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My users have a range of topics they discuss. Obviously, not everyone is interested in everything. The platform has the ability set up different tags. These tags become subcommunities (on other sites that utilize the same platform anyway). The doesn't seem to be happening in my community though. Instead we have much more generic tags like "discussion" or "movies" or "support". How can I change this and encourage the development of subcommunities?

  • can you retag the questions? If you have a steady userbase, they will see apattern in the tags and use the more specialised tags from now on. – Johannes_B Apr 21 '15 at 12:07
  • How large is your user community? – Monica Cellio Apr 21 '15 at 13:05
  • @MonicaCellio, About 5K users are active in the last 7 days. – Frank Apr 21 '15 at 19:13
  • @Johannes_B, Retagging by me or the other moderators is time consuming. I'd rather the users did the tagging themselves – Frank Apr 21 '15 at 19:13
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I already see two subcommunities in your community. One is called "Movies", the other is called "Support".

  • You should define first what subcommunities are meant to be. This can vary due to your primary community topic, your user base or the general interests of your users.
  • Tell your users to handle particular interests with specific tags. Don't allow them to spam the same tag again and again for different purposes.
  • You can start off by creating a subcommunity by yourself. Use it as often as possible to show your users how useful subcommunities are. If you do this, don't let the subcommunity created by you die. If this happened, you would have successfully proved that they are not worth the work.
  • Work out with your users if they want subcommunities. It's nice that you think that it's required to regroup by creating subcommunities, however, did you ask your community about this? If they don't see the point in it right now, you'll have to find a different solution or a way to convince them.
  • Do a voting for subcommunities. In order to animate your tags, you can do a voting about it. What are tags that would be used most frequent? If you can find some, it's most likely that your users will use them since it's their opinion about this topic.

Why are "Movies" and "Support" too broad for you? Movies and support questions actually are two topics that should be handled on their own. You can always ask for more detailed tags, e.g. "movie-identification", "support-hardware", "support-forum". Nevertheless, you should keep these tags alive. They represent a major interest of your community since they are so popular.

One different thing is the "Discussion"-tag. Every single thread, chat, or conversation can be tagged as discussion because it's a discussion about something. Maybe you should restrict it a little bit. You could say that the discussion tag should be just used in conversations concerning the platform itself. Still, you could allow it for free use, too. However, you should clearly define what is a discussion or you will end up having dozens of threads tagged as discussion. A example rule:

Please use the discussion tag in chats where you really discuss something. Please refrain from using it in votings, (forum) games or identification requests.

This rule excludes some chats and lets the discussion tagging become a little bit smaller.

But you should think about something. You currently have 5000 users (as I'm writing this answer), do you really think it's necessary to divide your users into smaller pieces of communities? 5000 users aren't as much as you might think. Indeed, you have relatively big tags, still, not everybody is interested in it. Maybe your movie subcommunity just has 50% of your base user level, 2500 users. That would be loss of 50% in that subcommunity. And now, you want to have even more detailed communities. It would go on like this. Your subcommunities would become smaller and smaller, somewhen they are on a level which isn't suitable for daily contributions. Also, users would feel more restricted since they are forced to use the proper tag to find answers.

You shouldn't force this development. If you say that users can create subcommunities by themselves by using a tag, let them be. They will do this if the content is becoming overwhelming.

I think we are at some point where we might need some detailed tags to provide as many answers to your question as possible.

You can say something like this to give them a hint. Either, they accept it and do it, or they just say no. Let them have their freedom of creating subcommunities by themselves.

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Why do you want this?

It is easier for people to identify with each other (and thus form communities) if they have several things in common. In many cases, a community organised around a specific interest will be more successful than a generic community about everything.

How to do this?

People will only talk about things if they have someone to talk about them with. My advice would be to use a process similar to Stack Exchange's Area 51: first see if there is interest in talking about something, and then create a place to talk about it. Another way to do this is to create a generic "off-topic" section of your site/forum, see what topics your users like to talk about, and then create a dedicated "tag" for that topic.

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