Medical Research in Online Communities

Amrita BhowmickAs health care and pharmaceutical companies aim to better understand specific medical conditions, they are turning to online communities of engaged patients, to conduct research and recruit for clinical trials.

Listener Jenn Lebowitz suggested that we try a Q&A episode, so we’re doing it! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer on the air, please submit them!

Health Union is at the center of these efforts. Their business is managing a collection of communities, each focused on a different medical condition. They generate revenue by connecting companies with the people in their communities – the patients those companies want to serve. This episode features a deep drive into these programs with chief community officer Amrita Bhowmick. Plus:

  • Why health care companies are choosing to work with online communities
  • What does the community get out of participating in research?
  • How Health Union seperates community from sales to avoid a conflict of interest

Continue reading “Medical Research in Online Communities”

The Power of Explanation and the Curse of Knowledge

Lee LeFeverThe ability to communicate clearly is so important for community professionals. We say this a lot, but we rarely break it down much beyond that. What we really mean is that you have to be able to explain things. Explanation is a skill.

How you explain something is as important as what you’re explaining. It impacts how well your message is understood and whether or not people will be supportive of it. Quality explanations make your life easier. Poor explanations make it harder.

When I need help explaining something, I turn to Lee LeFever, a pioneer in online explainer space as the founder of Common Craft. They have helped Google, Intel, LEGO, Ford, Twitter and others explain their products to the world. What many don’t know is that Common Craft was actually started as an online community consultant and Lee has a great background in the community space. We discuss:

  • Why you should create explainer videos for your community
  • How to explain changes and problems
  • The reasons that explanations fail

Continue reading “The Power of Explanation and the Curse of Knowledge”

How Companies Can Ethically Engage on Reddit

David DiGiovanniReddit is an online community, possibly best described as a series of smaller ones, much like independent niche online communities. One subreddit (or section of Reddit) can be completely different from another.

But just like other niche online communities, these subreddits can be very beneficial to businesses – if they participate in the right way. If you’re sloppy or fail to account for the community norms, you could do substantial damage to your reputation. This episode features David DiGiovanni. He helps companies and individuals tap into the power of Reddit in an ethical way. Plus:

  • How to host a successful Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)
  • Should companies launch and manage their own subreddits?
  • What tactics does the Reddit community frown upon?

Continue reading “How Companies Can Ethically Engage on Reddit”

Association Management = Community Management?

Katie BappleMembership-based associations have existed for a long time. Certainly before the internet and before online communities. But as online communities have grown in prominence, the association model has shifted to embrace them, mirroring the offline communities that they were already building.

Katie Bapple is the senior director of community management at Socious, a company that makes community software for associations. On this episode, we dive into the association niche of the online community space, including:

  • The career opportunity that associations represent for community professionals
  • How associations are adapting to the online community model for survival
  • Should every association have an online community?

Continue reading “Association Management = Community Management?”

Planning a Community Redesign (After Having the Same Design for More Than a Decade)

Chris BowyerIt can be a big challenge to redesign an online community. Our members visit on a regular basis, and they become accustomed to how things look and where they’re located. To the point where they can become resistant to change.

Chris Bowyer has managed MovieForums.com for almost 16 years. After using the same design for more than a decade, they launched a comprehensive redesign that the community embraced. On this episode, we walk through the steps he took to achieve a successful launch and the unique experiences you gain when you manage a community for so long, plus:

  • Could you see yourself managing the same community for 30 years?
  • The right way to do self-moderation
  • Community culture and how quickly it forms

Continue reading “Planning a Community Redesign (After Having the Same Design for More Than a Decade)”

Abusive Lawsuits Can Silence Your Community (Even if You’ve Done Nothing Wrong)

Eric GoldmanAbusive lawsuits and legal maneuvers threaten our communities and our members by silencing them under the weight of excessive litigation and costly attorney’s fees.

If a member of your community criticizes a company, and that company doesn’t like it, they can sue you or your member. Even if you are completely in the right, your finances can be drained as you work to defend yourself. For this reason, many community professionals simply opt to fold to demands and remove the content, even if it would otherwise be acceptable.

Our guest is Eric Goldman, a professor of law at the Santa Clara University School of Law. His focus is internet law and he is part of a group working to pass federal legislation that will make it harder for these speech-chilling lawsuits to be successful. Plus:

  • How companies are contractually supressing consumer reviews
  • The most crucial piece of legislation for U.S.-based community professionals
  • Understanding the difference between your terms of service and your community guidelines

Continue reading “Abusive Lawsuits Can Silence Your Community (Even if You’ve Done Nothing Wrong)”

How the Washington Post Builds Community

Greg BarberThe Washington Post received 12 million comments last year. They believe in community, in engaging with readers where they are – and in moderation. They have collaborated with the New York Times and Mozilla to create the Coral Project, an effort aimed at developing open source tools and resources that help publishers build better communities.

Greg Barber is a 13 year veteran of the Post, currently the director of digital news projects, where he focuses on interactivity, personalization and alternative storytelling. This episode focuses on community at the Post, plus:

  • Using community data and history to identify great contributors – and harmful ones
  • The limits of self-moderation
  • Why news organizations look “like a repair person who only uses a hammer,” in how they approach online discussions

Continue reading “How the Washington Post Builds Community”

Facebook Doesn’t Have the Moderation Tools of Forums in 2000

Alison MichalkLast week, the European Commission announced that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft had agreed to take a stronger stance on illegal hate speech. These platforms have their work cut out for them and at least part of that work has been created by their own actions previously.

Moderation veteran Alison Michalk, CEO and founder of community management agency Quipp, joins me on this episode to talk about Facebook’s approach to moderation. Plus:

  • Convincing executives to run companies like communities
  • The legal climate for community builders in Australia
  • How the music industry’s street team promotion model translated to the internet

Continue reading “Facebook Doesn’t Have the Moderation Tools of Forums in 2000”

Building a Business in an Open Source Community

Brad WilliamsWordPress powers more than 25% of the web. It’s open source software, driven by community contributions. But it’s also big business, with many companies generating millions of dollars in revenue by offering products and services that cater to people and organizations who use it.

How is building a business around an open source product, with a strong community, different from a more traditional kind of business? What expectations does the community have? WebDevStudios is a 34-person agency that does nothing but WordPress. Brad Williams, their CEO and co-founder, is the guest on this episode. Plus:

  • What good developer relations look like for WordPress
  • Why every WebDevStudios employee dedicates at least 2 paid hours every week giving back to WordPress
  • How the community benefits directly from WebDevStudios client work

Continue reading “Building a Business in an Open Source Community”

20 Years Since This Community Software Was Released

Rosemary O'NeillTwenty years ago, this month, Ultimate Bulletin Board was released. You may not know the name, but this early community software introduced or popularized numerous conventions that we now simply take for granted.

UBB wasn’t just on the market before practically any community platform available today, they were among the very first web-based community platforms available, following the days of BBS and the closed network of AOL. Rosemary O’Neill co-founded Social Strata and, once upon a time, they developed UBB. We get into the history of the project, plus:

  • How UBB might have invented emojis
  • The evolution of community software
  • Why people are returning to more focused, niche communities

Continue reading “20 Years Since This Community Software Was Released”