Last week, we discussed the communities behind a CMS product, and how they can be done well or poorly. In that post, I mentioned that vendors should have their own developers and technical staff patrolling their forums:
Manage your own forums and put your people in them. Make it a job description for members of your engineering team to devote X hours per week to the forums.
This was high-lighted for me again today when I was reviewing pricing over at Acquia. I found their basic support package offers this as its core offering:
Entry-level access to moderated forums, Acquia Network services and Acquia Library.
Several other items in the list (ex: “How can I contact Acquia to get support?”) are noted as “forums only.”
This is an interesting case, since Drupal – the product Acquia is based around – is open-source, so there’s technically no fee for it. So what you’re getting when you pay Acquia is…the community.
The takeaway here: communities are worth paying for. Acquia is a case in point – they have put an explicit price on community and are thriving for it.
Vendors, you must understand that you are selling both your software, and the community and ecosystem behind it. If the software is great, but the community and ecosystem suck, then you have a problem.