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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) February 15, 2001

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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. TWO NEW CONTESTS: Submit & Win NetObjects Fusion 5!, Signup & Win! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Creating Community 3. NET NEWS: * Java Jockey Going to Space * You, Too, Can Write an Anna Worm * China Internet trial halted in 1st day after defendant falls ill

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. TWO GREAT CONTESTS: Submit & Win NetObjects Fusion 5!, Signup & Win

>Submit & Win NetObjects Fusion 5!

Submit your article today and you could win NetObjects Fusion 5! If your article makes the cut, and we publish it on the site or in this newsletter, you win! Travis Meeks wins NetObjects this week for his article on creating community. See the submission page for details:

http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html

>Signup & Win!

Sign up for the WebReference Update newsletter, and you could win a killer software bundle from Ulead Systems, PhotoImpact and COOL 3D. Each week we'll draw new winners from our new subscribers - you could be next. Already a subscriber? Not a problem - just fill out the form, and you'll be automatically entered to win. Tell your friends!

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Creating Community

"Man seeketh in society, comfort, use, and protection." Sir Francis Bacon, English Philosopher

There is a vital and growing idea that should be at the core of every Web site success and in a sense may very well already be there if one examines key aspects of that success. One of the core values to success is community. Creating community online is often given too little support when looking at Web site success. While the power of our technology has certainly rendered new techniques and dazzling displays for driving customers to our Web sites it has many times outstripped the important concept of creating online communities around our successful Web sites. Creating these communities is far more than just another tactic in the continuing struggle to draw hits on the Web site counter, it is a creative process, an interactive process that allows for a greater whole out of the individual parts. It is synergy in action.

In the broader sense of the word Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines synergism as "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)." The key words in this definition stand out, mutually advantageous, compatibility, as well as the different elements being or providing resources for each other. Guiding your Web site into partnerships with the public who visit the site and guiding the public toward the opportunity of synergy "working together" is a powerful force.

Forging the bonds of community is vital for any ongoing Web concern. People want a sense of community; they want to find comfort in their Web site chat rooms, and support groups, and email forums. They want a sense of security and to "find use" in what you have to offer, as Sir Francis Bacon so eloquently puts it at the beginning of this article. If we look towards the classic sociological definition of people in an area who have interrelationships that satisfy many of their needs, then indeed we have found the master blueprint for building our online communities. Creating that area, that Web site, that chat room, and so much more is creating a place for community to grow; a community that will support your business and interests and provide far more activism if properly cultivated than any gimmick or flashy trick.

Creating community online is a many faceted project extending into a variety of different areas. Four major areas have a tremendous impact in creating your online community with the Web site at the hub:

1. Creating an online newsletter

2. Creating your own email forums/discussion groups

3. Networking articles from your newsletter or writing articles in general that network your material, viewpoint, ideas, or promote your community to other organizations

4. Develop chat rooms in conjunction with email forums

One of the first areas you can examine what would work well with the already established Web site is the concept of an online newsletter. Indeed some of the material you have posted on different pages of your Web site can be used as a foundation for articles. Creating an online newsletter has become more popular and there are a variety of sites that provide different ways of creating mailing lists and space for you newsletter ( Example: http://www.egroups.com ). The newsletter then becomes the active voice of your Web site, and indeed can be expressed by many different independent authors who will also help promote your idea, product or Web site community through their articles. Indeed many of them might later act as chat facilitators, or moderators for email groups on key subjects.

Each section of the community can compliment and be supportive of the other sections and this interconnectedness of course expands the boundaries of your cyber community. Depending on how ambitious you are with your newsletter, it is easy to get reader feedback and post testimonials, or polls from your readership on a variety of topics of interest, giving people a sense of belonging, a sense of investment in your Web site, and in their community. Dr. Ben Dean Ph.D., author of the article "Eleven Low Risk Steps Toward Your Own Email Newsletter" discusses in detail some of the strategies one might want to adopt when pursuing the idea of establishing a newsletter. He recommends such strategies as:

* Subscribe to five or ten free email newsletters * Check out your competition in your email newsletter niche * Choose potential titles (Succinct, Self Explanatory) * Choose potential taglines (key words associated with product, company etc.) * Decide on Frequency of Newsletter * Understand the relative value of a Web site (subscribers for a newsletter vs. one time - visitors to the Web site) * Start a File for Potential Newsletter Topics...

This article addresses the other key steps for starting your own online newsletter and looks in detail at each step. The ones listed above are given as an illustration of some of the key points that can be found at http://www.mentorcoach.com/subs and special thanks is extended to Dr. Dean for a quick summary of a few of those key concepts.

While newsletters have their own powerful appeal and presence in forming a community, interactive email forums help keep that community alive, interactive and growing. The online newsletter also provides material for ongoing discussion and many of the topics discussed through an email forum are suitable and most appropriate for a newsletter and for developing online chat groups. Email forums allow for not only a strengthening in the ties of community, but also are a great test zone for new ideas, and for looking at potential newsletter writers or quotable opinions. Those who participate in online email groups develop an identification with that group and from that develop a different sense of identity.

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Social psychology looks at the idea of self and in many cases we are in our minds what groups we identify with. We are American or Australian, members of such and such a club. From that standpoint establishing community through email groups and chat rooms, as well as newsletters subscriptions also identifies who individuals are to themselves. The classic foot in the door sales tactic ties in to these concepts. Author David G. Myers of the textbook "Social Psychology" gives an excellent example:

"Patricia Pliner and her collaborators (1974) found 46 percent of Toronto suburbanites willing to give to the Cancer Society when approached directly. Others, asked a day ahead to wear a lapel pin publicizing the drive which all agreed to do, were nearly twice as likely to donate."

