4 Replies Latest reply on Apr 26, 2010 10:02 AM by grsnovi

    plans to improve metrics to look at community health


      For a community, counting documents, people and page views is not the whole story.  Based on your experience, what are the items that we should track to have a better idea of the health of the community?  What are you looking at adding to help track the "right" trends?


      For example, Lithium has a Community Health Index that goes beyond simple page views.


      "The characteristics of healthy communities and their corresponding
      health factors are:

      Growing = Members. After an initial surge of registrations characteristic of a
      newly-launched community, membership in a healthy community continues to
      grow. Although mature communities typically experience a slower rate of growth,
      they still add new members as the company’s customer base grows. The traditional
      method for measuring membership is the registration count.


      Useful = Content. A critical mass of content posted on an online community is
      clearly one of its strongest attractions to both members and casual visitors. In
      support communities, the content enables participants to arrive at a general
      understanding or get answers to specific questions. In engagement (enthusiast or
      marketing) communities, it serves as a magnet to attract and engage members.
      In listening communities, the content posted by community members gives the
      company valuable input from the customers who use their products or services.

      A steady infusion of useful content, then, is essential to the health of a community.
      The traditional metric for measuring content is number of posts. This metric
      alone, however, gives no indication of the usefulness of the content, especially in
      communities that do not use content rating or tagging. In order to model content
      usefulness instead of sheer bulk, we consider page views as a surrogate for
      marketplace demand, but then dampen their effect to reduce the likelihood of
      spurious inflation.

      Popular = Traffic. Like membership, traffic in a community—page views or eyes
      on content—is one of the most frequently cited metrics for community health. In
      deriving the Traffic health factor, we started with the standard page view metric,
      but then mitigated the effect of robot crawlers in order to diminish their impact.
      Responsiveness. The speed with which community members respond to each
      other’s posts is another key metric for determining community health. Participants
      in support communities, for example, are only willing to wait for answers for
      a limited amount of time. The same is true for engagement and other types
      of communities. If there is too much of a lag between posts and responses,
      conversations peter off and members start looking elsewhere.

      The traditional response time metric counts the number of minutes between the
      first post and the first reply. That first post might be anything—a question, a blog
      article, an idea, a status update. Because our analysis of community-member
      behavior has revealed the importance of subsequent responses, we have enhanced
      the traditional response time metric to account for all of the responses in a topic.

      Interactive = Topic Interaction. Interaction between participants is one of the
      key reasons that online communities exist. The traditional metric for measuring
      interaction is thread depth, where threads are topics of discussion and their depth
      is the average number of posts they contain. This way of looking at interaction,
      however, does not consider the number of individuals who are participating.
      As a result, a topic with six posts by the same participant would have the same
      depth as one with six different contributors. Because our experience with online
      communities has led us to understand that the number of participants in an
      interaction is even more important than the number of posts, we have added the
      dimension of unique contributors to our calculation of Topic Interaction.

      Liveliness. Although most people would be hard-pressed to define it, they
      recognize and respond to liveliness or buzz when they encounter it. Research has
      shown that participants are not only attracted to but are also motivated to return
      and contribute in communities that feel animated and vibrant.


      We find that liveliness can be best measured by tracking a critical threshold of
      posting activity that experience and analysis have shown us characterizes healthy
      communities. In calculating the Liveliness factor, we look not only at the number
      of posts but also at their distribution within the community. We have identified the
      critical threshold at between five and ten posts per day in each community segment.
      Segments include discussion boards, forums, blogs, idea exchanges, and so forth.
      Lopsided distributions indicate a need to balance out the hot and cold spots in
      the community."



      Where are you going with upgrades to improve community health?