Wednesday, 22 January 2014

What do you want to see in the new online community?

Back in October we announced that Netbuddy was joining Scope to create a new online community. We’ve spent the last few months talking to Netbuddy and Scope followers about what they’d like to see in the new joint community. We’ve done this through an online survey, emails, phone calls, Skype and face to face interviews.

Here are the common things people told us they wanted from the new online community:

 

Shared experiences

Two women talking over coffee

People spoke about the desire to connect with people in a similar situation, in a variety of different and changing ways. Some people came to the sites looking for emotional support, for others it was about getting practical advice – but the common need was to find people “like them”. We want the new community to help people make these connections.

The ability to help others

It’s not all about receiving support – people also had a strong and genuine desire to help others through their contributions online. We want to make it easy for people to ask for and give help by letting people discover areas of expertise, find people who need support and enable people to acknowledge when content has been useful.

 

Immediacy and timeliness

Neon sign which says - open 24 hours
(photo by Leo Reynolds)

With sites like Twitter and Facebook, immediacy has become the norm. The people we spoke to expected immediate responses when they posted online so an online community can’t just run 9am – 5pm, only on weekdays! People expect their posts to be sent out immediately and be notified if anyone responds straight away. We will need to make sure people can access advice from the community whatever the time or the day.

Ownership

People felt strongly about the need to belong to the community. This might mean that staff will occasionally need to take a step back, and give people in the community more control over how it’s run and how it develops. Doing this research and involving people from the community in the process is the first way we’re doing this, and we will involve the community in anyway we can as we progress.
Netbuddy followers told us how much they valued the site champions and experts, so we hope to continue these roles and grow the number of champions supporting people to use the community.

A safe and trusted space

(photo by rightee)
(photo by rightee)

Whilst people wanted ownership and immediacy, they also wanted to be able to use the community to suit their personal situation. This might mean discussing sensitive personal issues, not suitable for sites like Facebook, without fear of abuse or prejudice. We’ll work closely with the community, champions, experts, and staff to make the community as safe, welcoming and friendly as possible.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the research so far. We’ve learnt so much over the last few months and we will continue going through all the feedback as we build the new community.
We’ll be posting more updates here on the blog and we’ll share any opportunities to get involved. Our focus for the coming months will be on building and moving across the forums from Scope and Netbuddy onto the new online community. If you are a forum user – we will be in touch. Later in the year we plan to start moving the tips and events content into the new community. Again, we'll keep you posted.

We'd like to say a big thank you to Sam Mentor and Ant Mace for conducting the research with us and providing their fantastic insight and expertise.

If you have any questions, please comment below or you can contact me by emailing emma@netbuddy.org.uk

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