When people identify themselves with an organization this can lead to donations and to product loyalty in many cases. It leads to a sense of identification with a particular Web site when that Web site is part of a thriving active community. It becomes a part of their identity in many different ways.

Networking is a part of each section of creating your community. However, providing exposure for your community through well written articles and columns in other newsletters, on Web sites and in partnership with other groups is another important way of providing linkage and bringing more people to your enterprise. It is possible to write full length Epinions and have your product or service reviewed at http://www.Epinions.com or to write full length papers or articles with HTML and all the flashy banners you would like at http://www.themestream.com, and this would include the idea of a regular column. You could encourage the regular writers for your newsletter to write weekly columns on themestream and thereby keep up a regular readership that is more diverse than even the newsletter. The columns and articles can circulate back and forth between the newsletter and themestream and may be accepted by many other Web sites as non fiction or articles of interest depending on the product or service. Well written articles will draw attention to Web sites and chat rooms and email forums because of the exposure that is granted.

One very practical reason for me to write this article. The concept of building community is important, but of great importance to me personally is the chance for everyone to view my Web site at http://pages.prodigy.net/docfox for online counseling or go to http://www.themestream.com and put in my authors 3 name in the search engine to find a number of articles on a variety of topics ranging from the Sex Habits of Americans, to Online Counseling, Angels, Soulful Writing, Positively Healing the Whole Person and many others. This article gives me the chance to have tremendous exposure and the opportunity to develop better partnerships. My Web site may be plain by some standards and I could use partners in many areas, and an article such as this one may bring me a number of people willing to help me with links, webmastering and much more. In return I will write articles, help with newsletters and do anything that I can do to help them. Excellent partnerships are quickly formed when you can network good articles.

Last but certainly not least let us look at the idea of chat rooms. These can be one of the most active driving sources of community. Chat rooms allow for quicker communication between interested people who can then be recruited as article writers, advertisers, pollsters, and moderators for smaller subgroups in chat room discussions. They can host events around various topics or areas in the field that are linked to your product or service, they can help expand from there into regular bulletin boards, and actually become a part of working committees of writers and newsletter editors and advocates for the newsletter.

Scheduled events, popular chat hosts and much more are very important for maintaining a living, thriving community that is growing to provide a variety of needs and services to other members of the community. It also gives those members a stake in community itself. Chat hosts of particular areas in Prodigy were given free accounts and other benefits to promote the chat rooms and host events. Theme stream provides pennies for every viewing of an article as does Epinions, while others provide various forms of incentive. The trend is being set as these communities and sub communities are exploding across the cyber universe in geometric progression, spinning off links and smaller colonies. Chat rooms can be hosted from a variety of places, there are Clubs at http://www.yahoo.com and there are also similar types of clubs or organizations with chat rooms at www.excite.com as well as http://www.altavista.com and a variety of others. Egroups of course has not only the email forums, but also the chat rooms and the newsletter options set up so are sometimes a one stop shopping experience. Chat rooms and email groups are complimentary associations as it is easy to associate the two together for events and coordination of events. This of course ties in with the newsletter as well. There are a whole world of ideas out there such as award and recognition programs and recruiting programs that can make the communities much more functional with a sense of warmth and true regard.

Community in the final analysis is more than the members of that group. It also has to do with our products and services, because part of the definition of culture is what is created by any society, the material and nonmaterial products. Interestingly enough by creating communities online we are contributing something far greater, we are contributing ideas that are the nonmaterial product of a cyber culture. When we create a newsletter, sponsor an email forum, form a chat group, write articles and columns for other Web sites and groups, we are adding to an ever growing network that constitutes a growing culture. Be successful and contribute more to the entire system, using your creativity to help develop a community. A whole community, one that is not just solely based on profits or tricks and traps, and gimmicks, but one that is firmly entrenched in the interests of the people. Author Dale Carnegie in his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" provides us with timeless advice when he encourages us to take a "sincere" interest in what people want, their hobbies, and what really interests them. In this sincerity you can find not only success but also a sense that you have created something that goes beyond your original hopes and captures the essence of many of your original dreams. Creating community is a growing and living idea that serves people. Be successful in your business, providing your service, in promoting your Web site, but do not lose site of the idea that community has its own lasting rewards.

About the Author: Dr. Travis Meeks is a substance abuse counselor, pastoral counselor and online counselor, as well as former Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Sociology, and Social Psychology. Dr. Meeks is currently a writer for theme stream and moderator for an online counseling group and newsletter.

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**********************************************************adv.**** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Java Jockey Going to Space, You, Too, Can Write an Anna Worm, China Internet trial halted in 1st day after defendant falls ill

>Java Jockey Going to Space

Find out how to win a ride in a Russian MiG by winning a Java programming contest. http://www.wirednews.com/news/business/0,1367,41791,00.html 010214

>You, Too, Can Write an Anna Worm

Now, we're talking about a whole new can of worms. Creating a worm can be as easy as one, two, three. http://wired.lycos.com/news/technology/0,1282,41817,00.html 010215

>China Internet trial halted in 1st day after defendant falls ill

The first webmaster in the world is on trial in China for "trying to overthrow the government." What will happen next? http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/front/docs/china021401.htm 010214

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Alexander Rylance Assistant Editor, WebReference.com arylance@internet.com

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