6 Types of Community Members

Being able to classify your members into different types is a handy way to make sure each is getting what they need. It may also help one see what sort of mix is best for their community. (Note:  Most taxonomies are fraught with complexities, so YMMV)

D Ganley, et al (*) puts forth the following kinds of members: Utility Posters, Team Players, Low Profiles,  Story Tellers,  and Ghosts.

Recognize anyone?

Who are these people? What might a community consist of, and how could we cater to these different types of members? D Ganley, et al go into more details-

Utility Posters author a lot of content but don’t interact much with the community. In the cake bakers group studied, they accounted for 15% of members.

[A CM might do well to have a way for these people to track the number of articles they have created, or a rating/review system to help encourage this. A personal note of thanks might also go a long way, as well as highlighting these content creators.]

Team Players do short, light, and friendly post. They also include the Super Users group who are post the most and whom everyone knows.  In the cake bakers group, they accounted for the most posts on the site, the most replies, and posting the most links. Team Players were 21% and Super Users 1% of members.

D Ganley et al suggest that Super Users might like a quick way to author animated posts.

Low Profiles do a little bit of everything. They accounted for 13% of members.

[Allowing members to be able access tools for all these roles is important]

Story Tellers write up fewer, but longer posts, on narrow topics. They are connected to fewer people. In the case studied, individual story tellers did more replies than their Team Player counter-parts. There just happens to be fewer Story Tellers. They accounted for 4% of members.

D Ganley et al suggest Story Tellers might like a sophisticated archival system.

Ghosts do a few posts, then disappear  from the community. However, in the cake bakers group they accounted for almost a quarter of the threads started. They accounted for 46%of members .

[Keeping registration efforts to a minimum and having a notification system may be a perceived benefit to these people.]

* Categorizing Behavior in Online Communities: A Look into the World of
Cake Bakers
  D Ganley et al 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

About John

Interested in how information intersects daily life, technology, and art. Collaboration specialist, working in social and collaborative media. Biomedical Informaticist, focusing on patient/patient, patient/provider communication.
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