All the people right here right now: An introduction to community
When we founded Exfluency, we knew we’d be using innovative blockchain technology, industry-leading data security protocols and advanced neural machine translation engines. But we also knew that it was community, above all else, that sat at the heart of what we were creating.
Community was the central element that would enable us to make the impact we wanted on the world. Because all the technology in the world is only useful if it helps people do more and do good. Our central mission is to break down language barriers, and help the world communicate more effectively. Without community, we couldn’t do that.
What is a community?
Whether online in a digital space like Exfluency, offline where we gather in person, or a combination of both, modern communities have consistent core elements that define them.
Hundreds of years before the internet, people around the world would gather to connect and contribute. Thousands of years from now, we might be living in colonies in outer space, but we’ll still get together in communal groups that create much of the meaning in our lives.
Community is a foundational part of human life, and can be extraordinarily powerful in business. In this article, we’ll share our views on communities: what they are, and how they work. Let’s start with the central element of community: purpose.
What is a community’s purpose?
Think of communities as different as an amateur football club or a group of regulars at a local pub or people who love jazz music or wine or weightlifting. All these communities are built around a shared purpose, project or goal. The football club might be focused on winning a championship. The punters at the pub might be primarily focused on connecting with friends after long days at work. The people at the gym might share a common desire to get in better physical shape, trade workout tips, and support each other’s fitness journeys.
The point is there needs to be a reason for people to gather on an ongoing basis. A central purpose that creates the ‘spine’ of the community. That’s the gravitational force that pulls people in, and gets them excited about being part of the community. Without that engine, a community may dissolve after a short time.
Who is in a community?
Most communities have a mix of different types of people who play different roles. There are leaders, and there are followers. There are those who contribute regularly, and those who make sporadic, but often quite valuable contributions. Some community members want to participate in everything a community offers. Others are focused on a specific area of interest.
There are also different roles inside a community.
A community needs a variety of people and roles to be rich and rewarding. In the Exfluency Community, we have clearly defined functional roles for our community members, including Redactors, Enhancers and Trust Miners. But over time, we know that other defining roles will emerge. Communities eventually take on a life of their own because communities ultimately belong to the people in them.
Another key role, especially in commercially focused communities, is the Community Manager. At Exfluency, Community Managers play dual roles, both recruiting and onboarding new members, and managing and overseeing community operations day-to-day. Effective Community Managers have a strong understanding of a community’s purpose, and the value it offers members.
What is the ideal community design?
As we’ve noted, communities evolve on their own. They build their own momentum, driven by the will of those in the community as much as the core strategy underpinning it.
Ideally, a community will:
- Have a clear purpose that members can rally behind.
- Create opportunities for different types of people to contribute in different types of roles.
- Offer clear opportunities to contribute and work towards the community’s goals.
- Be animated by a core set of shared values.
- Offer a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to participate.
We built Exfluency – and our community members and managers continue to evolve the community – based on all these principles.
What are the community’s values?
A smart community design includes a clear articulation of core values. These serve as recruitment filters (‘do you share our beliefs?’), as well as key signposts for how members should act inside the community once they join.
Values are different from community to community.
A community of scientists will value empirical evidence, amongst other things. A community of artists will likely value creativity. A community of people who’ve suffered trauma may value empathy and compassion.
Communities can underperform or become toxic without a shared set of values to ground what happens inside them.
At Exfluency, our core values are simplicity, integrity and what we call the power of sharing. All these things create a ‘true north’ for our community and signposts on the road to achieving our goals.
Why would someone participate in a community?
Life is hectic. People are busy with work, family and personal interests. A community needs to provide its members a compelling reason to contribute, and come back again and again. These reasons typically fall into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.
An extrinsic motivation is tangible, often material. If someone contributes their subject matter expertise to the Exfluency community, they’re compensated financially. They can build new connections that will advance their career. These things are explicit and measurable.
What’s next in the Exfluency community?
We’re now creating – and recruiting for – gated communities on our platform. We’re also offering our clients the ability to create a home for and work with their existing communities on our platform. This is just the start of our ambition to offer a place for some of the world’s most compelling, motivated communities to thrive.
Thanks to our community
One final note.
One thing you learn quickly in the community business is that, as Patti Smith said, people have the power. With that in mind, we want to thank everyone who has contributed to Exfluency since we launched, particularly our incredible community members. We are here to support and enable you. Our business is built on our ongoing partnership. So, thank you.
The Power of Community
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”African Proverb