I’m wrestling with this question. On one side if you organize your community it is clean neat and easy to navigate and you have manageable areas for community managers to focus time and resources, But on the other if you determine silos for content and restrict topics to what you believe are the most critical for your core audiences, might you be missing a big part of the conversation?
Lately I’ve been thinking a community site needs modest organization, with some free form and organic evolutions driven by the community. One thing that social media does really well is cater to the long tail of the market. So as much as you try to organize the site by how you think your audience will want content categorized, you may not be able to predict exactly who will come and how they will find value in the community site.
Nike has created a terrific community for its Nike Plus product. They first went about creating a site mostly to allow customers to upload a jogging log. As a valued added service they loosely organized a modest number of forum topics for this site. They surprisingly noticed a forum topic on runner challenges far exceeding traffic over the others. That one topic has now become the focus of the community site. They could not have predicted this.
So I wonder how much order and structure should be given to a community site? How do you balance provide enough structure to manage content and resources to sustain a rich experience of the community while at the same time providing the flexibility to allow the community to shape the weight of not only the conversations and topics but the community itself?