How Not To Grow A Web Community

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Geekz has been a side passion for years as I have attempted to grow some type of sustainable audience and more importantly, a community, around the topics that interest me most.  I started off re-posting many articles that I found interesting.  I was basically curating content for the page for a very long time.  Then, I got serious about content and I started trying to create much more of the content myself and filling in the dead space with articles that were of interest to my geek nature.  Over the course of time, I have learned a lot about what does NOT work when attempting to build an active community around an idea or interest.  I will share a few of those here, and maybe a tip or two that have been helpful.  Frankly, Geekz is still not an active community, so I can only share what seems to have brought me any activity and not what really makes a successful community.

First off, I can say that curating content may be a great way to bring enough traffic to a site to support some level of advertising.  However, it will not sustain a community.  Fresh content has been a huge factor in actually getting the attention of users in the ether.  Coming up with that content, and regularly supplying it to a hungry audience, takes a lot of time and energy.  I would not say that I am a writer.  I am definitely a geek with interests in technology, cryptocurrency, gadgets, gaming, etc.  Now, not having that passion for writing makes coming up with interesting written posts extremely difficult.  I have discovered that taking notes when I am in more of a creative mood helps.  I keep my tablet and my Apple pencil close by to jot down notes as they come to me which will eventually become posts that I share with my audience.  I have not ventured into the world of scheduled posts to date.  I think I need to be generating a lot more original content before that becomes useful on a regular basis.

Another thing that I have learned over the last few years is that the Internet is a very competitive environment.  It used to be a place where someone could quickly throw together a page or site and turn it loose and immediately gain some level of viewership.  Today, bloggers and writers are fighting an uphill battle against all manners of technologies that seek to capture the attention of the Web.  There is so much content on the Internet today, that it is hard to make a splash as a blog writer, especially if you are more excited about the tech than you are in writing about it.  So, writers have to find ways to capture the attention of readers.  Many do this with the use of ridiculous titles or shock.  I believe there has to be a better way to accomplish the task without sinking to that level.  When I discover what it is, I will share it.

One key item that has made it hard to create a community is the technology behind the community.  For every online community, there is a back end.  Sometimes these systems are built custom to the community, and other times they are simply re-themed offerings of the big blog, forum, or community platform.  This site, for example, is built upon WordPress.  WordPress offers the feature set, and I make the site work in such a way as to arrange the content and look and feel to attract visitors.  I have tried many systems over the years, and WordPress seems to be the most fitting for the type of community I want to build.  Along with the choice of the platform, there may be other concerns, such as forum software or community-specific features.  I have found that it is better to build something smaller and grow it into a larger community than to put a lot of time and effort into building this massive platform only to discover that you are unable to bring people to your niche site.

As I mentioned, I have not been successful to date in building what I really want this community to be.  I am a geek and I share interests with many others and I hope to one day bring a lot of like-minded people together to share our interests.  I am trying to do that through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc).  I just recently created the /r/Geekzweb subreddit and I am seeing some activity there.

Author: Phil

Phil Williams is an engineer with around 20 years of information technology industry experience with past focus areas in security, performance, and compliance monitoring and reporting. Phil is a husband, father of 6 children, and an avid geek who loves building computers, gaming, and gadgets. He has an undergraduate degree in general IT sciences and has worked with the US Government as a contractor for over 20 years. He is now in a security solutions advisory role for a large vendor supporting commercial and enterprise customers.

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