Own the Space

We suggest how one might launch and grow an experimental community with the potential to become a valued internet resource.

Know that your subject needs wiki to succeed. If Facebook or Wikipedia would do, start there. Wiki is too slow to be social and too open to be authoritative. If you aspire to be fresh voices in an emerging or disputed space, carry on.

Mark the bounds of your space. Assemble your founders as a pod or study group in some obscure corner of the federation. Probe what would or wouldn't be on topic within your first few years of growth. Draft charters until you find one that sings.

Register your domain. Elect an editor who will own it. Draft section editors for two of possibly ten eventual topic subdomains. Create survey content in each of these based on the best writing from the pod.

Host writer's workshops in all relevant events. Return to your obscure corner and grow a second generation of authors there. Rewrite promising content and then suggest that potential authors improve it more.

Develop a cadence where sections refresh, editors meet, and then highlights are drafted for the main site. Spawn new topic sections when interest merits.

Promote the independence of all authors. Encourage unsupervised regional sections where authors can experiment within a safe community. Add a news section to report on their small successes.

Develop a succession plan for editors. Expect a year or two of selfless giving in these positions, but no more. Ask emeritus editors to try something new with their copious free time. Follow them and report.

Measure your success. Survey for strengths and weaknesses. Refresh aging content. Publish reader's guides and top ten lists. Explore paths to other media channels. Encourage academic study of your own work.

I've outlined a sequence of steps that will allow commitment to grow in proportion to the work. Don't jump ahead. You will know you are working at the right pace if you ask yourselves, why didn't we this part this before?