While most of the Community 2.0 Conference is focused on the business enterprise, there's much to be gleaned from consumer-driven communities. The panel that featured Craig's List founder Craig Newmark, About.com CEO Scott Meyer and Social Signal's Alexandra Samuel explored this. Giovanni Rodriguez, a Valley-based PR/marketing consultant, moderated.
I'm sure you can find a more substantive recounting on Corante's special Community 2.0 blog site.
One of the take-aways for me revolved around the mistake of over-investing in the engineering of one's online community platform at the expense of nurturing authenticity. Scott recognized Craig's List, with its minimalist interface, as a good example of a site where community (not bells & whistles) drives its success.
Craig, for his part, absolved his company for what ails the newspaper (classified) industry. He suggested that perhaps newspapers lost their consumer-driven focus in favor of profit margins (through the marginalization of investigative journalism, etc).
Alexandra made a good point about starting communities with a small, but passionate group of members versus building a boffo site and with the hope people will come. One way is to find a topic about which a company's demographic is passionate and build it from there.
I had a chance to chat briefing with Craig and Scott following the session. Here's what each had to say: Craig Newmark (RT: 1:57) and Scott Meyer Part I and II (RT: 2:38 and 1:37).