Good communities are three things.
- Good communities are effective empathy distribution networks, as opposed to efficient value transaction networks. I think the working world and startup sphere have hijacked the word “community” to mean any group of people who exchange some value or information on a regular basis, but that’s the most basic, flimsy kind of community. Members of a good, strong community are bound by their shared belief in and care for each other as humans. Communities like this come together under duress, rather than splinter off. Good communities, therefore distribute empathy, not just transactional value.
- Good communities are worn places; they learn from the members of the community, and collect the stories of the people that came before. A place that learns from its members become worn over time with signs of use. These artifacts later become items of lore, and the stories harbored in these kinds of places invite exploration, like a videogame world or an alternate universe. To join such a community should feel as if you’re entering a new place with stories and lore behind artifacts and customs.
- Good communities are reified belief, not simply brought together by common interests. I’ve discussed this idea further in a blog post about what makes good communities.