I am reading a couple of books and have read some articles that both contradict and praise community involvement but I'm not sure if concepts like crowd sourcing is right or if there's just a time and a place.
For me specifically, I co-own a gamings news site and in a unique twist of events, well basically launching while another one was dying, we started with a community and forum before we even had the mockups for the main site. While it has made the ride very pleasant and fast-paced. However, we are having problems expandin, obviously brands and communities don't gain trust and real value very quickly.
Now the staff and I are fairly convinced at this point we just need to improve the design & functions a bit, luckily I'm a web developer above all else so I quite enjoy that, and keep producing new content and looking for talented writers trying to get their name out.
However, one of the other members started a thread about helping us and exploring what can be do to spread our name, which we are very grateful for their loyalty and support, but it's come down to just a random suggestion box of features and gimmicks which much of the staff and I don't believe in. And now a days, you need to engage the community because they control your reputation with their blogs and other social media. Should we try and do one of their better suggestions? What if that idea does flop? It would make them happy but I don't think that it would make them happy for long if it doesn't work compared to just being consistent and true.
My individual concerns aside: Is crowdsourcing or community leadership good or is it just situational? What do you think are it's limits?
I think crowd-sourcing does work if you have an engaging community of people who are dedicated to improving the offerings of those places (social networks are probably the best showcase of how crowd-sourcing can work). My advice would be that crowd-sourcing is better managed by the community at large rather than the business attempting to crowd their audience like sheep. Placing social bookmarking links on posts, allowing ease of access to Stumble, Digg or Tweet your content... basically laying down the groundwork so they can do it voluntarily will see much better campaign results than trying to encourage people to get the word out (though I will say that encouraging people to join in any social networks you're involved in will be worth the effort). It may seem counter-intuitive to encourage joining your social groups but not to broadcast your content but communities tend to work best when you take a back seat and let the service speak for itself.