Archive for September, 2012

Not just another Zombie Story: Bringing a Community Back from the Dead

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment

ZOMBIE EXTERMINATIONI have the unenviable task over the next few months of contacting community facilitators who are looking after communities on the Knowledge Hub that appear to have gone into an inactive state.

When I say inactive, I’m classing it as no new content in the last 6 months.

But you should not despair the community may have served its purpose and it may be ready to close.  And if that is the case please email they can delete it from the system for you.

But if it’s just inactive “Can you bring a dead community back to life?”

The short answer is, yes, because you can always just start from scratch

But before you start you might want to have a look at why it be became inactive in the first place

  • Did people just lose interest?
  • Did the facilitators lose interest?
  • Was the community built around a product or service that is no longer relevant?

If this is still the case.  Then maybe it’s worth thanking everyone who has participated in the community and give it a good send off.

But if the answer is No, or sort of.  Then maybe there is still hope.

Bringing a dead community back to life isn’t so different from building a community from scratch.

While working on the communities of practice Platform I developed a guide on how to build communities of practice in local government.

Which I’m in the process of updating for the Knowledge Hub.

But the basic principles are the same and we say there are 5 key ingredients for most Communities (although these do not constitute a full recipe).


  1. Purpose: a Community needs a clear purpose which is relevant and meaningful to its members. It should specify exactly what the community is for and what will be gained from being part of it.
  2. Facilitation: every Community should begin with a team of three facilitators as a minimum; they will work together to ensure that the purpose of the community and the needs of the members are being met through a variety of online and offline activities and discussions. They welcome new members and keep the community vibrant and focused.
  3. Activities: within each Community there are a variety of activities, tools and techniques employed to aid and enhance conversations and the transfer of knowledge.
  4. Active membership: each community will have active members with a lively interest in sharing knowledge with each other.
  5. Promotion: ensure high levels of management buy in and promote the Communities ability to help solve daily work challenges

It will definitely be difficult to get the original members to just start being active again. They have probably moved on with all the changes in Local Government over the last year and the community is no longer a part of their life.

But, they may still be interested in subject area that brought them all together in the first place so don’t give up on them yet.

What you have at that point is a lot of potential community members, but no actual community.

What you really want to do is build a strong core that will sustain the community, and grow it out from that core.

So focus on rebuilding relationships with individual people, the same way you would if you were starting a community from scratch.

Find the people who were once active and send them a message, maybe hop on the phone. Start introducing people to each other and build relationships behind the scenes.

As far as what to do about the community that once thrived, that’s hard to say. You might want to start from scratch and invite people to the new community. Or you might be able to leverage the existing content to respark conversations.

So in order to build a self sustaining community, you’ll need to build a strong core around an interest that will live on for a long time.

So go ahead and bring your community back from the dead. Or better yet, build one that will never die.

A big thank you to David Spinks at the, for the impeccable timing of his blog which this is based on.

%d bloggers like this: