Online Communities Can Provide Feedback and Support - dummies

Online Communities Can Provide Feedback and Support

By Deborah Ng

Online communities provide peace of mind. Even if members’ friends and relatives don’t totally get what they’re doing, their online friends do. They’re the ones who say, truthfully, whether a dress makes you look fat. They critique designs and proofread writing and say exactly what they think.

Many online communities are created so that people who have the same interests or career choices can commiserate, swap ideas, and share new ways to do things. They beta-test products and tools, comment on blogs and news items, and review books, products, and services.

Members have to have truly thick skins when they request feedback, however. Although most participants are gentle with their criticisms, every community has at least one member who’s rather blunt with feedback, and sometimes hurt feelings can ensue. Still, despite the rare bit of negativity, online networks and professional groups are valuable tools. Through them, members know what they’re doing wrong —or right — and can tweak their projects accordingly.

Community members can also receive support on a personal level. Parents who are struggling through a discipline or medical issue, for example, can find other parents online who are going through the same thing. Now they can swap stories and tips and know that they’re not alone.

People who don’t have supportive family members or coworkers also have a place to go online where they can receive the backing they’re looking for.

Many times, the online world provides something that’s missing in the offline world.