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This question was brought up at the Community Leadership Summit in Portland.

How can one describe the "value" of a community? This might be for purpose of seeking investment, encouraging new members to join, measuring progress.

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    Which value do you mean? There are different ways how you could measure a community. By its growth, by its users, by its buying power (if you talk about a value in an economic view), by its knowledge (if you talk about a value in a scientific view), and so on. What exactly do you want to have described? Could you elaborate this, please?
    – Zerotime
    Jul 19 '15 at 11:27
  • I realize this runs into the problem of being an overly open-ended question. However, I'm hoping to come up with some general rules or practices of describing value of a community as this was a recurring question brought up by many community managers of diverse communities at CLS.
    – Greg Chase
    Jul 19 '15 at 22:59
  • Example value measurements I heard in a talk today: "Value to participants to contribute to community", "Number and increase in number of elite community members".
    – Greg Chase
    Jul 19 '15 at 23:00
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Value is subjective - what someone sees as valuable may not be to someone else sees. For the purposes of this question, here are metrics that will allow you to place value on a community.

(1) Traffic - how many people visit your community daily, weekly, monthly, etc.?

(2) Pageviews - how many pages are seen by people who visit your community?

(3) Members - how many registered users does your community have?

(4) Quality of Content - how does the content on your site match with the expectations of those who come to visit it? This can be measured by engagement metrics such as bounce rates (the rate at which people come to your site and leave without visiting any other pages occurs)

(5) Engagement - how many posts are being written daily, weekly, monthly, etc.? How are your social media outlets working out?

You will need to have access to analytics for exploring this on your site. Most software will have some sort of reporting tools for you to use. You will need to determine what "value" means to you, to a visitor, to a user, and to an advertiser. Once you have this in mind, you can explore what your site has to offer in terms of the value you've assigned.

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  • While I think these metrics and qualities for measuring activity and health of a community, It might only be useful for seeking investment such as from advertisers. To me value needs to be described in metrics related to the perspectives of why a community exists and why people choose to participate in the community.
    – Greg Chase
    Jul 27 '15 at 0:46
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To me it seems, Juan M s answer is mostly focused on quantitative criteria that are most appropriate to evaluate the value of middle or large sized communities, but that do not easily scale down to small specialized expert or professional communities. So here are some additional quality criteria:

(1) Uniqueness: Is your community the only one that provides exactly this service in this form (level of discussions, specialization,...)?

(2) Real-world acceptance: Is your community accepted and used by a significant part of professionals or experts of the "real-world"?

(3) X-factor: Does the community allow professionals and experts of the topic in the real-world to achieve things that would not be possible otherwise, as for example easily inspire new international collaborations among professionals and experts?

Just recently, Stack Exchange has stepped away a bit from the notion that only large enough communities (as meassured by site statistics such as they are meantioned in Juan M s answer) are valuable too, and now acknowledges that smaller specialized communities that measure activity rather in days per question than questions per day for example, can be useful too as long as they keep getting moderated and are free of spam.

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  • I'm seeking a way for community managers to be able to quantitatively and qualitatively describe the value of their community, and value derived from a community. One example: Wikipedia is a community. It has a value of "tens of billions of dollars" according to the Smithsonian: smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/…
    – Greg Chase
    Jul 27 '15 at 0:48

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