A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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Ajax for Chat

Learn to build a chat system into your Web application with Asynchronous JavaScript + XML (Ajax) and PHP. Your customers can talk to you and to each other about the content of the site without having to download or install any special instant-messaging software.

Herrington, Jack D. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Ajax


Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters

While anonymity may allow people to feel more free and disinhibited to discuss otherwise embarrassing or stigmatizing topics, it can also be a community's biggest enemy.

Grohol, John M. List Apart, A (2006). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Arrows in Our Quiver

On mailing lists, at conferences, in conversations at cocktail hours, I'm starting to see a growing awareness of how our various disciplines form a community of practice.

Olsen, George. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


The Art of the Signup

There is no single best way to have users sign up for an account online, because there are too many variables to be considered for this aspect of the user experience. Varying factors can include security, purpose of the account, understanding of the user at the time of signup, what information they must have ready and what they will have to do next, among other things. So to point to a cool new site – even a competitor’s – and say “I want a one-field signup process like that!” does not necessarily serve your needs or your user’s. In fact, there is an awesome site I recommend to people that suffers greatly from a confusing signup process because they tried to simplify it too much.

Colvin, Kris. Design for Users (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>User Experience


Best Practices for Designing a Social News Website

In this article I’ll showcase some of the current top social news sites, will identify trends and patterns in their designs and suggest some best practices to follow when designing such sites. Let’s begin by looking at four popular social news sites and see how their designs compare.

Fadeyev, Dmitry. Webdesigner Depot (2009). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Coaching a Community

We’ve all been part of communities since kindergarten, or earlier. Churches, schools, sports teams, and neighborhoods all satisfy basic human desires to interact with others and work toward a common goal. And yet, when these communities are online and we start to think of them as “social sites,” these concepts can suddenly feel foreign. My work in communities (primarily as the editor of community-created magazine JPG) has shown me that different sets of people are usually motivated in similar ways. Most people have an innate need to belong and feel like part of something, and successfully contributing to that something can really reinforce self-worth. Whether you’re at a company such as Yelp working with product reviews, or Threadless working with t-shirts, or in a church group working on an annual recipe book, try some of these methods to nurture great content.

Miner, Laura Brunow. List Apart, A (2009). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Communities, Audiences, and Scale

Communities are different than audiences in fundamental human ways, not merely technological ones. You cannot simply transform an audience into a community with technology, because they assume very different relationships between the sender and receiver of messages.

Shirky, Clay. Shirky.com (2002). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Online


Community Informatics, Local Community and Conflict: Investigating Under-Researched Elements of a Developing Field of Study   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Conflict within local communities is an under-researched theme in Community Informatics (CI). This article therefore aims to contribute to the development of CI as a field of study by analysing forms of internal conflict within Moseley Egroup – a CI initiative developed in Moseley, Birmingham (UK). Ultimately it is argued that conflict is an inherent part of local community and is important to CI for a number of reasons. Conflict impacts on the appropriation and social shaping of internet technology by local communities, and has broader implications on the extent to which CI regenerates localities and empowers citizens. In this sense conflict is identified as a productive force, shaping and reshaping both local community and internet projects mobilized in its name. Conflict also draws attention to the contested and mutable relationship that exists in CI between the online spaces that are created and the localities they are set up to serve. It is concluded that conflict and forms of social struggle within communities should form a central part of the developing CI research agenda.

Goodwin, Ian. Convergence (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Community: From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Any community—online or off—must start slowly, and be nurtured. You cannot “just add community.” It must be cared for, and hosted; it takes time and people with great communication skills to set the tone and tend the conversation.

Oates, George. List Apart, A (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Design for Community: An Interview with Derek M. Powazek

Derek M. Powazek has worked on community features for Netscape, Nike, and Sony, along with creating the community sites, {fray}, Kvetch!, and SF Stories. Christine Perfetti, a consultant at User Interface Engineering, recently talked with Derek about his experience. Here is what he had to say about creating effective online communities.

Perfetti, Christine. User Interface Engineering (2002). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Designing a Different Kind of Intranet: An Intranet for a UX Team

Most of us who are working as part of a design team in a services company, a product company, or even a design boutique have to live with a generic intranet. In this article, I’ll describe how to leverage your company’s intranet and how to build a community around an intranet for a UX team.

Mallik, Anirban Basu. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Intranets


The Dilemma of Comments

Abuse has made me seriously consider – several times – disabling comments. I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand it would make writing and publishing much easier. Write something, proofread it, publish.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Interaction Design


An Exploration of Concepts of Community Through a Case Study of UK University Web Production   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The paper explores the interrelation and differences between the concepts of occupational community, community of practice, online community and social network. It uses as a case study illustration the domain of UK university web site production and specifically a listserv for those involved in it. Different latent occupational communities are explored, and the potential for the listserv to help realize these as an active sense of community is considered. The listserv is not (for most participants) a tight knit community of practice, indeed it fails many criteria for an online community. It is perhaps best conceived as a loose knit network of practice, valued for information, implicit support and for the maintenance of weak ties. Through the analysis the case for using strict definitions of the theoretical concepts is made.

