I should start off by noting that I am absolutely no expert in building online communities. I hate myspace. I pretend I hate it because of how much I hate giving Rupert Murdoch money, but really it's because it's way too much for me, in that old-man curmudgeonly sort of way. I never even got into LiveJournal, with the communities there. And there are likely innumerable other ways of forming communities online that I'm not even aware of. Even more to the point of this post, I've basically failed in my personal attempts to create a groupblog out of Feminist Allies, after several go-rounds.
That said, I'll be really interested to see what happens over at feministing, when they make some intricate changes to their format, allowing others to create blogs (or 'diaries') under the feministing label. It looks really interesting, and they're doing some fundraising to support the upgrading, so if you like to support those great women over there, I encourage you to go check it out and donate.
I'm trying to take a wait-and-see attitude. They note that the new site will have diaries 'like DailyKos', which I think is an unfortunate comparison, since one of the things I don't like about DailyKos is the way in which the format of that site has allowed the marginalization of feminists from the discussion, at times. Feministing's site may well solve some of the problems around marginalization, and given the neato-ness of the women who run it, I have high hopes. And yet, there's something else I don't like about the 'diarist' format, a la DailyKos and the like--it reminds me of a kind of informational pyramid scheme, where a small group of people reap rewards from lots of other people's writing. And then there's the whole notion that something has to be 'branded' (in this case, helping to create feministing as a brand of feminism) in order for it to have more value, which squicks me somewhat (says the guy whose blog doesn't even have a proper banner).
On the other hand, such criticism is really silly before I see what happens in this particular case. It may be that a wonderfully informative site becomes even more informative, and more of a community.
Wait and see. Wait and see.