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  New Site Community?
I have a new site and I am interested in adding community to it. What is the best strategy in doing so?

Congratulations on the development of your new site. You ask a very valid and important question and our advice would be;

1) Start out small, i.e. with a message board or a chat room. You can always add to your community as it grows. Too much change on a site too quickly, however, will give the message of instability and will affect the way the membership views your services.
2) List your purpose for wanting to add a community component to your site. Making a list of all the reasons for adding community will help you start off on solid footing. Decide, before you launch your community who your audience is, what you want your community to look like in terms of the goals and mission, and most importantly why you want to build your community.
3) Establish a set list of community guidelines (Terms of Service). This will be the backbone and support of your community and will establish the rules for participation, as well as guidelines toward quality member content development and exchange.
4) Ensure that a moderation system is in place, whether this will encompass volunteer community members or paid staff. It is important that there is a system in place so that your membership feels safe, are able to receive support and assistance on the site, and that the content/exchange on your site is not spoiled by comments that will make you, your site or your site members feel uncomfortable.

Adding community to your site is an excellent way to attract traffic, supply your site with member driven content and provide a vehicle for like-minded individuals to meet and share. Take it slow and remember to do your homework to find out what the best community feature is for your site and your members. Best of luck to you!!

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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