Building an Online Community in Your Community

I was surprised over the past couple of days after deciding that I’d like to find the Web addresses for as many businesses in my neighborhood as I could. There were more than I expected, though a number of them were pretty hard to locate.

I’ve also been trying to find blogs written by local bloggers, and that has been a challenge, too.

Aaron Weiche of Find Buffalo Blog has a blog which focuses what it’s like to run a Web portal around a local community – in his case Buffalo, Minnesota.

In his latest post, he brings us a Local Search One-on-One: Paul Jahn & Matt McGee. Some very nice ideas and suggestions in the post for people who might be interested in building community for a community.

EarlPearl, who often comments here and is active on a number of forums, sent me a link earlier today from Greg Sterling written back in January, which is worth considering as well: Building the ‘Local Internet’ Brick by Brick.

There is a lot of potential for sites based around communities, and a lot of ideas on how to build those sites. It’s going to be interesting to watch the many different ways that such a portal can make a difference to a place, and how sites for places can get the people in those places involved.

See also, (dead link), which has some interesting posts on “advancing the development of location portals,” as well as John Udell’s post on An experiment in online community.

10 thoughts on “Building an Online Community in Your Community”

  1. Bill–You gave me a great idea. I’ve been wanting to start a movement in my community to get the library to stay open 24 hours a day. A local community website with an online survey about the issue might be the way to get it started. Unless, of course, I find out that no one else is interested.

  2. It might have that ability, Christina.

    One thing that really got me interested in communities for communities was watching a forum on a New Jersey newspaper influence politics in that area a couple of years ago.

  3. Bill- Thanks for the links. Running a community portal is a labor of love for sure but every now and then I get emails from people thanking me for what they found or that they enjoy the site. I know that Matt and Paul provided some great take-aways in the post also for local search and local sites. Local gets down to the roots of things for sure as after are daily world travels, we all still come home. Thanks again.

  4. Thank you, Aaron.

    I enjoyed the post on local that you put together, and Matt and Paul raised some great points. It might be easy to underestimate the value of local portals and community based sites. But there is a lot of value to them.

  5. Your initial comment about having a hard time finding a number of local sites is commentary upon the lack of optimization for local businesses plus the state of organizing that data i.e. G maps, Y and MSN local, web based YP’s etc.

    There is still a long way to go in these regards. I enjoy looking through all these models. There are lots of examples, lots of opportunities, and probably lots of frustration in building community sites, as you have described.


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  7. This is a great topic – we’ve found that “local” in quickly-developing areas (in our case, Loudoun County, VA) is really more “regional”, especially with a very mobile commuter and parenting populace…our site at Dulles South Online is developing quickly, due largely to the fact that online information about the region is actually quite difficult to locate, in aggregate, and in manners separate from the various local rags.

  8. Good points, Ted.

    The next largest city near mine is across a state line, and news of what’s happening there is hard to come by in my town. Yet it shouldn’t be. A website that ignored the geographic boundary would be performing a better service than the local papers.

    I like the look of your site, and the approach that you’re taking.

  9. What a timely post, just when I am about to build a local community of entrepreneurs. Thanks for the links.

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