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Friday, February 10, 2006

TOP TIPS: Establishing public communities of practice

From humble beginnings to a membership of over 10,000 KM practitioners, academics and students, the European Commission-funded KnowledgeBoard is now Europe's most diverse, developed and dynamic, public online knowledge community. How can you ensure your own online community is successful? Here are three top tips to consider when developing a public community of practice.

Motivated leaders are key to sustaining participationLike communities of practice in private enterprise, motivated leaders of subject groups (SGs) within a public community are vital to maintaining and developing interest. Successful leaders are often those who volunteer because there's a specific angle they are interested in. They're happy to take the time and communicate with as many people as are interested. SG leaders who contribute little or cannot afford the time will soon lose interest.

Interest, not practice drives a public communityUnlike corporate CoPs, public communities are not driven by the need to resolve specific issues or develop specific projects. Public communities are driven by individuals needing and sharing insight and information about practical, everyday problems. Such a community will more likely - especially in its early stages - to be a source of information and ideas than advice on practice.

Balance freedom and moderation Because community members post what they think are interesting articles and comments, a public community can reflect a broader interest than just the original subject matter. Left unchecked, this freedom can result in a dilution of quality information. However, too much moderation and control from community owners can result in members backing off and the development of the community stalling.

Adapted from The public voice: Managing a pan-European community in the current issue of KM Review.


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