The earliest online communities I remember were Yahoo! Newsgroups. These communities were simply email lists that allowed members to send messages to anyone who registered. 11 years ago, I signed up for a group that discussed my favorite musician. I was the 29th member (and now we have 471!). We’re still small, but this group of people from all over the world has provided me so much joy over the years. We have met blindly for dinner before shows and continually debate the quality of obscure songs. We share any morsel of new news. We have developed a tight mutual respect over the years and most of us have never even met.
I was clearly not alone in my experience. Now, roughly half the population of the United States is enjoying the benefits of connecting with small groups of like-minded people online. Communities have evolved significantly and websites that connect people are creating value and benefitting financially. We can post our thoughts so easily and connect with people that share our experience. I just looked at a forum that discusses my favorite musician and over 500 people have visited the forum in just the last 24 hours! Clearly, the old news groups are passé, and we have evolved to a much better and more accessible community experience.
What’s next for communities? At BarclaycardUS we believe that community should be a part of the credit card product and experience. The best part about adding community to the product is that the product can now become ours. We can evolve it together. The question I want to ask you is what is the best way to do this? If we want to change the product, for example, how should we decide on the change? Do we have a democratic vote? If only 20% of you vote and 51% vote yes, is that sufficient to change the product? We want you to help design how we will design the product. We also want to hear about your best community experiences so that we can try to replicate the reasons why community is so important online. Please post any initial thoughts below and respond to a few questions in the Lab Q&A that will help us design the best experience for you.
We think for some of you this can be a very special experience (as good as my musician community? Maybe.) and for the rest of you, the community can be an additional way to get information and enhance your experience with Barclaycard.