An easy way to keep community discussions alive

by Martin Reed on 21 June 2011 in Snippets

Many conversations that start in online communities suffer a premature death.

For a real, meaningful conversation to develop, you want to see a few committed members keep it going. They need to bounce their opinions off one another and get into a debate. They need to ask questions, and get answers. Most of the time this doesn’t happen – members forget to check in on discussions and they miss questions that are directed their way.

An easy way to keep community discussions alive is to send an email notification to members when someone contributes to a discussion they’re involved in. Most community platforms offer this feature, but it’s normally off by default. Switch it on.

A member has already shown an interest in a certain discussion by getting involved so it stands to reason that they’d like to know when someone else contributes so they can follow the conversation.

Make this small change (make sure members can still opt-out if they wish) and you’ll see longer, livelier and healthier conversations in your online community.

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Karen R June 22, 2011 at 7:25 am

I find that keeping in contact, emailing and keeping the topic alive is best for community building, I belong to a few related forums and you have to keep working at it.

Shelli September 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I’m annoyed when I get random emails from the various threads I weigh in. It would be nice if I could be notified of interesting updates within the forum/board. A visual indicator perhaps. but nothing I’d have to manage or clear out if I chose to ignore it.

Ah, wishful thinking.

Tommy T May 10, 2012 at 4:40 am

Like Shelli, I’m in two minds about this.

There’s nothing more annoying than logging into my e-mail to 100 “You have a topic reply” notifications in my e-mail box.

What I do do, though, is if a member has missed a question on the topic, I will step in, quote the question/answer that was missed, and reply to it myself, then say, “I wonder if User1011101 agrees, maybe his answer differs from mine, but personally the above is my opinion anyway”.

Being the community ‘leader’, the member will see that reply and take notice, and then reply to the original poster’s question/answer, keeping the conversation rolling.

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