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July 19, 2013

Interview with Patrick O’Keefe, Author of Managing Online Forums

Is there a difference between building a community versus building an audience? If so, what are they?

They can be the same thing. A community is an audience. Some would grasp tightly to the idea that an audience watches and doesn’t contribute or interact, but that isn’t really true. Performers interact with audiences all the time. With my hosting of Soda Tasting, I’m building an audience, but I’m also building a community. It really can mean the same thing.

That said, if you wanted to draw a firm line, you could say that when you are the primary “performer,” you are building an audience. But if you are cultivating interactions between others, more so than interactions with you specifically, you are closer to building a more traditional community.

All communities, big or small, have that feeling of connection, and being part of something bigger. How do you foster that connection?

It helps to have a focus, to understand why you exist and who you exist to serve. What’s your goal? Who do you want to be? When I started KarateForums.com, we had a simple goal, which was to be a martial arts community that was work friendly (generally family friendly) where respect was very important. That goal has informed everything that we’ve done and 12 years later, the result is a community I am very proud of, where people speak to each other in a way that is incredible to watch and easy to appreciate. read more

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