Has it really been a month? Geez. This post has been sitting in my "drafts" pile since 11/9/05, so count it as a post during that month, ok? Thanks. More coming later.

There's a radio station here in town that seems to just fit every aspect of the community concept I mentioned. They do all the normal sports radio station things - give away t-shirts and koozies, have random hot girls paid to show up at their remotes and talk to the listeners that show up, etc. - but the one thing that sticks out in my mind is what you hear on the air. They call their community of listeners the "P1s," treating it almost as a badge of honor. They have more inside jokes going around than a gaggle of giggling girls at a slumber party. They rehash and replay tons of bits, drops, and sounds from shows previous - stuff that if you just turned in would sound completely non sequitur for the lack of context. In fact, that's the key point - entering their community takes some acclamation, some research even. It's not easy to be a "P1", and they're perfectly fine with that.

There are some who would say you need to make your community as accessible as possible - avoid inside jokes, jargon, skewed connotations and the like. But I disagree - these are the very things that MAKE a community. One of the most important aspects of any group is that it can be identified, and that members can identify each other.

So the key here is for you to go out and actively create identifiers for your community, if you want it to grow in strength and numbers. The inside jokes and repeated quotes will come with time, but you can encourage them by recognizing them and reusing them yourself. Think of some small, physical thing you can provide each member - perhaps something to wear, or something to carry in their pockets during the day. Something about which someone else can ask "why do you carry(wear) that?"

Symbols of community create identifcation within the group and to the outside world, whether they're physical or just ideological. If you want your community to grow, give it a name, give it symbols, and create its mark on the map more permanently.