There’s an adage that says everything is cyclical. There are examples everywhere. Fashion, music and books are returning to the mainstream after a long absence.
The internet is old enough now to witness the return of certain trends. Brutalist A prime example is design. Designers of web sites spent many years creating layouts that became increasingly complex. Many have returned to the basics recently.
I’m wondering if we’ll see the same thing happen with online communities. Years ago, niche sites were built to cater to specific groups. We installed forums. phpBB(Opened our blogs to commentsI tried to claim a small corner in cyberspace.
Social media changed that. Communities started moving onto larger proprietary platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other platforms have become popular places for people to discuss and meet.
The move was a good one at the time. Access to powerful server, globalized networks and providers that took care of moderation (to an extent, at least). Why would anyone want to go back in time?
Recent events have me longing for the good old days. Here’s why I’d like to see a return of niche web communities. With some modern conveniences.
We’re Subject to the Whims of Companies
Everything is great on social media – until it isn’t. Social media companies are able to change their policies (or ahem, ownership() at any moment. And too bad if you don’t like the results. Users have no control.
Twitter has become a poster child for all that can go wrong. The reduction The lack of staff to moderate content means that harmful behavior is not addressed as quickly. Meanwhile, the platform’s user verification policies have been turned on their head.
Facebook also causes headaches. Changes to the algorithm have made it difficult to view posts from groups in your main news feed. Plus, the Groups feature has become more complicated to use. The service is what it says. Thinks I’m curious. It is rarely correct.
Unfortunately, it appears that users are not given much priority. Investors and overzealous millionaires are given top billing. We are all an afterthought.
Users can be put first in a niche web community. The experience may not be completely under the control of stakeholders. It depends a great deal on the platform. But there’s a better chance for stability and sustainability.
Users Don’t Have an Ownership Stake
Let’s say that you’ve decided to leave Twitter. Congratulations! What happens to all your tweets then?
You can’t simply import them to Mastodon You can use a similar service. You’ll have to start from scratch. That’s especially painful if you value any of the content or interactions you had.
But open-source tools like WordPress don’t lock you in. The content that you upload is yours. And the site’s data is portable.
You can easily switch to another host or redesign your site without losing any data. In addition, you’re not reliant on finicky APIs It is possible for the price to go up or down at any time.
What Does a Modern Web-based Community Look Like?
There’s a reason why so many people abandoned the idea of web-based communities. Social media made it easier. The social media did most of the dirty work. All we needed to do was turn up and begin making connections.
Creating and maintaining community-based websites in the 2000s was also not an easy task. The tools we had at our disposal were not cohesive. You might have a site and a forum. But tying them together wasn’t a simple process.
That’s no longer the case. New tools and protocols can solve many of the previous generation’s pain points. With that, here’s how a modern web community could look:
It runs on a single platform
It’s now possible to provide a more unified experience. Nowadays, membership sites have become commonplace. Many plugins Exist that make the setup easy. You don’t need to invest a lot of money or know how to code.
You can also add other features to meet your requirements. The community may be open or by invitation only. Membership can either be monetized, or it can remain free. The tools for content moderation and spam protection have been greatly improved.
WordPress only requires a single login. Users can access their profile and communicate with other users, as well as register for events.
WordPress isn’t the only option, of course. There are many options for community builders. It is the perfect fit for a site of this kind. No need to assemble a bunch of tools that are unrelated.
The Fediverse is a part of this project
What’s the opposite of a corporately-owned platform? A network of decentralized services that are able to communicate with one another.
That’s what the Fediverse It encompasses larger services like Mastodon. Mastodon is one of the larger services that it encompasses. Individual websites can also participate via the ActivityPub protocol.
Install the ActivityPub WordPress pluginYou can publish automatically from your website to services connected. It’s like using Twitter’s API to auto-publish. But you’re not limited to that singular walled garden. You can share your content on social networks and websites. Friends Plugin) or anywhere else which supports the protocol.
Communication is a two-way street. When someone responds to your post via a federated system, that could be a comment posted on your blog.
It is a complicated concept. The result is that groups can curate content more easily. Your community will expand beyond your website. The community can expand beyond your website so that people can interact wherever they are.
It Still Uses (But Doesn’t Rely On) Social Media
Social media is not dead. It’s still an important way to reach people. But it doesn’t have to serve as a community hub, either.
These platforms can also be used for other purposes. drive traffic Your website. By posting content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, you can increase your visibility. It can also help to attract new members.
One positive of this approach is that you’re being self-reliant. You won’t have to depend on social’s APIs or infrastructure. Yes, you’re still beholden to their algorithms. But they’ll have a much smaller impact on your community’s day-to-day operations.
The use of large social networks is more like an addition than a basis. It allows you to benefit from what they are best at.
Web Can Benefit Communities
It used to be hard to build a community on the web. Some groups were unable to reach their full potential due to technical difficulties.
Social media have also given community organizers a new lease of life. The landscape is constantly in flux. This makes it difficult to maintain growth and stability.
A return to the Web makes perfect sense. WordPress has grown exponentially. These tools are more flexible when it comes down to functionality and design.
Is it the wave of tomorrow? We’ll see. But it’s exciting to think about what’s possible. Online communities might find a new home at a familiar location.