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Online Community Builder's Purpose Checklist

by Nancy White

Updated 5/07


What is the desired outcome for the group? What is the INTENT?


  • What is the purpose and desired outcome for the group? What is the INTENT? Does it have a mission or a vision that you can communicate to potential members?
  • Are the benefits measurable and visible to members and potential members? Are the benefits focused on the individual member? The group?
  • Is the outcome determined by the organizer? Group members? Both?
  • If the group is part of a larger organization, is it consistent with organizational goals and culture?
  • Is the group's purpose something that can only be done/accomplished online? Will it replace something offline? Or is it some combination?

    Target Audience What kinds of participants (target audience) do you want to draw in or need to participate?

  • How would you describe them?
  • How motivated are your participants to participate? What is "in it for them?"
  • Do they have adequate computer equipment and Internet access to have a satisfactory experience on your system? Do you tell them the minimum requirements up front?
  • Do you want your community to be public or private? If private, what determines eligibility?
  • What is the ideal size for your group? Is there a limit to how many members can participate? Do you have a sense of how your community can expand if there is greater interest?
  • Where might you find potential participants?
  • How might you communicate with your participants to market your online interaction space? (Remember: If you build it, they may not come!)
  • Are you building from an existing pool of participants? Or drawing in new people?

    Type of Member Interactions What kinds of discussions/interactions do you want to foster?

  • Is it information sharing? Knowledge sharing?
  • Is it social networking? Relationship or focused on helping people find each other?
  • Is it meeting oriented?
  • Is it learning oriented?
  • Is it task oriented? (Project/team/class etc.)
  • Is it question & answer?
  • Is it discussion focused?
  • Are the discussions focused or wide-ranging?
  • Are the discussions started by you or by the members?
  • Are the discussion intellectual? Social? Sensitive? Controversial? Are they focused around information such as documents or other static content?
  • Will the activities generate content/knowledge that needs to be captured?
  • Do they need to be synchronous (same time) and/or asynchronous (different time) interactions? or a mix?
  • Do they have a strong visual component (pictures, diagrams)?

    Time Frame How long will the online interaction last?

  • Are there specific timelines or a project to be accomplished?
  • Is it an ongoing online interaction space - open ended?
  • Is it time delimited?

    Guidelines, Rules and Governance

  • Is there the need for rules, agreements or governance for the online interaction?
  • Will there be strong and defined rules, or more general and/or casual guidelines?
  • How will you communicate this to the members?
  • Will there be problem resolution processes? How will you share that process?
  • If this is a work team, what processes and agreements will you need?
  • Do members have to agree to a "Terms of Service" or other form of agreement before becoming members?

    Who makes decisions in the community about the online interaction space?

  • The online interaction platform owner?
  • The members?
  • An organization?
  • Both?
  • How?

    Who will facilitate in your online interaction space?

  • If not you, how will the facilitators be trained?
  • What will be their responsibilities?
  • How will they be supported and/or compensated?
  • What kind of reporting will you have them do to monitor as needed?

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    Seattle, WA 98105
    (206) 517-4754

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