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Nudging participation along at

User-based sites like Vancity's thrive on participation. And there's a lively community creating changes and blogging about them... which is a tribute to the community, to the site's compelling concept and to the work of community animator Kate Dugas.

Now Vancity wants to take participation to the next level.

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Love your leaks

Helping your community do what they want to online - even outside your website

How do you create a site that keeps people on your pages? By creating a site that's easy to leave.

Traditional web design often focused on keeping people on a site by reducing the number of exit points: with few or no external links, the logic goes, people will stay longer.

It doesn't work that way. The Internet is designed for hyperlinks, lateral exploration, serendipitous discovery. When you cut off exit routes, you're cutting off your site's circulation, and you're creating a stagnant site.

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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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For every regular contributor, nine occasionals and ninety-nine lurkers

Online participation

Working with everything from political groups to online discussion boards, I've heard the same lament: "We have so many members. Why do we have so few people participating?"

Hard though it is to admit, for the vast majority of members, that organization or web site that occupies the dead centre of our universe lies at the outer fringes of theirs. Whether because of interest, attention or life's many other demands, they'll only partake of a little of the array of functions and content we've set out before them.

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