Update: The author of the article has updated it, after he was given some bad information by Deloitte, who did the research. Instead of 60% of the people interviewed spending $1 million dollars, it’s actually 6%. (This relates to the final paragraph of what I wrote below).

Did you see The Wall Street Journal Article by Ben Worthen titled “Why Most Online Communities Fail”? After I read it, I sent an e-mail to the author and I thought I’d share the thoughts I sent to him (most of them, anyway).

I do think that most of the article is accurate. Most communities (not just communities launched by “businesses”, but all) fail. In that regard, it’s quite like saying “why most businesses fail,” as my friend Brandon Eley pointed out while we were discussing it. The simple answer is: this is hard work. It’s not easy. And, sometimes, even when you put the work in, you still “fail,” depending on the metric. Just like with business and with life.

I agree with Ed Moran, the consultant quoted in the article, people are most important. That’s what my book is about – managing the people aspects and not the software. You need good software, but most importantly, you need good people. And it is crucial to have a good community manager, rather than just a part timer – you need someone dedicated to the community.

I do feel, however, that 100 “businesses” is too small of a sample to use for an accurate method of study. The numbers mentioned, in and of themselves, are not inherently useful. One big question: how long have these communities been running? If someone spends $1 million dollars and has under 100 members, which I sort of doubt, they either just launched or they do not have the people in place who know what they are doing (or care).