Community Content

Form a Community Content Committee

Committee Tasks:

  • Determine if the community online presence (web site, portal, etc.), meets community needs. If not, create one or enhance the current site.
  • Determine content categories for a portal
  • Research portal software costs and types of content modules available.
  • Enlist volunteers who will agree to keep content current.
  • Create use policies for contributors to the portal.

What distinguishes connected communities is how they use technology to improve life in their communities. Creating and sharing community content is an essential part of the process.

Community content:

  • Meets the needs of many audiences: citizens, visitors, newcomers, businesses, and local organizations.
  • Is available from many sources: local government and non-profits, local business and community groups, churches, hobbyists, citizen-journalists, and individuals.
  • Comes in many formats: calendars, faqs, checklists, polls, articles, reports, interactive maps, videos, podcasts, real-time webcasts.
  • Is produced locally but made available worldwide via the Internet.

Online Community Content

Most rural communities could benefit from having an online community presence. A community portal is a downsized, localized, and editable version of the portals you see on the Internet. Common community portal features include:

  • Event calendars
  • Local news
  • Free classified ads
  • Discussion forums
  • Links to local business and organization websites

Local organizations and registered community members can edit, and update their own posts.

The key to creating a successful community portal is creating a really useful and easy to use site for the local community and anyone who is interested in it. It doesn't really matter what organization runs or sponsors the portal. What does matter is up-to-date and accurate information!

Examples of connected community portals include:

  • Blacksburg Electronic Village was the first community-based portal and a model that many projects follow.
  • BlackHills Today is a commercially sponsored portal serving the Black Hills region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
  • is a local community portal for Beaufort, Hyde, and Washington Counties in North Carolina sponsored by a local telecom provider.
  • Today in Ashland, Oregon uses software donated by a local portal developer to offer free community portal.

A community will likely have a number of portal sites: city and county governments, Chamber of Commerce, local newspaper, local Internet Service Provider (ISP), or even a community site run by a single dedicated individual. Each offers its own view of the community.

Who Needs Portals?

Although community portals can be useful, they are rarely all that interesting to read.

There are three things that folks really like to do online: find information, shop for bargains and new or quirky products, and be entertained.

Some folks like the challenge of creating their own content and making it available on the WWW. Some write their own blogs, others hang out virtual communities like

Other forms of content:

  • News: is a community news site not a community portal but it's eye-catching photography and excellent writing makes it a popular local destination. The site is a good example of community news site where veteran journalists mingle with citizen-journalists.
  • Regional Blogs: Blogging in the Inland NW provides thumbnail sketches of bloggers in the Inland Northwest (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho).
  • Podcasting and videocasting are becoming popular ways to share information and viewpoints so now there are audio blogs and video blogs as well as blogs. 4-H Network News, Jefferson County, Washington Extension is a great example of a youth-run news service.
  • Video Depositories: YouTube and Google Video let anyone put their videos online for the world.
  • Other social media:, Second Life, Twitter, LinkedIn and other virtual communities are providing new options for communities to share information and stay connected.

While many of us love our local community, sometimes our interests are so different it's hard to find kindred spirits. One way is to reach out online: put up a Facebook page or a blog about collecting cruise ship decals, Irish stamps, or your trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame and you will find an instant community.