"Surprise is the opposite of engagement."
This may be one of the most simple, brilliant things I have ever heard someone say when it comes to creating engaged, active communities.
When we talk about building communities the open source way, we often mention transparency and openness as critical elements of any community strategy. But when I saw this quote, it reminded me why transparency and openness are so important.
When we are open with people, we avoid surprising them. We keep them in the loop.
Nothing kills someone's desire to be an active contributor in a community more than when they feel like they've been blindsided. By a decision. By an announcement. By the introduction of a new community member.
Few things help a community get stronger faster than simply engaging community members every step of the way. Asking them for input first. Ensuring they are "in the know."
When thinking about the community you are trying to create, maybe start asking yourself questions like:
"How can I minimize the number of (negative) surprises?"
"Will this decision surprise community members?"
"Am I maximizing the opportunities to involve the community in decisions?"
"Has the community weighed in on this?"
It's a very simple equation, and therein lies the beauty:
Surprise = less engagement
If you've seen examples of situations where a big surprise has reduced community engagement, please feel free to share them below.
And thanks John Lilly (and Chris Blizzard) for the tip!