Cultural Anthropology and Online Communities

“The branch of anthropology concerned with the study of human societies and cultures and their development.” That’s cultural anthropology, per Oxford.

Elizabeth Koenig has a degree in cultural anthropology. She’s also an account manager at The Social Element (formerly Emoderation), where she manages teams of moderators and community engagement specialists that scale based upon client needs. We talk about how cultural anthropology applies to online communities. Plus:

  • What happens when companies rely on automated moderation too much
  • How to motivate community pros to invest in client communities when they don’t choose the clients
  • Why The Social Element, a company powered by a remote workforce, has a strong workplace community

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Moving the News Industry From Clickbait to Community

According to our guest on this episode, much of the news industry is engaged in a battle they can’t win, a fight over eyeballs and ad revenue with companies like Google and Facebook, where the terms will get worse and worse as time goes by.

The answer? Community. By building a community that values the work that they create, they can wrestle back some of the control over their audience and receive support directly from the people who consume and appreciate the product they are creating.

Andrew Losowsky is the project lead of The Coral Project, a collaboration between Mozilla, The New York Times and The Washington Post, that is helping news organizations build better communities and more loyal readers through tools, research and strategy. Among our topics:

  • Forcing a layer of community over traditional journalism vs. providing newsrooms with a cogent plan
  • Why they are building Talk, an open source comments platform
  • Are news organizations better served by hiring another reporter… or a community pro?

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How to Transition a Community Team After You Acquire Their Company

One of the reasons that companies get acquired is because of the community they have. The loyal customers, the active members, the people that are directly tied to the revenue that the company generates. When a company with a strong community is acquired, what should the new company do with their community team?

Paula Rosenberg joined VHX, a service that allows you to create your own Netflix-style streaming subscription service, in 2015. A year later, they were acquired by Vimeo and, a year after that, Paula joins the show to talk about what Vimeo did right, in transitioning the VHX community team. Plus:

  • The impact of community tools on subscription retention
  • How Paula got her start by launching a community for students, as a student advisor
  • Conducting seller research and how VHX spreads those insights throughout the company

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Moderating Live Video

Last month, a man used Facebook’s live video feature to confess to a murder, shortly after videos were uploaded that showed him announcing his intent and committing the act. Facebook broke down the timeline of this series of videos, revealing that they had suspended the person’s account in approximately 2 hours or less, saying “we need to do better.”

But what is a reasonable expectation for the public, when it comes to people who use live video to gain attention for their violent acts, against themselves or others? Heather Merrick, community experience manager at group video chat service Airtime, joins the show to discuss. Plus:

  • How allowing users to switch video chats from public to private, and back, complicates community management efforts
  • What happened when Tumblr switched replies off on their platform
  • Unethical behavior and the implications of getting caught

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The ROI of an Anonymous, Nonprofit, Mental Health Community

SANE Australia is a charity that helps Australians affected by mental illness. Their popular online community, SANE Forums, serves as one of their primary initiatives. It isn’t just SANE Australia’s community, but the online community of 51 partner organizations, as well.

When they seek funding (from the Australian government and others), they have the prove their value and show their ROI. But what’s the ROI of an anonymous, nonprofit, mental health forum? That is one the challenges facing online community manager Nicole Thomas. Plus:

  • How the 51 different partner organizations contribute to the community
  • Scaling the SANE Forums volunteer program
  • The benefits of allowing people with mental illness to see the discussions of those who care for others with mental illness

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Happy Easter and Passover!

Thank you for your interest in Community Signal. Unfortunately, we won’t have a new episode this week, but we should be back next Monday. I hope that you had a nice Easter and/or are having a nice Passover, if you celebrate one or both!

In the mean time, please check out our top 5 most popular episodes of the first quarter of 2017, if you haven’t listened to them already!

  1. The Career Ceiling in Online Community Management
  2. Requiring Real Names
  3. IMDb’s Message Boards and Why Trolls Don’t Force Communities to Close
  4. Closing Your Community Right
  5. The (Experienced) Community Manager Job Hunt

I appreciate your patience and understanding. Thank you for listening.

Patrick

Why Do People Love NASA?

I define community in two ways: 1. Community on a specific platform, like a Facebook group or a forum. 2. Community that connects around a topic, interest or pursuit in a decentralized way, across multiple platforms.

Disney, Coca-Cola and NASA are good examples of organizations that are fortunate to have the second. There are many people who love NASA and the work they have done, and will gleefully talk about it with other NASA fans, while at the same time, they may never play in any NASA-managed sandboxes.

Marc Siegel, who has worked in community for tech startups and established players like IBM, Intuit and eBay, spent more than a decade at NASA, including a substantial portion in evangelism. Why do people love NASA? Plus:

  • The challenge of privacy guidelines
  • Why viral coefficient/K value is an important metric for startups
  • Appreciating your community when it’s small

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Improv for Community Pros

When you think “improv,” you might picture a group of comedians at a local club, riffing on audience suggestions. But the skills of improvisation – active listening, adaptability and problem solving, among them – are skills that aide successful community professionals.

Zach Ward is the longtime owner of DSI Comedy, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based comedy theater school where they perform improv and teach the art of comedy. For well over a decade, he’s been teaching these skills to corporate clients like Proctor & Gamble, GSK, Old Navy and Cisco. On this episode, we identify areas where improv can help community pros, including:

  • How active listening applies to words on a computer screen
  • Turning difficult members into valued contributors
  • Creating an environment where people feel comfortable being honest

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Making Room for Newbs in Competitive Gaming

Gaming is a vertical that has a massive footprint in the online community space. Gamers took to online communities really early, and have been using online tools to connect for as long as pretty much anyone else.

But gaming communities aren’t always known for being the most thoughtful. That’s what Gabe Graziani, senior community developer at gaming giant Ubisoft, hopes to see in the communities he works with. After spending six years building out the Assassin’s Creed community, Gabe is now working on Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, a title that features a much more competitive community.

How does that affect the age-old community problem of making new members – or, as a stereotyped gamer might say, newbs – feel welcome? Plus:

  • Ubisoft’s community structure
  • The community leader approach to measuring the value of community
  • Inclusivity through removal

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Closing Your Community Right

Jessamyn West is a member of mlkshk, an online community that’s closing. She’s part of a community-led effort to build the next place where this group of people will get together.

Best known for her work in the library space, she’s also an experienced online community practitioner, having spent 10 years on staff at MetaFilter, leaving as director of operations. Building on our recent discussions about the thoughtful way to close a community, we look at mlkshk as an example of a group that has done it right. Plus:

  • The differences and similarities between dying and being banned from an online community
  • Why it’s easy for community members to love new ideas, but hard to get them to commit to helping make them real
  • The disconnect between wanting to be a moderator and actually being good at it

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