Classifying a Community

Photo by Eric Ziegler
Defining categories of communities can be done in many many different ways: e.g. by size (small, medium, large, humongous), types of people in the community (internal employees vs. external clients vs both), etc.

There are so many different types of communities that to be honest, it can scare away even the hardiest of requester for a new community. Last week I talked about the first step that must happen with requesting community managers, setting expectations. Inside that post, I mentioned that some well intended requests come without knowing much about what a community could do for them. So to help them understand what is available, I have often used the following examples to help the types of communities they could build
  1. Pushy Community - Not much of a community, but still there is the need for them in enterprises (hopefully rarely). Success is defined as people reading the information) 
  2. Interactive Pushy Community - This is the first real level of a community, where the push of information is accompanied with the ability to like, rate, and comment with the posts. The community can't post new messages, but they can interact with what is posted, allowing them to engage with the content and the content creators. Success is defined as people read the information and interact and engage with the content. 
  3. Interactive Community - The community is built so that the community members interact with each other, collaborating on documents, asking questions, getting answers, and sharing information with each other. Sometimes email is used to get the community re-engaged or to get the word out on the most important of information. The success of the community is defined by people almost fully interacting and engaging in the community and occasionally relying on tools outside the community to interact with each other. 
  4. Collaborative Community - The community is built so that the community members interact solely using the collaborative tools available, collaborating interacting, engaging with each other within the community. Success for this community is when the community members use the tools available to exclusively collaborate with each other and do not use external tools to collaborate. (e.g. no email).
  5. Inter Collaborative Community - The community is built much the same way as the collaborative community, but instead of just collaborating within the community, the community members collaborate inside the community and with other communities and groups. This community knows they are successful when each of the community members are always using collaborative tools in their day to day interactions. 
You can classify communities how ever you would like. In the above examples, I have laid out some examples of types of communities and how the communities would work, with the hope that when I describe these to an unknowing new community manager, they can pick a type and drive their community to success. 

How would you classify communities to a new community manager?  Would you use the same descriptions or would you describe them differently?  If you used the above example, would you add or subtract from the list?  For each of the above types of communities, what would you say make these communities successful? 

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