Rob Cottingham's blog

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ChangeEverything.ca: Setting the stage for participation

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Helping users to help users

Grow your community by making it easy for newcomers to ask questions... and answer them

There's a superb post by Kathy Sierra at the Creating Passionate Users blog about user-submitted questions and answers, which are at the heart of many online communities – especially the ones built around forums.

Here's how questions and answers typically work on those sites:

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Credit unions and online community

There's a great article by Kevin Hogan in the latest issue of Credit Union Management, all about how credit unions are using online communities like blogs to engage members and the public. It's required reading for folks in that industry, but it's also a great general-purpose organizational blogging primer.

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Does your organization have a Wikipedia entry? Start monitoring it now.

If your organization is listed in Wikipedia, the community-edited online encyclopedia, congratulations. Quite apart from the virtues of collaborative editing, Wikipedia entries often rank at or near the top of Google search results.

Now break open your RSS aggregator. You're going to want to add a new subscription immediately... because nearly anybody could be editing your entry.

Here's what you do: navigate to your Wikipedia page. (Here's a shot from the entry about Wikipedia itself.)

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Viva virtual Las Vegas: taking in Community 2.0 without attending

If you're like Alex, you're already in Las Vegas at the Community 2.0 conference, and good on you. The rest of us aren't bitter about your hot, sunny days and your swimming pools and your rubbing elbows with fellow leaders in the social web. Not in the least.

Why? Because if we can't go to Community 2.0, Community 2.0 will go to us. Here's how they're expanding participation beyond the conference rooms, hallways and luxurious spa treatments rigorous breakout sessions:

Updates are in italics.
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StumbleUpon: think Digg, but with staying power

Last month, writing about our Web 2.0 valentine, I mentioned one of the surprises to come out of our little meme:

We've been involved in memes that went viral, but never one of our very own. And interestingly, the number one name in meme propagation, Digg, had very little to do with it; a vastly more significant chunk of traffic came via StumbleUpon. Which suggests to me that, just as you can't reliably predict whether something will catch fire, you never know where it will happen, either.

We aren't the only ones to notice this underappreciated web tool. Darren Barefoot at Capulet has a terrific, well-documented report on how StumbleUpon compared to Digg with two memes of his, iCryptex and First Life.

And he has charts and graphs to back him up, the most dramatic of which shows traffic to iCryptex.com after six months:

Graph showing StumbleUpon outstripping all others

StumbleUpon tends to start small – which was our experience as well – but it is, as Darren says, "the gift that keeps on giving." It's still going strong on our site, too.

He sounds a cautionary note about reading too much into those numbers, though:

Earlier I called StumbleUpon visitors 'infovores'. That's true--they're definitely greater consumers of online information than the average person.

In shopping terms, the StumbleUpon user is browsing while the Digg user is buying. The very name and nature of StumbleUpon suggests a more casual, serendipitous relationship with the Web than the average voracious (and sometimes downright snippy) Digg user. There's no way to compare the broader (and no doubt greater) echo effect of Digg with that of StumbleUpon.

That's happened at our end, too. StumbleUpon users have tended to hit the one page and then move on to another site – suggesting an approach of browsing StumbleUpon rather than the sites it links to. Digg users (who are, in fairness, more technologically focused) linger and poke around.

If you're interested in the tools that drive web traffic, Darren's post is a must-read. One last excerpt, and then you really ought to check it out for yourself:

At Gnomedex last summer, people kept referring to 800-pound gorillas like Delicious and Digg. At the time I pointed out that instead of one big gorilla, maybe we needed 100 eight-pound orangutans. I failed zoology, because orangutans can weigh up to 175 lb. Based on the anecdotal evidence, though, it looks like StumbleUpon has been eating its fill of bananas. While Digg gets most of the attention these days, it's easy to forget that there are other primates in the jungle.

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Got a cool non-profit tech project? NetSquared wants to fund it

This year's NetSquared conference is shaping up to top last year's inaugural confab of non-profit leaders, tech types and funders. And high on the agenda is the new Technology Innovation Fund.

At least $100,000 is on the table. The process for awarding it has begun on the NetSquared site itself, where community members will nominate projects and vote for their favourites:

Nominations will be accepted from March 1 - 31, 2007. Voting will be held April 2 - 7, 2007. The top 20 vote getters will receive an all-expense paid invitation to NetSquared Conference for two project representatives.

They're looking for projects that:

  • Use the power of community and social networks to create change
  • Use existing, or newly developed technology tools for social impact
  • Have a plausible financial model
  • Have a clear way to measure success
  • Exhibit extraordinary leadership, passion and resourcefulness
  • Exhibit a passion of social change

The 20 projects selected for presentation at NetSquared (or "N2Y2", as the folks at Compumentor have dubbed it) will be announced on April 16. Conference participants will hear the presentations, then decide who gets how much funding. And cash isn't all that's up for grabs; Yahoo! is making technological resources available, and other assistance is expected.

Learn more here... and once you have your project teed up, apply (or nominate someone else) here.

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Vancity CEO Dave Mowat is blogging

Add Vancity honcho Dave Mowat's name to the growing list of CEOs who are blogging. And if you head to his blog, you'll notice two things.

One, it's not on the Vancity site. Instead, it's on ChangeEverything.ca, where he's helping to contribute to the conversations there.

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Lijit: a social web search widget

I've just installed a nifty new widget on my personal blog. Called the Lijit, it uses Google to allow users to search my blog. Not a huge deal, you say? True enough.

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Northern Voice: No politician is safe when cameras are everywhere

How citizen journalism powered by social media reframes politics, politicians, and the people involved

I just stepped out of a superb presentation by Eddie Codel titled Using Internet Video to Change the World One Eyeball at a Time. A few of the phenomena he raised:

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.

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