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Creation-focused Community

Ravelry, Flickr, DeviantArt and LiveJournal are vibrant communities focused on creative activity, with massive crowd-sourced content. What makes them tick? What are the required features for this kind of community?

Lisa Dusseault

on 5 August 2015

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Transcript of Creation-focused Community


Organizes Itself
Moderates Itself
Grows itself
Meets Itself
Viral growth engines
Supports Itself
Open-ended, community-run
Surprises You
Builds Itself
Users want to show off,
share or give back
Members organize, tag, collect
Especially writing, art, craft and performance
By not limiting content too much, Flickr lets users extend boundaries
Users you didn't expect to have
Support Professionals
Ravelry sells patterns
DeviantArt sells posters, calendars, art prints, digital art
Flickr licensing, "20 under 20"
Teachers advertise classes
Apps, tools, materials and instruments for sale
Mundane self-expression
"What's in my bag": 24,000 members
Flickr is not just digital photos
Sketches, paintings
Digital art
Snapshots of VR
Diagrams, plans
Plug into Facebook, feeds
Viral spread
Flickr: 32 million (2010)
DeviantArt: 14 million (2011)
LiveJournal: 10 million (2010)
Ravelry: 5 million ...
LiveJournal "The First Decade"
... a book!
Support forums where users
answer users about the site
Encourage Productivity
Common products
Knitting patterns on Ravelry
Cameras on Flickr
Avatars on Second Life
Flickr doesn't allow sales pictures
drives users to Etsy.com, Society6 and shutterstock
But is user to user $$ big enough to care?
Ask Stubhub/EBay
Yahoo advertising, http://advertising.yahoo.com/article/flickr.html
Help each other with tough topics
LiveJournal 2010 Happiness Challenge
Monthly themes
Personal challenges
Flickr inspires film photography
1,400,000 users in "I Shoot Film"
One creation inspires...
Creative Commons licensing
... " noticed that C. has been MIA and have sent her a PM recently"
... "I’ve got her phone number, I’ll text her."
Also featuring:
Members create groups
Members volunteer to be moderators
Members approve moderators
Select groups to join
Conversation is open-ended
Easy responses, back-and-forths
Few dead-ends like "comments on article"
Off-topic, personal digressions are common
Let me scan
for activity
or start
Members are motivated to find like souls
especially niche groups like Ratties (LJ)
Members are motivated to share creations
On Second Life, groups gathered enough mentors to build and staff welcome areas 24/7
Users mentor new users
as seen on SL, Flickr, Ravelry, deviantArt...
a very tough topic for the company to deal with
Teach each other

Prestige? Influence? Personal growth?
698 tutorial groups on deviantArt
73 million hits for 'tutorial' on Youtube
Popular theme on Pinterest
365 days project
Look out for each other
Swaps and gift exchanges
Users issue Challenges
deviantArt "Original Character October"
Inspires itself
Organize Groups
Organize content: Curation
Tagging, Categories, Docs
Contribute back
Crowd-sourced moderation
Tagging comments as spam
Flagging posts for moderation
Everybody gets involved
Owners of Flickr photos can delete comments
Community splits
Group splits are ultimately positive
Or forks in GitHub
Diversity, choice
Give tools to support
Mods are per-group
Allow different netiquette per group
Local Meetups
Related Events
At related events like sheep and wool festivals
The guy who
coded almost
all of
Worldwide Knit in Public Day
Get together for Causes
Extends the Service
Major Contributions
Follow up
Privacy, permissions
User content attracts new users via search hits
"Bead Tutorial" top Google hits:
"Bead Tutorial community on LiveJournal
Seed bead tutorial board on Pinterest
...and make money off pros
Ravelry: ads and direct digital pattern sales

Flickr: pro accounts

DeviantArt: percentage from print sales
and commissions
Support mashup creativity
Support collaboration
Second Life Viewers
A dozen major software apps
Support building, dress-up role-play and machinima better than Linden Lab's client
In which a whole lot of users work very hard for the joy of it
4 machinima actors in this scene plus costuming, scenery, and photographer
Presentation for Outsiders
Flickr Slideshow
Some people need a safe place to create
Varying levels of sharing, identity
ALL sites use pseudonymity
Users can't write their own "free to use" licenses so provide that
Site content license must not prevent sharing
Why? Fame? Fun? Lolz?
Communities that can't exist
in Real(TM) Life
Even though Second Life avatar
design was not intended for this
... and budding professionals
Artists make resources for other artists
Support Web Search
Expose tags, comments, categories, gallery names to SEs
Stable URLs
New art forms
They will bring the site's content if conditions are right
Remember each other
Live Chat
Doesn't seem to be a vital
component of most sites.
It might be more
lively if I could
see at a glance
which of my
groups had chats
on now.
User has a
logo too...
Choose my groups, browse or search all
Forums and Groups Requirements
Content Features
Personalization requirements
Other Features
Google Reader showing Ravelry friend feed
Deviant Art collaboration queue
Costumed dancers on Second Life
How does a creative community behave?
Community-picked Moderators
Allows diversity within forums
Uniquely motivated
User trust
What features support this?
Sells to Itself
Sell to the world
Long tail is long
Where better for niche groups to find each other?

