“Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together” said John Ratzenberger, who played “Cliff” on Cheers. Despite Ratzenberger not being a community expert, this quote speaks volumes about an inherent characteristic of communities, which is that they come together and stay together because of shared values. For a community to exist in harmony and succeed, their members need to share the values of the group. The members also need to feel like they have a purpose within the group.
Building a community can be a difficult task, but keeping it together can be just as difficult. To succeed as a community, it requires a system of values and a cohesive set of beliefs, as these are the most essential characteristics of a unified community. Within a set of beliefs, the community must provide its members some basic behavioral standards, like reliability, order, and respect.
To create an environment with shared values, and for a community to function properly and maintain its growth, it must have reliability. Reliability describes how a community can sustain itself when problems arise and the consistency with which it operates under normal conditions. Community members must be able to depend on one another, and sharing a set of values regarding the community goals creates a sense of reliability within a community.
Finally, with shared values and reliability, a community must have one of the most fundamental components – resources. Long ago, a community would not survive if there were not physical resources to sustain it. Resources that make successful communities are labor, skills, physiological resources, and mental resources. Presently, within digital communities, mental resources are vitally important for sustaining a community because physical resources are infrequently part of a digital community. Regardless of the type of resources, for a community to survive and thrive, it must have sufficient resources, but only if those resources are applied with a purpose defined by shared values.
To achieve progress as a community, shared values must define the community. Values must be defined by the common ideals that will bind the community together for a larger purpose. The shared values within a community, that define it, influence the goals, ultimately guiding a community, determine whether it will “conquer” the world.
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