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Recommended Podcast: Boagworld > Community Websites, by Paul Boag

by Tom Johnson on Jan 23, 2007 •
categories: technical-writing

A couple of weeks ago, Rhonda recommended Boagworld as a good podcast to listen to. If you're into web design, I also recommend this podcast, particularly the episode on Community Websites. This episode has two parts:


Paul mentioned a few interesting points about communities:

  • Users who can participate and contribute to your site feel more loyalty and belonging to your site.
  • The comments and information they add can also function as keywords to increase your site's rank.
  • You can nurture a community by asking questions. People like to answer questions because it makes them feel important; their responses give them their 15 seconds of fame.

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Asking more questions is a technique I plan to do just with my regular blog posts.

Also, Paul talked about the varying degrees of participation that sites allow, from simply allowing comments to allowing users to entirely control the content. He relates an experience of how he implemented a forum for one group, and it didn't have much participation. He then changed the medium to an email list, and it took off. He said you have to know your audience and the way they prefer to communicate.

He's got a cool English accent too, and says things like CONtribute instead of conTRIbute. (He sounds a little like the Geico Gecko, actually.) (In looking for an image of the gecko, I realized the gecko has his own blog!)

There's a bit of fluff at the beginning of the shows, but if you skip past it you soon sink into good content. You get the sense that he really knows what he's talking about.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation if you're looking for more info about that. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.