Today I wanted to let you know that I will be closing down TheEnvironmentSite.org come the 17th of this month. With all my other work commitments and challenges I simply do not find the time to bring the site to the next level in terms of engagement, moderation and promotion. It is the same story as with SustainabilityForum.com which I closed down last year unfortunately.
There are limits to how much I can take on and 2012 has been the year in which I really had to learn this fact. As a learning I have made significant changes to my work routine and how much time I spending each day blogging and tweeting. It seems to me that I am now were I want to be with the daily blogging and tweeting to be in touch with the global online Sustainability / CSR community. Harnessing an online community on a daily basis is to much work at the moment.
It not all doom and gloom and I have had interesting learnings for me over the past 2 years running TheEnvironmentSite.org.
The four most important learnings:
- The environmental community is struggling to find one voice and it sometimes seems to be fighting against itself rather than bundling on the combined strengths to create change.
- Most frustratingly of all has been the way people go about discussing climate change topics. It seems to me that this debate has gotten completely out of hand across the globe and that individual attitudes and personas dictate how Climate Change topics are being discussed. The two climate change camps are fighting a war of words and there is no end in sight!
- Most members of online communities want to be a part of something bigger and better. But it seems that all to often a few individuals can ruin the whole experience. What a community needs to succeed is strong and just leadership. Something you can only provide if this is your full-time job or as an independent charity.
- You need to be a technology expert and be able to write HTML and PHP to properly manage and develop a site like this. Off-the-shelf software will not be enough to get people to want to be part of your site. If anyone tells you that this is not the case they are wrong.
I have also decided against selling the site to an individual or a business. I feel that environmental communities are not there to be used as marketing tools and profited from. There was only one organisation I would have sold the site to but this option unfortunately did not materialise. This therefore only left me with the choice to close the site down before I have to renew the (quite expensive) annual hosting contract. Decisions have to be made, even if they are tough decisions.