Requiring Real Names

Real name policies aren’t new. Online communities, social networks and comment sections have attempted to require real names before and many still do. One of them is the CBC, Canada’s 80 year old national radio and public broadcaster.

7 months ago, they began “requiring” people to use their real names to comment online. The CBC’s Sam Lightowler joins the program to share her observations and discuss the viability of requiring real names. Plus:

  • The CBC’s responsibility to facilitate comments, as Canada’s national broadcaster
  • Should non-U.S. organizations be reluctant to hand their community building efforts over to U.S.-based platforms?
  • How being state-owned makes the CBC different from privately-owned media organizations like The New York Times

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The Career Ceiling in Online Community Management

There are probably more senior community jobs than ever before. But many experienced community pros struggle to advance while remaining in the profession, because many organizations fail to prioritize community. This leaves it under department heads who don’t want to scale it and only view it as a low paying role for junior-level people.

Alexandra Dao of Vimeo recently shifted out of a community role, in part due to a desire to advance that she wasn’t seeing in community. As one of the people responsible for We Support, a weekly newsletter for those working on community and support, she also reads many community job postings. For Alex, these experiences have revealed the ceiling of the community management profession, which we discuss on this episode. Plus:

  • How Alex continues to work with community, now in research and customer insights
  • Translating and transitioning your community skills from one department to another
  • The simple ways to begin to experiment with usability testing for your community

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Why (Some) Associations Struggle with Online Communities

Associations are a natural segment of the online community space, because one of the primary objectives of associations has always been connecting likeminded professionals and sharing resources. And yet, according to today’s guest on the show, “most” associations have not yet implemented an online community platform.

Ben Martin has carved out a specialty, helping associations build their online communities. Why are most associations still skipping online community building? And where do associations often struggle when they attempt it? That’s what we discuss on this episode. Plus:

  • Ben’s plans for a Community Manager Appreciation Day livestream
  • The biggest reason that associations fall short in their online community efforts
  • The differences between an association community and a public-facing community

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Happy Holidays!

It’s been a great first year for Community Signal, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of listeners, subscribers, sponsors and those who share the show. Your time is limited and valuable, and you choose to spend it with Community Signal. I’m grateful.

I’d like to take a moment to wish you a happy holiday season and an incredible 2017 – for both you and your communities!

We are going to take a holiday break, and we’ll be back soon. See you then.

Working with Law Enforcement

Steve BrockAs community professionals, we get a zone when it comes to handling problems. We’re so used to fixing issues, that we can forget about outside resources that may be better suited for dealing with an issue than we are. Law enforcement is one of these.

Steve Brock has been working in community for over 25 years, with a unique depth of experience in moderation for big brands. He has had to work with law enforcement many times, and on this episode, Mr. Brock shares stories from those efforts. Plus:

  • What has remained consistent in his career through four company mergers
  • Determining “valid need” with threats of self-harm
  • The implication of Facebook’s patent application for a moderation tool

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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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