Competition. It drives people to do better. In sports, we want to beat the other team. In business, we want more people buying our products or services. Online, we want more people visiting our web sites and blogs. Competition makes everyone else your opponent.
Most people consider competition to be a good thing, because it makes us work harder and pushes us to be better. However, it can also have a negative effect, for we try to hide our strategies from others and push them out of the arena so that only we are seen. We end up isolated and paranoid.
This negative aspect can be most detrimental to people that are still trying to learn how to do something. In the case of a shared experience, such as learning languages, we sometimes need to set aside the competitive ideology and work together to help each other.
Some people create and build things to help others, with their end goal being something that benefits others, rather than just themselves. In languages, we almost naturally need this, because the more people that we can get speaking other languages, the more people we have to potentially talk to.
People that write blogs about languages and learning them are taking what they have learned and giving it to others. That is a generous action, and not one done easily, for building a blog, or any website, takes a lot more effort than most people are willing to give. It is far more than just writing about what you know; you need to learn software and marketing techniques, engage in interactive feedback, worry about copyright practices, and a bunch of other little technical things that make a blog successful. Even ignoring competition, you still need to make a good product for it to be useful to others.
I started this blog several months ago, and am still learning so many things about how to make it better. I have been fortunate to have Brian Powers, who runs the Languages Around the Globe blog, as a friend and advisor. We have spent countless hours talking about blogging, advertising, languages, and community issues, and I have learned so much.
One day, while talking, we struck upon the idea of creating a group on Facebook where other bloggers and website owners could come together. Rather than hiding what they knew, they would be able to share their experience and expertise with others. After asking some people if they would be interested in such a group (from which we got several excited responses), we created The Digital Language Collective.
The activity and number of people joining was amazing! Instantly, we met many people we never knew before and heard about their fantastic projects. So many new blogs and writers! Immediate topics were people announcing their blogs and what platforms they used for them, policies for guest posts, what monetization practices (if any) was best, and using Twitter as a promotional tool.
But the discussion was more than technical issues. Members now had a new resource in the form of others they could find guest posters, promoters, and reviewers. People with web sites and products had a list of people that could help them advance their creations and bloggers had new material they could write about. I even got a new topic for a blog post in this article!
The group is not incredibly large, with just over 50 members at the time of this writing, and will never be very large, since it is aimed at people that are writing and creating language advice and resources. Sadly, we never seem to have enough of those, but this group will hopefully inspire others to start their own.
If you run a language blog, have a language website, or have created language software, please think about joining us on Facebook. United we rise!