21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I've read most of the New Riders series of books, and they vary in usefulness - as you would expect - depending on whether you are the target market. Jeff Zeldman's book was pretty much useless for me - although it was a good read I knew most of the stuff in it. Jeff Veen's stuff was interesting mainly because it pointed to a completely different future approach to writing books of this kind - start with CSS and wander off from there.
Of them all, so far I'm most impressed with Derek's book. Those of us who have spent time on his sites... know how passionate and committed he is to online community building and how he has managed to generate several profoundly cool community-centred sites. He's not a web programmer - and nor is this a book for web programmers - and that just goes to show that the issues that will confront you are not necessary ones of software and content management.
I've been building community sites for a few years too - not as successfully, perhaps - but I know roughly what I'm talking about, and what I can say for certain is that I learned more about some of the less obvious elements of the subject directly from Derek's book.
Things that hadn't occurred to me before included (among many others)
1) That making it harder to post, and burying submit buttons encourages fewer, but better posts.
2) That the colour and feel of a site may determine its attitude, which may in turn be reflected in the kind of posts and community that emerges there.
3) That communities sometimes will and sometimes SHOULD die after a while.
This is not necessarily the book for someone looking to start out on their first community venture - but it is CERTAINLY the kind of book that you should be reading if you've started one already - albeit small and faltering - and you want to understand ways in which you could broaden it, expand it, refine it, make it work TREMENDOUSLY well...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book crops up a lot in recommendations from bloggers, and it's easy to see why. This book is a broad, yet detailed, treatment of how to start, grow, and manage, online communities. A successful online community (such as the thriving javaranch.com) has a real and valuable sense of belonging. This book can help you understand both the 'why' and the 'how'.
Most of the points made in this book are applicable to everything from email lists, through bulletin boards, to blogs, Amazon reviews and beyond. Many are also very thoughtful, such as the discussion of setting "barriers to entry", or the tricky subject of how to gracefully end a community. The book also includes some interviews with people involved in specific online communities. These interviews are not as directly useful as the rest of the book, but are an interesting alternative to the author's style.
If you are at all interested in gathering or supporting a group of real people using online tools, you need this book. It doesn't say much about specific tools or technologies, but it has the ever-elusive quality of "lasting value". I can really imagine myself re-reading and referring to this book in five or even ten years time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2003
Whilst the title specifies design the book goes far beyond this, covering issues spanning a communities lifetime.
Top-level design aspects are covered, with information on usability, seamless integration of content and community features, and techniques for differentiating host contributions from other community members but if you want code detail you'll need to seek out one of the communities referenced. Greatest depth is provided when the book looks at the daily ins and outs of community production - how to host and develop a community, encouraging good contributions, policing and moderation.
Most useful though, are the many community examples, URLs included, of successes and failures, with each chapter ending with an interview from an experienced community figure on the appropriate topic.