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Chapter 4. ROLES: From Newcomer to Old-Timer

Chapter 4. ROLES: From Newcomer to Old-Timer

All around the world, in all kinds of communities, you see the same timeless social roles in action. Newcomers arrive and must prove themselves before being fully accepted. Natural leaders emerge and take charge of running the show. And old-timers sit on the sidelines telling stories, performing rituals, and kvetching about how much things have changed. These familiar and universal roles are being played out right now in churches and bars, playgrounds and workplaces—and also in the mailing lists, newsgroups, chat rooms, and virtual worlds of cyberspace.

Each individual’s role, however, changes over time. Shy visitors evolve into confident contributors; eager students become knowledgeable teachers; and novice game players become tournament champions. It’s your job as a community builder to create an environment that fosters these basic social roles, while meeting the changing needs of your members as they become progressively more involved in community life.

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