Cox, Andrew M. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Academic


Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages

Many nonprofit early adopters of Facebook set up groups as their organizational hubs because that was the only option. Later, Facebook Pages were introduced and many nonprofits have set these up as their institutional hubs. There has been some discussion in nonprofit forums, blogs, and listservs about the pros and cons of Facebook Pages versus Groups. Below are the notes I've drafted on the topic so far.

Davies, Tim. Tim's Blog (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Handling Negative Feedback on Blogs

Despite blogs’ potential for creating valuable online communities, many communicators are still uneasy with the blog format. Communicators worry about the possibility of readers posting negative comments and feedback on the company blog. Angry customers leaving stories of poor experiences for all to see or employees submitting bitter public complaints are nightmare scenarios for most communicators. So how should we respond to negative feedback on corporate blogs? The process begins with shifting our perspective to see the risks as opportunities.

Drennan, Scott. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Blogging


If You Build It, They'll Come

If you create a community around your Web site, look beyond providing the outer semblances of community: design a site that can potentially work the way each of these very different members of the community wants it to work.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (2000). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Keep Your Web 2.0 Community Happy

Running a web community can be fun and rewarding, but you’re always reliant on the good faith of your members. So what happens when rogue elements threaten to disrupt, even destroy, the foundations of your virtual society? Derek Powazek has some suggestions

Powazek, Derek. Dot Net (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Long-Tail User Experience: How to Cultivate (or Dissolve) a Community

Websites are social creatures. Or rather, their users are. In turn, the websites you visit are tempered by the users that interact with them. Your experience with a website, say facebook.com, is directly linked to the people with which you interact on that website. But this introduces an interesting challenge for a user experience designer: do you design for the intial experience or the resulting experience?

Maier, Andrew. UX Booth (2009). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Moving a Community to the Web: Creating Hyperviews: Online   (PDF)

This panel discusses the issues involved in creating Hyperviews: Online, the web-based newsletter for the STC Online Information Special Interest Group (SIG). The panel explores why Hyperviews, the hardcopy newsletter for the Online Information SIG, was moved to the web and the design decisions the editorial staff made to accomplish the move. The panel also discusses what tools and methods they used, what worked and what didn’t, as well as future directions for Hyperviews. The panel includes the Online Information SIG manager, newsletter editor, and newsletter assistant editor. The panel will also encourage feedback and brainstorming from the Online Information SIG community it serves.

Bledsoe, Bill, Karen Mobley and Scott DeLoach. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Moving Toward Knowledge-Building Communities in Health Information Website Design

In this paper, we describe our work with the Arthritis Source website and our efforts to develop a community of learners in that context. We argue that given proper architectural support, efforts to listen to learners can effectively foster collaboration between the authors of an informational web site and its users and help community building among its users through a dynamic knowledge base.

Turns, Jennifer, Kristina Liu and Tracey S. Wagner. Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (2002). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Moving Toward Knowledge-Building Communities in Informational Web Site Design   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In this article, we describe how a knowledge-building community perspective can lead to a framework for designing an informational Web site. We illustrate the framework through our work on the Arthritis source, an informational Web site helping users acquire information about arthritis. The resulting framework provides one means of addressing challenges that arise in the design and development of such informational Web sites.

Turns, Jennifer, Tracey Wagner and Kristen Shuyler. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Putting Our Hot Heads Together

The web is a conversation, but not always a productive one. Web discussions too often degenerate into whines, jabs, sour grapes, and one-upmanship. How can we transform discussion forums and comment sections from shooting ranges into arenas of collaboration?

Wood, Carolyn. List Apart, A (2008). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Rethinking the Fragmentation of the Cyberpublic: From Consensus to Contestation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recently there has been some debate between deliberative democrats about whether the internet is leading to the fragmentation of communication into `like-minded' groups.This article is concerned with what is held in common by both sides of the debate: a public sphere model that aims for all-inclusive, consensus seeking rational deliberation that eliminates inter-group 'polarizing' politics. It argues that this understanding of deliberative democracy fails to adequately consider the asymmetries of power through which deliberation and consensus are achieved, the inter-subjective basis of meaning, the centrality of respect for difference in democracy, and the democratic role of `like-minded' deliberative groups. The deliberative public sphere must be rethought to account more fully for these four aspects. The article draws on post-Marxist discourse theory and reconceptualizes the public sphere as a space constituted through discursive contestation.Taking this radicalized norm, it considers what research is needed to understand the democratic implications of the formation of 'like-minded' groups online.

Dahlberg, Lincoln. New Media and Society (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Theory


Social Media Is Changing Everything

When Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwarz needs to communicate with the world, he doesn’t necessarily call a press conference, issue a press release, or even convene a webinar or videoconference. He blogs. His online diary gives him an unfiltered channel leading to the employees, customers, analysts and resellers who represent the first wave of perception formation regarding important company products and service initiatives. Sun is leading a transformation of the communication profession, as the Web transitions from an information repository to a platform of collaboration and community building.

Gronstedt, Anders. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking


Social Networking for Business: Measuring the Results

The online world is abuzz with talk about social networking. With companies such as Facebook seemingly constantly in the news, 2007 has been the year that social networking took its first adolescent steps beyond being the sole purview of, well, adolescents, and started to become a tool that is getting noticed in the business world. But with all the hype out there about online social networking, how can organizations begin to better understand the tangible business impact of their forays into this area?

Carfi, Christopher. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Social Networking



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