Don’t you just love it when you stumble across a group of people who “get you?” Maybe they share your love for hot air balloons, your fascination with zombies, or your goal to ride every single roller coaster in the world. Whatever the reason, when great minds come together with similar passions, it can be magic.
That’s why we love cool, unusual or fascinating online collaborative communities. They offer innovative ways to bring like-minded people together in the same space to create, envision, explore and just have some plain, old-fashioned fun! Take a look at some of our favorites – our list of five cool online collaborative communities:
So when you first hear about Ravelry – an online community solely dedicated to knitting, crochet and yarn arts – well it might be easy to jump to a certain conclusion. Like, is it just for little old ladies sitting around in rocking chairs making doilies? But spend some time on this free social networking site, and you’ll soon realize that everybody from teens to hipsters and seniors are interacting and exploring all things yarn.
The idea for such a community came from Jessica Forbes, a long-time blogger and knitter who became frustrated with her seemingly endless online searches for new project patterns and interesting yarn choices. In 2007, she enlisted the help of her husband (and computer programmer) Casey, and together they created a virtual paradise for fiber art enthusiasts in the form of Ravelry.com, where you can, “connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world.”
It didn’t take long for the user-driven site to take off, and it evolved into a thriving and quite delightful community filled with whimsy, style and endless information. It even has a mascot in the form of the Forbes’ dog, Bob, who is regularly featured in photos and posts. Ravelry attracts knitters, crocheters, spinners, designers, weavers and dyers who are looking for inspiration, information and resources.
Today, well over a million users from all over the world are able to interact in groups and forums, sharing patterns, project ideas, photos, stories and yarn contributions. You can even get your own original patterns critiqued or reviewed by seasoned and knowledgeable fellow fiber artists. The site also serves as an organizational tool as well as a yarn and pattern database, and attracts industry-specific vendors and suppliers, as they can advertise and promote their industry products and services, which helps keep the site free.
People who don’t even know what gamers are know about Minecraft. Even anti-electronics hermits living in remote mountain cabins know somebody who is obsessed with Minecraft, the open world video game created by Markus Perrson.
At its simplest, Minecraft involves the breaking and placing of blocks, with the main goal being to build structures in which to seek refuge from pesky nocturnal monsters. But players can also work together to explore and create amazing new worlds, and fans ranging from fidgety 10-year-olds to retired professionals are lured by the game’s three-dimensional environment that encourages creative building and exploration within single- or multi-player worlds.
According to The New Yorker, over twenty million copies of the game have been sold since its 2009 release, earning accolades and prestigious awards from within the gaming community, not to mention garnering big-time merchandising deals that have helped Persson earn over a hundred million dollars. Yes, over a hundred million dollars … from just the one game of Minecraft.
But the potential for collaboration and learning doesn’t stop with individual users. Teachers are finding ways to integrate the game into their curriculum, encouraging collaboration and creative thinking while fostering problem-solving skills. Users from all over the world find camaraderie and kindred spirits in the endless array of Minecraft chat rooms, forums and discussions available on Facebook, Twitter, and countless websites dedicated to the game.
Ultimately, what at first glance appears to be a rudimentary but addictive video game is actually an astounding success story and rich learning environment, where projects can be self-initiated, and users can engage with others to face challenging tasks, reach for higher goals and create new environments. As Persson intended, the game is both easily accessible and incredibly complicated, and is the ultimate in successful collaborative communities.
If you’ve ever made ambitious New Year’s resolutions only to give them up a few weeks later, you know how hard it is to set and reach goals. But experts say that those who write down their goals and make them public will be more successful, which is the whole idea behind 43 Things.
Touted as the, “world’s largest goal-setting community,” it’s a free, collaborative social networking site for those who want to set personal goals and find others who are looking to achieve their own. Whether your aim is to travel the world, improve your health, find a new job or learn how to skydive, you’ll find other people here who share the same goals.
Users are able to:
- List goals. Even if you’re not sure what those goals are, you can get help identifying them, and then share your list with the community.
- Record progress. As you track your own progress, you can also ask questions and interact with other users who have or are interested in the same things.
- Cheer. Need inspiration? Or maybe you want to help encourage others as they aim for their own goals? Either way, providing support is part of the plan, as members share success stories, photos and accomplishments.
The idea behind NextDoor is to initiate communication among neighbors and provide a way for them to unite and strengthen their local community. As founder Sarah Leary said, “It’s not that people don’t want to talk to their neighbors, it’s that they don’t know how to start that conversation.”
Nextdoor is a private social network that, “enables its members to maintain a healthy and purposeful dialogue with neighbors.” With the goal of making areas safer and more efficient, this online collaborative community allows users to chat, discuss relevant issues, promote community events and organize initiatives, among other things. To date, over 35,000 neighborhoods in the United States are using it.
One of the most compelling uses of NextDoor is in the area of crime watching, as neighbors can organize patrols or post alerts when suspicious activity has been detected. Other uses include:
- Asking for referrals or recommendations for home improvement or repair services
- Sending out alerts for lost or missing pets
- Offering suggestions for or organizing neighborhood programs or initiatives
- Seeking help for babysitting, house sitting or other special needs
Mozilla Science Lab
Still in its early stages, The Mozilla Science Lab is designed to help researchers from all over the world capitalize on the open web to influence and shape the future of science. Sounds bold, doesn’t it?
Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this initiative will provide space for dialog directly between researchers and an online community, where scientists can share resources, tools and ideas, while exploring ways to foster collaboration in research.
The main areas of focus are:
- Code and data literacy. The goal is to empower students in academia to be “digital researchers,” by providing a platform for reproducing, reusing and sharing research online.
- Support and innovate with the community. By coordinating efforts and innovating in a collaborative fashion, the aim is to push the boundaries of science on the web.
- Convening a global conversation. Science knows no borders, so it stands to reason that related conversations should be global. By soliciting ideas and thoughts from all over the world in an open forum, the appropriate tools can get in the hands of the right people, enabling collaboration for the greater good.
Share with Us Your Favorite Online Collaboration
Have you stumbled across an online collaborative community that is unique, unusual, or just plain fun? We’d love to hear about it – we might even include it in a future post! Let us know about the sites you love, and why you love them, right here.