In a previous post I talked about handing over ownership to community members in your community. Bob had some great questions that I thought I'd pull out into a new post. His comment is in bold italics.
Sounds very reasonable to me Josh. Let me bait you a bit to see how far you're really willing to go. If Microsoft can't scale internally to meet the need, and it's clear we can't, why should the community be limited to what's hosted on Microsoft servers? Shouldn't we integrate, in whatever loosely coupled way we can, non-Microsoft properties?
We should. We should do what we can to enable both 1st and 3rd party Microsoft communities to be healthy and successful. My post talks mainly about how we can turn our 1st party sites into more like 2nd party. We provide some sponsorship and a platform that integrates well with our tools, but we give control of this over to the community.
Shouldn't reputation engines, for example, cross property bounds?
Ideally yes. Of course we need to first agree what a reputation system means on our own site before we even start the cross industry negotiation of how people can carry their reputation from one venue to another. We could also help here with things like Infocard and web services to pull information out of our communities about people. Also, it sounds to me like you're assuming Community = Forums. What other community types do you feel have value?
How you define "value" is key. If value is "information sharing and collaboration" then blogs, podcasts, screencasts, etc communities are important as well. It could also include a lot of budding communities around code snippets, sample projects, etc. How do you define value in your communities?
How might we support those? Are there opportunities to limit the growth of support focused (as opposed to community focused) forums?
Not sure what you mean here about limiting the growth of support focused communities.
Of course that begs the question of just what constitutes "community", but I suppose it's hard to have a discussion without defining terms.
My definition of the day is that community is what happens when there is a marriage of a platform designed for information sharing and a group of users that work on top of the platform to collaborate and share their information/opinions with each other. I reserve the right to change this on a daily basis. :-)