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Becoming Part of a Community: How YOUR Belonging Affects Others
I have been a member of the internet community since 1998 when I had my first chat room experience with Talk City. For me, that was just the beginning, and I quickly moved onto the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server Dalnet. I found the world of the internet to be highly addictive and I enjoyed the fact that I could be anyone or anything I desired. I was masked by a computer screen. Nobody had to see me, know what I looked like or even who I was. I enjoyed the anonymity and I unfortunately used it to my advantage.
Later on, I discovered internet forums. I have owned several forums that failed for their own unique reasons. Most of these were formed following some incident or episode with a larger forum from which I chose to branch. I spoke up and I set a name for myself. It wasn't a particularly good name, either. I became an instigator, a forum "troll." I grated on people and I thrived on the controversy. To say that I enjoyed making a stir would be an understatement.
Then blogging became the "in" thing and I jumped on that bandwagon, too. I've had several very successful blogs. Lack of internet access accounts for the closure of the successful blogs and has led me into a much calmer point in my life.
I am no longer an instigator. I am no longer a troll. My purpose is not to create an emotional reaction in people, but an intellectual reaction. I want those who choose to read what I write to think. I want to challenge people in one way or another. I want to inform and I want to invite discussion. I don't want to argue and I don't want the controversy. I would rather be your friend than your enemy. I don't want the conflict. I don't want to be "it." I want to be part of something that is bigger than myself.
I want to be part of a community.
Hubpages is a Community
I didn't join Hubpages for its community element: I joined because I wanted a venue in which to write where I knew that my voice would be heard. With Hubpages I am not lost in the fray or held back by the more seasoned writers. I have been here less than two weeks at the time of writing and have never been made to feel "less" than another hubber. My new hubs have just as much chance of being viewed as new hubs written by someone with a higher hubscore. I love the way the system works!
If I was prioritizing my reasons for being here, the second most important reason would be the money. Being able to write (and write often) and be paid for the time and effort that I am putting into the writing is a phenomenal thing for me. I've slaved over articles in the past and have seen no revenue from them (in spite of Google Adsense). Hubpages allowed me to see a difference just in the first week (however small the difference was!).
What astonishes me, though, is the fact that Hubpages is a community. When I look at my blog (through Blogger), I don't see a community. I have a small group of regular readers who don't usually comment on my posts. I find myself easily losing interest when it feels as though people simply don't care about the life and times of EM. It's easy to become discouraged.
That doesn't happen here: At Hubpages there is always an interested party commenting on your hubs. Whether the reason is because they want to direct you to their own profile or if they are genuinely interested in your topic, people post their comments on your hubs and it can change your entire outlook. It might encourage you on a day when you're feeling down, or it might boost your motivation to write more (and therefore to make more money). Whatever the case, there is a valuable community here at Hubpages.
A Valuable Member of the Community?
What does it mean to be a valuable member of the Hubpages community? I think that this might be defined differently depending on the person answering the question. For me, I believe that a valuable member of the community is someone who gets involved in a way that is of value to other hubbers.
So how can you become a valuable member of the Hubpages community? Read on:
- Create Hubs
If you join Hubpages and want to be a valuable and contributing member of the community, the most important thing that you can do is to create hubs. Presumably you joined Hubpages in order to get published, whether your intent is to make money or to gain an audience for your written work (hopefully you will experience both!).
If you want to truly experience this community, I believe you need to start out by writing!
- Comment on Hubs
I try to take some time every day to read some hubs. I don't have a real system for choosing which hubs to read. Sometimes I look at my own fans and read hubs written by my fan club. Other times I read hubs written by hubbers who are in my own favorites list. And sometimes I just look at the Hub listings by topic and choose what to read from there.
I comment on about 50% of the hubs that I read. The main point here is that you should leave a comment that reflects the hub you have read. For example, if you were to read my hub about Using Wordpress (Nominated for Hubnuggets!), you wouldn't want to leave a comment about how much I helped you learn how to use Blogger Gadgets. Even worse are generic comments meant to do nothing more than direct traffic to your own profile page!
If you are commenting in the community spirit it is important to leave a comment that reflects the content of the hub and indicates that you have taken the time to read!
- Post to the Forums
When I first joined Hubpages I didn't even think about posting on the forums. I am a member of several internet forums (and own one, not yet launched) and consider myself something of a "Forum Junkie." I wasn't looking for another forum community. But then BristolBoy invited me to check out the forums and I gradually moved towards posting there. Perhaps not as much as some people do, or even as much as I would like, but I do follow the forums (however loosely).
- Be Helpful and Informative
For me, this usually takes the form of paying attention to the Knowledge Exchange forum and posting responses there (when I know the answer). Another way you can be helpful and informative for your fellow hubbers is to make hubs about things that relate to all of us and to our community. We have several hubbers who have written awesome articles about how to make money here on Hubpages and who have answered questions that haunt newcomers to Hubpages. These more experienced hubbers are an invaluable resource and a wonderful addition to the overall community.
Helping One Another
Hubpages provides an excellent sense of community, and one in which we can truly help one another. I always come away with an overall sense of well-being after reading a positive response to one of the hubs that I have written, and also to knowing that someone has been led to think about something I have written. I enjoy intelligent discourse on the forums and I like the feeling of being included that I get from taking part in the Hubpages community. I am grateful to be here, and hope that I can continue to be a valuable member for years to come.
Whether you have been part of Hubpages for many years or only a few days, remember that when you treat someone with kindness and understanding, and when you reach out with an encouraging word or two, you make the world -- and Hubpages -- a better place.