I think that most community of practice (CoP) facilitators or moderators will recognise the challenge in getting conversations started within the community. The ratio of “lurkers” to “contributors” is one of the standard indicators that should be measured for any CoP in order to gain a better understanding of the dynamics and health of the CoP. It is unreasonable to expect that everyone will be a contributor, and the fact that members don’t contribute doesn’t mean they are not getting some value from the CoP. However, there’s nothing wrong in encouraging more contributions, and I’ve seen various incentives used to increase contribution rates.
I thought this particular scheme being implemented for the local government CoP platform was particularly inventive, and I’ll be interested to see how successful it is (I have access to the platform-wide metrics). This message was sent out to all registered users of the CoP platform:
Dear CoP member,
It hasn’t been long since communities of practice welcomed its 50,000th member, yet we’ve hardly had time to register such a momentous milestone before that number is actually closer to the 55,000 member mark. And with a pool of over a thousand different communities to choose from, the potential benefits to the local government and wider public sector of those members sharing what they know grows significantly every day.
It’s no surprise to hear that the secret behind the platform’s success is its members – you! Without you, there would be nothing to share, no one to share with, and the variety and vibrancy of many communities wouldn’t be close to the level they are today.
To celebrate reaching this milestone, we want to say thank you by giving something back to all you sharers out there.
So, from February 16, we’re beginning a new campaign, Everyone ‘s a sharer! where the first hundred CoP members each month to make their very first contribution on the platform will receive a small-but-tasty appreciation of our gratitude, with further reward going to each month’s top sharers, as well as to those members who make the highest number of contributions.
We’re also looking into starting a recognition system for those who make a lot of contributions to communities. In the coming months, members who make over 50 contributions will see a bronze heart appear on their profile; 100 contributions will be silver; and 150 gold.
So get involved by contributing as much as you can to your communities, and share your knowledge. Because after all…
Hopefully this post might stimulate some more ideas on how to increase contribution rates from those involved in CoPs. I would add this mantra for CoP facilitators/moderators: “Know who your contributors are….and look after them!”