Live at OCS – Internationalization of Online Communities

4:00: Before this session starts... I had a good conversation with someone from Java.Net.  Their team is currently helping teams at Sun push their projects into the open on Java.Net.  Sound familiar?  There were a lot of similarities and we agreed on some of the following keys to success.

  • Teams willing to communicate publicly (schedules, plans, specs, roadmap's, etc) will be much more successful in wooing contributors than teams that just push source code over the wall.
  • Some of the more successful teams killed off their internal support aliases and told everyone to do their Q/A in the public.  This way they got more knowledge in the hands of people that may be capable of contributing source.
  • It was important that the managers (front line) and the developers be bought in on the change to go public.  The interesting difference here is that Sun, top down, is being pushed to go more open.  Look at the recent comments by Mr Swartz. If you don't believe in openness... you won't attract a thriving community. 

More to come later on this conversation I hope. 

4:09: The INTL talk started.

Topic: Internationalization of Online Communities
Description: What should we know about the explosive growth of online communities in the largest markets in the world – India and China?
Introductory comments: Satya Prabhakar / & Xiaofeng Jin /

4:12: Sulekha is a mix of Yellow Pages, Classifieds, Social Networking, Blogs, and Media.

4:15: "Small to medium business advertising is huge. " - Millions of small businesses. Only a small % of ad spending is online today for most of those businesses.  Expect online ad revenue to continue to grow big time in India. 

4:16: Only 1.5 million broadband connections in India, but growing at 30% a quarter.

4:17: Because of the lack of BB the best pages are still kept simple and low bandwidth.

4:20: "The most valuable commodity today is time and human attention."  How do you keep human attention... this is the big question. Their bet is the social media.   50-1 readers to contributor ratio.  Problem is that most of the content isn't worth the time for those 50 people. 

4:22: Want to move those 50 to be contributors with active connections to others on the site. Make the connections personal so they have to come back to keep interacting.

4:23: One way to attract big writers is the opportunity to be heard. They publish a hard copy book of the best entries each year to pull in more people.

4:26: Big problem on how to attract talent.  Thinks that Social Networking is the key to finding passive job seekers.

4:27: Also an interesting comment on building services for advertisers to connect with feedback systems and surveys to potential target customers so the ads are more interactive to the benefit of the company.

4:30: Switch over to China...

4:31: Wow - 50 million active community members (online) in China.  Out of 123 million Internet users.  This ratio seemed really high.  Forums & BBS are the most popular application.

4:32: 60% of the members are 18-24. Under 18 is another 16%. Only 30% over 30.  Completely new generation online.

4:33: Chinese want anonymous access and that's some of the most popular.

4:37 :Active number is high because the only way to get non-government news is though the rumor mill. It's sort of amusing that the government is creating this need, but then also wants to run the infrastructure.

4:40: When we first opened the MSDN forums the heaviest set of users were from China.  We don't know what they were using them for, but they were very active in the first week until we told them we'd build them a Chinese version later.  At least they proved that we supported the character set. 🙂

4:46: Missing pieces in China:

  • eyeball economy results in low quality... still looking for raw hits.
  • Alliance among the communities. There are no bridges between the islands and there are copyright issues.
  • There is a need for a trust system...

Is this really a needed in China list?  All of these feel like missing pieces to the US online economy or trade.

4:54: Do college students have broadband?  Yes, but they still have to pay. 

4:55: Who advertises online in China today? Big brands (Ebay, car companies, Samsung, etc). Sort of like India waiting for the SMB revolution in advertising.

5:00: What about Micropayment systems?  Not yet at the point of doing phone related commerce outside of ringtones and text messages.  However the system is very liquid in cash and it's getting very easy to get cash or a loan. 

5:01: Time for Wine and Cheese.  🙂

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