Failure of Online Communities

Harold Jarche, Jarche Consulting, Feb 02, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Harold Jarche cites Jay Cross, who remarks en passant, "After the session, several people told me they really appreciated Bill telling it like it is. Early on, he said that while he thought he was pretty good at fostering online communities, 90% of the communities he sets up fail." Bill probably is good at setting up online communities. But I wonder whether a community that has been set up is doomed to fail. I wonder whether, instead, what we should be looking at as community is the interactions between people in a distributed environment - such as the network of blogs and readers and commenters that make up what might be called the edublogging community (actually several communities, but I digress). A seminar, a meeting space, an online discussion board - these are not communities. They may be a place the community meets, but if the community doesn't have a life outside these spaces, it will not survive for long in them.
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