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Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

Posted October 21, 2011 6:04 AM by SavvyExacta

Blogs and forums may be separate entities - or both components may appear on a single website like CR4. These two components of social sites were loosely defined in the introduction to this blog series. Let's take a closer look at them now.

Blogs

Joel Postman's book SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate addresses online communication strategies that are applicable to maintaining a blogging and forum website. Postman defines a blog as a "highly complex and very popular medium, with many bloggers having widespread influence". This influence may be used to inform, advertise, or gain popularity. A blog might exist on its own (like TechCrunch) or be on a website with a collection of blogs (like those found on CR4 or The New York Times).

Forums

Although bloggers are the conversation starters when they submit written work online, discussion forum users often drive the conversation in this medium. Users can post questions or comments or respond to what others have posted - these form "threads" of conversation. (Note that many blogs also allow comments in response to the original text.) A 2007 Technographics survey published in Groundswell found that a fifth of online Americans read or respond to discussion forums.

Many users establish online friendships and even cliques; according to Groundswell "forums and reviews succeed partly because they let people show off". Technical support websites rely greatly on a question and answer format in which users help one another.

Bringing it All Together

A community is more than a collection of blogs and forums - it is a group of users that interact with one another on a daily, hourly, or up-to-the-minute basis. Postman defines a community as being similar to a blog or forum but as being "designed to accommodate larger numbers of participants in a slightly different manner".

CR4, for example, is organized by topic (Automotive, Mechanical Engineering, General, etc.) and caters to a common interest (engineering, scientific, and technical professionals). Postman also suggests that "community management is usually decentralized, with control and responsibility for upkeep divided among a handful of dedicated, inspired (and often unpaid) members". CR4's moderators are paid; however, they are GlobalSpec employees who must also complete their regular work at the same time.

Editor's Note: This is the second in a multi-part series about social sites. You may want to go back and read the Introduction if you missed it. The next part will cover moderation as a function of social sites.

References:

Li, Charlene, and Josh Bernoff. Groundswell. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2008. Print.

Postman, Joel. SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate. Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2009. Print.

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#1

Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/21/2011 6:42 AM

No cliques or showoffs here...........................we're above that.

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Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/21/2011 8:16 AM

When do I get a Shiney?

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Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/21/2011 2:43 PM

Congrats kramrat! You have the coveted post #1!

A recent thread here at CR4 got me thinking (unusual I know), and I pursued some definitions of what a blog really is. One of the interesting things I found was this from Wikipedia:

Although not a must, but most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

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Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/21/2011 7:47 PM

Thanks for my Shiny award Doorman!!! I'm really feeling special!!!!

On a serious note, since this is a blog that doesn't seem to be garnering much attention......................it would be interesting to have a discussion about the sociological implications of the wired world.

I mean, kids text more than talk.

Little sponge brains feel a personal connection to idiot actors and music stars because they receive tweets every 15 minutes.

On a personal level, CR4 is the only place I spend any time, but I've made connections with people I'll never meet in person.

Is all of this healthy?

Are we weaning ourselves off from face to face contact?

Most of us are older, but what about the kids? Is the digitization of their lives a good thing?

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#5
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Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/21/2011 8:31 PM

I think online relationships are partially healthy and partially not healthy. Healthy because the online environment allows collaboration with people you might otherwise not meet. Not healthy, because at the same time, you close yourself off to a limited group. (You might say the Internet is unlimited; it's not. Even CR4 is limited to the interests of a certain subset of people. And some people aren't online at all.)

As far as forms of communication, we've already seen (at least I have seen) how basic fundamentals like spelling, sentence structure, and grammar are falling by the wayside on this forum alone. Some think that's just the way culture is shifting - that those things won't matter any more.

I think there's a time when each form of communication (texting vs. emailing vs. calling vs. in person) is appropriate. But also consider the fact that people prefer to receive information differently. My husband is a visual learner; he needs to be shown something to understand. I like to write things down. My mother's a speed-reader that can synthesize a page in seconds. A co-worker prefers documentation for all procedures so she can go through step-by-step at her own pace. I think that the online format can provide a way for almost everyone to digest information according to preference.

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Re: Forums, Blogs, and Community Sites – What Are They?

10/22/2011 3:39 PM

As far as forms of communication, we've already seen (at least I have seen) how basic fundamentals like spelling, sentence structure, and grammar are falling by the wayside on this forum alone. Some think that's just the way culture is shifting - that those things won't matter any more.

CR4 is the only forum that I spend any time on, and it's been the opposite for me. As long as I'm here anyway, I put effort into sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, my typing has improved, and just working on the ability to put thoughts into written form here has been helpful.

The internet itself is awesome. It's like having a massive library at my fingertips. It's especially helpful on my home projects.

As far as the sense of community, and friendships that I've developed on here.........................it's a little odd. It's something that never would have existed without the internet, and yet it feels completely normal.

As far as the kids go................I don't know. The digital domain has provided bullies with a new medium through which to torment people. It's terrible when these little girls suicide themselves due to online garbage. I think when kids are young, face to face interaction is important in their development. We'll see what becomes of the texting generation.

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