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February 9, 2004
Do online communities need reporters?
Lee LeFever is thinking about the potential benefits of having a weblog inside (or outside) an online community
The combination of a weblog and normal community tools (discussions, member profiles, etc.) makes for an impressive set of resources for the members. The weblog can act as a filter for the various discussions occurring on the site and provide members an easy way to find the most interesting or provocative discussions. Plus, being recognized on the weblog could be a incentive for thoughtful participation.
Another way to look at this is making an online community's weblog a public resource, but making the community private. In this way, the weblog pulls members into the community membership based on what they see on the weblog. I guess you could call it weblog-based PR for the community.
This is an interesting idea. For some time I've been thinking that wiki communities might also benefit from having a journalist or two to help others make sense of what's happening globally. An RSS feed of recent changes just isn't meaningful enough. Back when Wikipedia
was starting out, I recall founder Larry Sanger used to write weekly reports on what had been going on in the 'pedia and I found that useful. Howard Rheingold's Brainstorms community does have an internal volunteer group-edited newsletter called "the Brainstorms Scoop", which helps locate the interesting recent action in the huge volume of messages that the community produces.
In terms of enabling outsiders to be aware of what's going on inside a community and perhaps drawing some of them in, I think a good blogger could do wonders.
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