and leave. It is a self-regulating culture rather than a dictatorship.

So as we think about the communities we want to help, to join, to invest in — remember the big picture. Quality, not quality, is how you and your community win the game.

Make it a great week!

GUYS! Don’t forget about the cookbook, Cook With What You Have by Nicole Sauce and Mama Sauce. It makes a great Christmas Gift!

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