I am fascinated by how communities form. I fell into community building over 15 years ago when I had a comment thread on my website go crazy. Many people started commenting and replying to others and before I knew there were hundreds of comments. I installed forum and wiki software on my server and the conversation continued and more people joined in. A community formed – it grew, moderators took over, and people slowly left as interest in the topic waned.
I recommend the book Building Successful Online Communities. Communities are complex, but they lead to interesting discussions and discoveries.
Online communities are among the most popular destinations on the Internet, but not all online communities are equally successful. For every flourishing Facebook, there is a moribund Friendster — not to mention the scores of smaller social networking sites that never attracted enough members to be viable. This book offers lessons from theory and empirical research in the social sciences that can help improve the design of online communities.