Communities are sacred. They imply a level of connection, advocacy and energy on the part of the people who are showing up. You’re incredibly lucky if you have a passionate group of people with a sense of ownership. It’s not a word to bandy about lightly. There’s a difference between opting into true engagement and passive, utilitarian use or inclusion. Aspiring community builders in the startup world frequently forget the importance of agency. They plop unknowing people on a list and start calling them a community. If you’re trying to describe both the average user and the diehard fan in one fell swoop, stop calling it a community. True communities are simply groups of people who keep coming together over what they care about. The most vibrant ones offer members a chance to act on their passions with one another, to contribute to what is being made. If you’re trying to discern whether you have a community on your hands or merely a user-base, ask yourself: Is the group of people integral to realizing the end product or the end impact? And if they’re not, then it’s not a community.