📻 — Building a Community, Step by Step: The Operating System

This is your Community, Daily.

Hey yenizens!

I spent most of yesterday agonizing over the foundational building blocks of OUR community, the yeniverse.

Or more specifically, I’m starting to put together our community’s fundamental “operating system” — the way that we’re going to operate as a community when we launch a more consistent and persistent environment.

*Gasp! Yes…! it’s coming! And I can’t wait.

This is going to be a place where we as makers, creators, and operators can come together and help each other build sustainable and profitable community-centric businesses.

But, before we launch I wanted to take the time necessary to plan out not just the launch plan but also (and more importantly) codifying our community’s culture in a living document that can help align every member.

So, I thought I’d share my work — my progress and my process — of how we (yes, you and me and other yenizens!) are slowly and intentionally building a community from scratch.

For starters, I believe that the “base install” or operating system for a new community consists of 3 fundamental, core parts:

  1. Why we exist (who we are)

  2. What we do (rituals)

  3. How we behave (code of conduct)

THE 1st PART is a simple way of describing the community’s reason for existence, the unique and distinct why. Sometimes this is framed as a “mission” or “vision” statement but at the very least describes the people involved (an ideal customer or community member type) and the outcomes that you expect to see.

For our growing community, the yeniverse, I’ve drafted out these two things that capture the first element:

  • Our religion (mission) is to democratize community building, giving everyone community-building superpowers.

  • We are makers, creators, and business operators passionate about building sustainable income through community-driven products & services. Success looks like a growing, profitable community.

This is why I’ve built the newsletter and why I’ve been building community-centric software for the past 3+ years! Everything that we do as yenizens is in support of helping more online communities launch and survive.

🛑 —My personal goal is to help launch 1,000 profitable communities in 2021. I hope I can help many of you be one of those one thousand!!

THE 2nd PART of your new community’s “operating system” is about repeat behaviors, consistent and repetitive rituals that help inform a member about what is acceptable and not acceptable.

According to Master Community Builder™️ Rosie Sherry, rituals are effectively the “traditions” within the community, the things that we do when we show up, the things that we identify with and eventually come to expect.

Her recent (paid) newsletter issue covers rituals in-depth and she gives a ton of proven insight and examples of how this might work, like (coworking) events, email digests, repeat(able) conversation threads, and more.

There is almost no right nor wrong “ritual” but it’s important to intentionally decide and institute a few to start and have the rest grow organically. Remember, good behavior produces good behavior while (accepted) bad behavior also reproduces in the same way.

For our new community space, I’ve drafted a handful of rituals to help newcomers to the yeniverse make sense of what they’re seeing:

You can see that I plan on integrating this newsletter on Fridays by sharing more updates in and around our community, including posts like this that outline my literal community-building process.

Lastly, THE 3rd PART of what I consider the core community operating system is simply a note about behavior; you can call this a “Code of Conduct” or “Community Rules” or even something tragically-boring like “Terms of Service” but I believe it’s important to let folks know how you expect members to behave while engaging in the community.

Some folks feel the need to create sophisticated, long, and specific documents here but I’m not entirely sure that is necessary nor appropriate in the early-stages of a community.

Consequently, I’ve kept our own “Code of Conduct” short and to the point, lightly borrowing inspiration from GitHub and Kickstarter:

We want people to build and grow communities better. Although we maintain the site, this is our yeniverse that we get to build together, and we need your help to make it the best it can be. Respect each other. Remember to criticize ideas, not people. Don’t spam. Don’t be a jerk. If you see something, say something. Leave it better than when you arrived.

— YENIVERSE Code of Conduct

I’ve built and managed many communities and usually you can scale to a very reasonable size with something as simple and as plainspoken as this.

So, what am I missing? What are some of the fundamental building blocks that you’ve instituted when building a new community?

Of course, I’d love your advice, feedback, and perspective! Reply to this issue or email me any time!