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Closed vs Open Communities (and why we choose one over the other for The Theme Foundry)

By Melissa Hill on April 8, 2016

You can make a pretty good case that an engaged community ultimately forms the basis of any healthy business. At The Theme Foundry, we have several levels of community. We have our premium support forums here, where we give help and think through solutions with our users. We have our community support forums that we maintain on WordPress.org — which anyone can access to get help with Make. And we have specialized communities — like our Slack channel for Make Plus Professional members.

For the most part, due to the sensitive nature of the topics posted in our forums, we’ve chosen to keep our communities closed. Our members overwhelmingly prefer this for privacy and security reasons. Our Slack communities are more akin to “masterminds” and we try to foster collaboration and share in one another’s successes. So far, we’ve chosen to embrace the closed model for our communities, but lately, we’ve also been considering a more open community for Make users to jam on their site ideas and needs.

In last week’s episode of #CMGRHangout, I had the opportunity to chat with other community managers on the subject of open vs. closed communities. Watch the replay here:

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And catch up on the Twitter feed from the show on Storify.

Do you maintain an online community for your business? How do you feel about the open vs. closed model?