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5 years on: 3 Questions on how online communities have evolved since this Ning launched

By my reckoning, this community is 5 years old this week. 

To be honest, I'm frankly astonished it's still alive - it seems as if aeons have passed since Philip Weiss & I suggested to Hugh Barton-Smith to open this Ning up to those who attended the kickoff workshop at the end of May, 2009 (for the record, Neville Hobson also spoke via Skype from the UK). 

Anyway, Hugh opened it up and - perhaps against many expectations - this community's still here, chugging away with Ning's old-fashioned feature set and quaint design (you can still set the font size, for Goodness' sake!), while countless other communities have come, been and gone.

Three questions

As it happens, I've just been asked me to prepare a workshop on the role of online communities in governmental communications. Now this is something I first explored in 2002, but - again - times have changed. 

So I thought I'd come back here, to one of the oldest surviving communities I've ever been part of, to ask you for your perspective of what makes an 'online community' work in 2015. 

Nothing too scientific - I'm more interested in the conversation than the data - so please just use the commenting feature to tell me:

Q1. Why join a community?

What motivates you to register and create a personal profile in an online community? 

Q2. Why contribute to a community?

Joining is one thing, contributing more than a status update is something else: why spend time writing a blog or forum post, contributing news, events, publications, videos ...?

Q3. What features matter?

Given your motivations, above, what features and content types are essential, and what are Nice2Haves? On this Ning, for example, there is:

  • activity feed
  • personal profiles, in a members' gallery
  • community calendar
  • multi-author blog
  • groups
  • a chat room
  • forum
  • photo and video-sharing

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