"Ratties" group (LJ)
rat cage accessories
Spinners Marketplace (Rav)
vintage Russian supported lace spindles
Second Life Community Convention
... user-organized
Distributed Events
Leave room to adapt, listen to users
Surprisingly Civil
on Flickr
on deviantArt
on Github
Viral growth results
...users make the site sticky
Soundcloud? Myspace?
Special challenges browsing sound
Sewing combined with dressing?
General craftiness?
Popularity of how-tos
The production side of Etsy
Popular fragment on YouTube
Role-playing games are creative
But communities are fragmented
Rift players separate from WoW
Communities are over-controlled
does serve this market
Game makers
Where do the programmers, writers and artists
who make games get to meet?
Programming communities are separate from design and story
Communities fragmented by programming language or game engine
Where can I share trail maps or instructor recommendations, personal goals and successess, as well as gear tips?
Costume, set, acting and directing forums
Individual cooking blogs show that talking about cooking is popular
Community too fragmented?
No work put into reputation, interestingness
Users are passionately loyal
When I visited the Innsmouth region (a depiction of the fictional New England city from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth novella), I got the distinct impression that this was merely a work of love. Yes, there is a store somewhere in the middle of the region, but I’d be hard pressed to believe they make enough money to pay for the sim lease.

And this is something very notable and unique about SL: sometimes, things get built just because people like to build.
Gweneth Llewellyn's blog, http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2012/01/05/2012-not-so-dark/
How and why do creative communities build their own content collection?
How do their members take over the growth of the community itself?

...without spending
.01$ on promotion
Ravelry "Ravelympics"
* 20,000 projects, summer 2012
Users demand TShirts etc
Virtual Currencies
plus 'llamas' for gifting between users
Second Life
GDP: 567 million US$ (2009)
Linden Lab acquired XStreetSL startup
Second Life, Pinterest, Github
2010: Flickr & Getty Images
DeviantArt prints
and digital stock
Clusters, Tags
Popularity and Novelty Showcased
dA Popular/24hr
Rav "Hot right now"
Flickr "interestingness"
LiveJournal Today
Rich Search
Make content appealing and relevant in results
GitHub comment on file, repo, commit
LiveJournal comment on
journal entry
Ravelry comment on pattern,
project, yarn type, yarn stash!
Flickr Albums
Groups have Personality
deviantArt: groups have logos,
descriptions, galleries, affiliates,
reminders, features, contributors,
members, discussions...
plus a toolbox of home page widgets
Ravelry: groups have logos,
help/documentation pages,
discussions, topics, faves,
shared projects, live chat room
"I'd fork his repo" is a compliment
Github repo
Ravelry projects: rich semantic tags and categories
Flickr people and tagging
What is the pattern?
Ravelry is a place for knitters, etc to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration
deviantArt is the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts
is an online journal service with an emphasis on user interaction
Flickr wants to help people make their photos available... and enable new ways of organizing them
This is the tip of the iceberg! They are so much more.
Site employees
Everybody else
Anatomy of Ravelry Group Dashboard
Shared Projects
Members can find interesting projects and join
Gain access to resources
Become member of sub-community
Variations on this theme
Github: fork a code-base or push to it
LiveJournal: Join a publishing community and become one of its writers
Must haves: Friends, personal messages
Reputation is emergent
# projects posted
# forum posts made
# followers
# favourites
# followed
Pro or no
# followers/person
# views, faves / image
Reputation may also be contextual: how many posts
in this group
2014: Flickr Marketplace
DeviantArt Collections
now 9 sections in "Explore"
Reputation is NOT measured by one number (Slashdot, Yahoo Answers)
Sports Fans?
...it is creative (Fantasy gaming)...
NFL doesn't really do community
ESPN fans: 0 hits
ESPN community: 0 hits
Us to "them" attitude
"Watch games"
Not enough user content, or too limited
Reputation is cheap to create and lose

Moderation by site owners
Not enough privacy controls
It's a lot of work. A sensible choice is to avoid open community rather than go halfway.
My first Creative Community?
...going to GenCon 1993 with people I'd never met
Isolated Islands
Yahoo has many MANY individual communities, from neighbourhood associations to knitting groups.
Why this is bad: none of them is connected. None of
them feed into each other. Overall reputation is not relevant. No combining theme. Too much privacy for each group.
No Open Space | Too structured
E.g. 2. thepostgame.com: has comments on articles.
Why it's bad: dead ends for conversation that could otherwise turn into community
Other Patterns
Reputation-based communities
These communities have quantified reputation.
E.g. 3. Goodreads.com only has reviews on books, no open topics. There are groups but invite-only.
Reliance on email
Goodreads Groups -- subscribe by email
Yahoo Groups email only
Why it's bad: reduces willingness of people to post and have a conversation. Instead it'
E.g. 1. Fixed number of forums or topics
Full transcript