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A New Kind Of Community

Awhile back I posted a blog entry about stackexchange and I was waiting to get into the beta for a site I wanted to create.  Well 2 months ago that time came and I got my site configured and launched.  I work in the systems integration industry so the goal of my site is to bring control systems integrators together, to share knowledge in one spot, and build a huge Q&A knowledge base online around controls and automation.

If you are reading this and don’t have a clue what controls and automation is, that’s okay because there are other sites you can join. Everything from parenting to finance or even math.   See stackexchange for the complete list of communities that have been started (there are 108 of them!), or you can even start your own.

Fog creek software (Joel on software) decided a couple years back that their programmer community needed a Google friendly Q&A community.  They are in the computer programming business, and sure, there are a ton of PC forums out there, but they did not want a forum or a discussion board, and they knew exactly why.  It had to be open, free, easily read by Google and most importantly, allow a user to easily ask a question and get an answer, and of course, easily answer a question.  They built which is now the #1 tech site on the internet, reaching an estimated third of the words programmers (and that number is from quite awhile ago).  There are almost half a million questions (and even more answers) on!

I am really excited about my new site and others like it.  Systems Integrators are knowledge based companies. The knowledge of their people, and their efficiencies are what makes the company successful – and that is true of any service based company.  There are so many different controls platforms out there, so many different application and solution combinations, and combine that with old and new technologies and regulations,  it makes your head spin.  And most companies don’t talk to each other for competitive reasons.  But the basic stuff out there is not even close to rocket science and there is way too much stuff out there for any one or any company to know it all.  Don’t share your trade secrets or IP of course, but the little stuff.  The annoying little questions that you know someone has the answer to, someone has done what you are trying to do already.  Give yourself some web presence and free marketing, and participate!

The stackexchange engine is the  next generation of discussion board, incorporating all the features of web 2.0 and removing all of the bad features of discussion boards.  You can ask and answer questions without even signing up. You can vote, tag, subscribe, comment, and edit questions and answers.  The best questions and answers rise to the top because the community votes them there.  No searching though pages of threads to find an answer.  And you get reputation points for the Q&A you provide and badges for sticking around and doing things.

It is a fun way to share knowledge and build a community, so if you were looking for a way to join in, there is bound to be a site that peaks your interest.  Go ahead and try one out!  And maybe you won’t be able think of a question right now, but there will be a time when you have one, and just maybe you could have some fun with it and ask the community, and even find a question to answer to earn some “rep”.

I guarantee you will never look at a discussion board the same way again.  They are soooo last decade.

Posted in 2.0 Lessons, Business, Social Media, Social Media Tools.

2 Responses

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  1. Todd Youngblood says

    Jeremy – You’re doing a great favor for the Control Systems Integration community. Asking and getting answers to tech questions is by itself, a big deal. I think, however, that exposure to the power of this sort of tool is of even greater value.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Tweets that mention A New Kind Of Community | Jeremy On 2.0 -- linked to this post on January 15, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott W. and Jeremy Sluyters, Steven Kass. Steven Kass said: "A new kind of community – Discussion boards are sooo last decade" – via @jsluyters Well said! […]

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