I find it ironic that I disagree with Joseph’s post about gated communities. He argues that, for the following reasons, the majority of online networks will be gated.
Gated communities have the following characteristics, making them
attractive incubators of ideas and knowledge sharing amongst
individuals that are otherwise skeptical about participating in open,
- Building Trust – closed networks, by
definition, have some set of criteria or vetting process for granting
membership. Because each member is guaranteed to be of a certain
caliber, by virtue of this vetting process, each individual involved in
the network is more likely to be engaged due to the heightened level of
- Fostering Privacy – no external
search engines, spammers, marketers, or competitors are allowed in,
making it far less likely for a member’s contributions to be used
maliciously against them.
- Facilitating Quality Interactions
– gated communities are usually formed around a common goal or
affinity, giving participants a springboard for discussions and
interactions that most members of the community will find interesting
or have common views about. Recommendations or insights shared in this
context are likely to be far higher in quality.
- Connections to the Real World
– again, closed networks form around a belief, affinity, or geographic
area that affords meeting face to face or collaborating on projects
offline as well as online. Connections formed in these networks have a
greater opportunity for developing outside of the online network than
do random connections formed on large scale open networks.
The irony of my disagreement lies in the fact that I worked with Joseph to create one of the mature and most successful examples of gated social communities at SelectMinds. I now believe, that for information to flow freely, and for the network to start genuinely benefiting from Metcalfe’s law, the walls have to come down. Tribe has learned this. So has Friendster. MySpace proves it to us every day we look at Alexa rankings.
At SelectMinds, we were required by our clients’ privacy and security concerns, to keep the walls up. However, I continue to believe, that the greatest promise at SelectMinds would be realized if the client base would begin experimenting with the cross-pollination of their social networks.