When Community Members Block Ads

Todd GarlandMany online communities are ad-supported. Without that revenue, they may have to reduce their operations or cease to exist at all. Ad blocking is a serious threat, but what’s the best way respond to it?

Todd Garland is the founder and CEO of BuySellAds, an ad tech company that I’ve worked with for many years. He says the time to blame ad blockers is over, and that whining about ad blockers only guarantees a bad ending to this story. Plus:

  • How ad quality became so bad, even for reputable players
  • Why native ads are the future
  • Ad behaviors that community managers and operators should watch out for

This is not only episode #50 of the show, but December 7th marks one year since Community Signal launched! Thank you to everyone who has supported our program, including subscribers, our 50 guests, those who have shared it online, people who have rated it on iTunes, Stitcher or other platforms, those who have offered thoughtful feedback or kind words and our sponsors.

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How MetaFilter’s Founder (Successfully) Stepped Away From the Community After 16 Years

Matt HaugheyAfter managing MetaFilter for 16 years, founder Matt Haughey stepped away from the community in 2015, handing the day-to-day operations over to a long time staff member with a small, paid team.

More than a year and a half later, Matt stops by Community Signal to reflect on his decision and how it has impacted the community. The transition of power at MetaFilter is our focus on this episode, including what led Matt to realize that it was time for him to go. Plus:

  • Why MetaFilter charges $5 for new accounts
  • The time that Matt caught Dilbert creator Scott Adams posting anonymously to praise himself
  • What concerns Matt about the consolidation of power in social media platforms

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Ethical Communication Platforms

Marie ConnellyAs we talk about harassment and fake news online, we are often discussing what responsibility platforms have in the matter. What should they do? What shouldn’t they?

What does it mean to build an ethical platform? On this episode, with Marie Connelly of Vox Media’s product team, we talk about how algorithms aren’t a simple answer, why we should treat spam like we treat harassment and the cost of thoughtlessness. Plus:

  • What Marie did that caused lurkers to raise their hands
  • Community as education
  • Baking community engagement into products

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We’ll Be Back Next Week (and a Thought About the U.S. Elections)

Thank you for listening to Community Signal. Unfortunately, we are going to take a week off and we’ll be back next week. Sorry for the break. It was a difficult week to find a guest, and I’m sure that wasn’t helped by the elections in the U.S.

To that end, I had a thought I wanted to share with you, a thought I’ve shared before, but is once again relevant to where we are – not just in the United States, but in the world.

I truly believe that well-managed online communities represent the best, possibly last chance for enlightened, thoughtful political discourse on the web. A community with fair ground rules where people can participate on even footing and discuss the issues at hand – that’s what we can provide. Our colleagues in the news media space are doing this work, and many of us manage communities and spaces where this occurs. Discussion and conversation is one of the ways that we can bridge the gap.

When people talk about how civility is dead and how both sides are too extreme to talk to one another, that’s a problem we can help with. It’s a problem we’ve dealt with and, in many cases, solved in our own communities. These are skills that we can use to help our countries and the global community. This is an area where we can be a part of the solution.

How Libraries Build Safe, Inclusive Community Spaces

David Lee KingCommunity is at the core of the existence of public libraries. They’re an important hub for local communities and, in turn, become a community of their own, where people learn and share.

Many libraries are safe, inclusive spaces where diversity is on display. If you are new to the area, or even to the country, libraries help you connect with your new community. If you are a member of a marginalized group, libraries can provide vital support. If you have a disability, libraries offer access to tools and services that improve your quality of life.

How do libraries create those spaces? That’s what I’m talking about with David Lee King, the digital services director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, and a recognized leader in the use of emerging technology for libraries. Plus:

  • What is a digital library branch?
  • How the library’s online efforts are impacted by seeing so many of their patrons face-to-face
  • What online community pros can learn from libraries

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The Skill of Empathy

Lindsay StarkeI recently spoke to a class at Syracuse about online community, and one of the students asked me what the two most important traits for a community professional were. I named empathy and attention to detail. The first one is the focus of this episode.

It’s hard to imagine a great community professional lacking empathy. And yet, it’s a skill that’s worth talking about, understanding and refining. Higher Logic community manager Lindsay Starke is passionate about empathy and the impact it can have on your community and your business. Plus:

  • Why Lindsay cares about the history of our profession
  • What feature she’d like to see Higher Logic add to their software
  • Can empathy be taught?

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How Pearson’s Internal Online Community Connects 36,000 Employees in 70+ Countries

dina-vekariaSix years ago, multinational publishing and education company Pearson transitioned from siloed intranets to an internal online community named Neo. This platform has encouraged active collaboration between their global network of 36,000 employees, spread across more than 70 countries.

When you are talking about such a large, diverse group of employees, part of bringing them together is figuring how to to divide them, to ensure they are connecting with the right people and accomplishing their goals. Pearson community manager Dina Vekaria joins the show to break down these efforts, including:

  • Using gamification without getting in the way of work being done
  • How internal communities help retain employee knowledge – after employees move on
  • Are internal communities the next step in the progression of the intranet?

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The Howard Rheingold Episode

Howard RheingoldI’m a big believer in knowing where you come from. Online community is not new. Our profession has existed since the 1980s. People came before us, and I believe that it’s important to understand, acknowledge and appreciate that. We should value and respect those who did the work before we did.

Any conversation about online community pioneers must involve today’s guest. Howard Rheingold was an early, active member of The WELL, the highly influential online community, founded in 1985. He is credited with coining the term, “virtual community,” and Mr. Rheingold’s experiences with online communities led him to author the book, The Virtual Community, published in 1993. His work has influenced generations of community builders. We discuss:

  • The essential digital literacy all web users must have
  • What still excites him about online community in 2016
  • Why it took 5 years to find a publisher for The Virtual Community

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How The Guardian Prepared for Brexit’s Impact on Community Engagement

Mary HamiltonWhen the results of the Brexit referendum were announced, the people of the United Kingdom reacted immediately online. Many of them chose The Guardian’s website as their venue, sharing their thoughts with the readers of one of country’s most popular news outlets.

When a highly-charged political issue like this comes to pass, I always think about my friends and peers who work community in the media, and the challenges they must be facing. If you want to talk about Brexit’s impact on comments, community and moderation, there is perhaps no one better to speak with than Mary Hamilton, executive editor for audience at The Guardian. She joins me to discuss the preparation and the impact, plus:

  • What Mary learned from building local audience teams in Australia and the U.S.
  • The ROI of on-site community for The Guardian
  • Are online comments of historical significance?

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Bringing Respect to a Like Fight

Talia StroudWhat makes great online discourse? That’s what the Engaging News Project routinely tries to determine. Though their work focuses on news media, the resulting research is often just as helpful to the average community professional.

Director Talia Stroud, associate professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin, joins me on this episode to discuss the obstacles that can prevent comment sections from being great, and offer straightforward recommendations for how you can make them better. Our topics include:

  • Inspiring thoughtful discourse when polarizing conversation leads to more buzz
  • Talia’s thoughts on traditional media sites removing their comment sections
  • Why you should add a respect button to your community content right now

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