The Characteristics of a Community
Communities work together
A community as a group of individuals who have common interests and work together. They often work towards a goal. On Fandom, that goal is building a community about their shared interests, whether it's about movies, like on the Star Wars wiki; video games, like on the Elder Scrolls wiki; or genealogy, like on Familypedia. Communities work together to build the information, to solve problems that arise, and to create a positive atmosphere for everyone to share their passion on the wiki.
Communities make decisions
Communities should be thought of as the ones ultimately in charge of a wiki. Admins are there to guide and support the community but are not meant to be rulers. This idea is an ideal scenario. It's one that may not be the most practical if you have a very small group of users, but this is the goal you should shoot for. This means that admins do not make the rules on their own and don't make unilateral decisions, but rather they use their tools to carry out the will of the community.
Let's take Star Wars Fandom as an example; one of the central policies there are the article guidelines, which overviews how articles are formatted and put together. This was not a policy created by the admins alone, but one that had input from the community and was voted on by the community before it ever became policy. When a Star Wars Fanon wiki admin enforces that policy, they're not enforcing their own arbitrary ideas about what you should do. They are saying, "this is what the community would like you to do." That's very important, because it brings a form of democracy to the wiki.
Just like in a democracy, when a community votes on decisions rather than decisions being made by an admin, it sets up an important relationship between admins and the community that says the community is the most important decision-maker on the wiki. Admins have lots of extra editing tools that non-admins don’t have, but it puts admins into the position of not being the most important part of a wiki.
Building a community
Building a community isn't easy, but it's incredibly rewarding when it pays off. We've talked about how communities work together and make decisions together, but there's still more to it than that. To work towards the goals of the group, you always need to be willing to compromise. Whether it's a wiki full of fans of a TV show or video game, or those with the same hobby or personal interests, there will be people with very strong and very different opinions. That's great, and it's perfectly normal. Different ideas and perspectives can often come together to make an even better idea, taking more than one opinion into account. Where that breaks down is if you're not prepared to compromise. At that point, it's just people yelling at each other.
That leads to another important point, and something you want to avoid when building a community: drama. Drama can be all kinds of social issues like personal disputes, name calling, arguments, or anything else involving conflict between users. This can happen and sometimes it's unavoidable, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to avoid it. The best way to steer clear of drama is to focus on building the content and reaching the goals of the community. Who said what, who thinks what, who ships which characters, who likes what movie more than another, and any other kinds of debates that can cause conflict should be avoided if the people involved are not respectful of others' opinions. You certainly do not need to say that those conversations can never take place, but making sure your main focus is on building content by writing pages about the subject is the best way to avoid major drama issues.
Ultimately, the big philosophical driver behind a community on Fandom is to be friendly and respectful of others, and especially to assume good faith. What does that mean? To put it simply, assume everyone in a community is working together towards the common good until proven otherwise. The vast majority of people are here to help, not to cause problems. People will make mistakes, especially when they're new, so don't treat potentially great and helpful users like they're troublemakers.
That is what leads to the last point: be open and welcoming to new contributors. People come and go, and the most dedicated contributors can only do so much. Without new users coming in, a community can't survive. Always remember to give them the time they need to learn how wikis work, and to always be welcoming, helpful, and respectful of them.
If you can keep all of this in mind, you will be able to build a great community that can work together towards its common goal.
In order to have a thriving community, you want to make sure people can find your wiki. You will want to identify places where potential contributors could be attracted and then talk about it there. Founders and the early contributors will likely carry a lot of this weight themselves, but only at first. Once more users start to join the community, more people will be able to spread the word and help the wiki grow.
Before you even begin promoting your wiki, you want to make sure there is something to promote. It's not enough to go through the wiki creation process. You need to begin creating the content of the wiki. It's important to get your basic structure sorted out, as well as adding as much content as you can. The more and better content you have, the more attractive your wiki will be to search engines.
Once all of that is done, there are any number of ways to promote your wiki. Just remember that there is no single “best way” to grow a community, so you should choose whatever seems appropriate to your topic and the community you wish to build. Having said that, here are a few ways you might be able to promote your wiki:
- Create an awesome theme for your wiki so potential readers and contributors can see a great looking site when they arrive.
- Set up your wiki's mobile main page with an image and description, to make sure it's set up to show well in search results and other areas around the Fandom network. Go back to that section after you have started adding content, to make sure mobile users can find your most important pages easily.
- Talk about the community on websites that have similar topics, and explain that the wiki can be a common effort for all fans of that topic.
- Be welcoming to visitors and encourage them to become part of the community.
- Encourage the best contributors to contribute even more!
- Once you have 200 pages, you can apply for a Fandom Spotlight to advertise your wiki on similar communities.
- Create a Facebook fan page for your community so readers, contributors, and others can "Like" your page. Be sure to post about your wiki's Facebook page here.
- Create a Twitter page for your community and spread the word to your followers in 140 characters or less! Be sure to post about your wiki's Twitter page here.
- Make a YouTube account for your community so you can upload interesting but relevant videos, and create an appealing channel to invite users to subscribe to.
- Learn how to start a new wiki.
- Learn how to build a successful wiki.
- Learn how to raise your wiki's search ranking.