I read a lot of blogs yesterday referencing this story in the Wall Street Journal. The title is: “Why do Online Communities Fail” and it offers reasons why, you guessed it…most online communities fail.

I know it’s true, but I spent a lot of time reading the comments on several blogs and posting my own, and what I learned is that there are a lot of online community managers out there who are extremely committed to their communities and doing what they have to do to make them thrive.

Those comments gave me hope, and also validated my efforts and the hours I pour into GOLO.com even when I should be doing anything but.

Here’s a comment I left on this blog:

I will continue to stress the importance of the community manager’s role. This role should be filled by a committed individual who will reach out to the community, encourage them, value them and make sure they know their presence is appreciated. If there is no one actively engaging with users, and doing so with a purpose…the community will cease to exist.

As I think about this further, it seems that the work that goes into managing an online community and attracting new members has been highly underrated. I don’t think that it is yet common knowledge how much it takes to do this job and do it well.

THAT is a major reason online communities fail. Did I conduct a survey to come to that conclusion, no? Do I have adequate support material to backup this claim? Maybe.

Do I have a gut feeling that this is the truth? Absolutely.

Janet at Beeline Labs asked me in one of the comment forums: “What else do you find makes a great community manager?” My answer: “A thick skin, sense of humor and an iron hand when hard decisions need to be made. Empathy would help, and a willingness to be an advocate for users.”

Well here’s one I failed to mention: A keen sense of knowing when to simply, trust your gut.