Resources for Designing Online Communities or Social Web Applications

A couple of recent publications on designing / building social web applications that you should check out. More to say about each after the jump.

  • Joshua Porter on the Bungee Line Podcast
  • Chris Brogan’s Social Media and Social Networking Starting Points
  • Forrester Report from Jeremiah Owyang on Online Community Best Practices

Joshua Porter of Bokardo, has a book coming out: Design Social Applications (Voices That Matter). He was also recently interviewed by Alex Barnett and Ted Haeger for The Bungee Line podcast: Social Design with Joshua Porter. It’s a great interview, ~45 minutes, covering many of the themes covered at Bokardo: social software as modeling the real world, personal value before social value, and data driven design. I look forward to the book.

Chris Brogan also recently published Social Media and Social Networking Starting Points, a quick, concise, eBook focused on how companies can get started in the world of social media, especially with the concept of encouraging employees to blog or otherwise connect with online audiences. Key takeway: don’t obsess about “corporate blog policy” – take your corporate email / web terms or policy you already have (don’t reveal corporate or client secrets, don’t post pornography or copyrighted material, etc) and treat your employees as adults.

Finally, Jeremiah Owyang‘s first Forrester Report (Online Community Best Practices) is out and it’s a good sign of things to come. Unfortunately this one isn’t free, unless you have access to a Forrester subscription. (If you do, get the report from the Forrester site). The report doesn’t exactly break new ground – as the “best practices” in the title suggests, it synthesis and summarizes the core ideas enterprises need to hear as they think about creating online communities. As I read it, I found myself nodding vigorously, and recognizing mistakes people make that result directly from skipping some of these best practices.

My favorite part is the section on “A Taxonomy of Detractors” which lists these types:

  • Legitimate complainer
  • Competitor
  • Engaged critic
  • Flamer
  • Troublemaker

And then describes ways of dealing with those detractors, ranging from “engage rationally” to “remove from community.” I like that it doesn’t oversell the fear of bad actors in a community (which can scare companies away from engaging in social media) but also doesn’t ignore it – just notes that there are clear ways of handling such problems.


  1. Thanks, you’re right, it’s a collection of practices from 17 or so of the successful companies.

    The report is really aimed at what’s happening in 2008, companies are starting to toe dip and it’s starting to become of interest. As such this is really a ‘how to’ guide for corporations.

    Thank you for your feedback.

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