Flickr’s George Oates wrote an amazing article about the lessons the Flickr team has learned over the years. This is, quite literally, a must read for anyone dealing with online community.
George introduces the article:
People don’t like being told what to do. We like to explore, change things around, and make a place our own. Hefty design challenges await the makers of websites where people feel free to engage; both with the system itself and with each other. Embrace the idea that people will warp and stretch your site in ways you can’t predict—they’ll surprise you with their creativity and make something wonderful with what you provide.
At Flickr, we’ve worked very hard to remain neutral while our members jostle and collide and talk and whisper to each other. Sharing photos is practically a side-effect. Our members have thrilled and challenged us—not just with their beautiful photography, but by showing us how to use our infrastructure in ways we could have never imagined.
It’s only in hindsight and with analysis that the strategies I share in this article have emerged.
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go. Read. This. Article!