Why Has Clubhouse Been Plagued by Trust and Safety Issues?

If you were building a community product, how would you start? Who would you choose as your first hire? What efforts would you make to ensure that the product is inclusive, safe, and well-moderated?

In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Danielle Maveal to do a deep-dive on audio-first platforms and specifically, Clubhouse. While every platform and community has moderation issues to work through, Clubhouse has made headlines and Twitter rounds for the lax moderation that has brought anti-Semitism, misogyny, and misinformation to the “stage” on the app. In this discussion, Danielle and Patrick discuss how other audio-first platforms have approached trust and safety and what steps they would take to scale the teams, communities, and norms that power them. And while they acknowledge that not every conversation or connection that happens on the platform is bad, they offer a reminder that we can all do something to hold platforms accountable.

The members and the content that we allow on our platforms dictate the culture that permeates in our communities. If there’s one thing that Clubhouse proves, it’s that there is still room for platforms that are built with safety and inclusivity in mind from day one. 

Danielle and Patrick discuss:

  • The current landscape of audio-first communities
  • How they would scale a team and membership base of a community product
  • Why community guidelines, enforcement, and tools matter from day one
Continue reading “Why Has Clubhouse Been Plagued by Trust and Safety Issues?”

Fostering Inclusivity for Neurodivergent Community Members and Colleagues

There are many different categories of diversity and, as community practitioners, continuously learning about them and questioning our assumptions will only help us build more inclusive communities. In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Wesley Faulkner, a DevRel advocate at Daily, who also advocates for neurodiversity.

Wesley and Patrick discuss several ways in which we can build for inclusivity within our products, communities, and teams, all through the lens of specific real-world situations. For example, if we approached writing job descriptions with inclusivity, would terms like “rock star” and “extrovert” still make their way into job descriptions? How can career tracks that account for the different skills and ambitions of the community managers on our teams create more inclusive games, communities, and more? As Wesley says in this conversation, “constraints makes things better. Some people think that if you do accessibility, that you’re restricting the creativity of the medium, but … when you make [things accessible from] the beginning, it actually can make things better for everyone.”

Take the example that Wesley shares about sidewalks. When sidewalks were redesigned to include ramps for people that use wheelchairs, this also made it “easier for people who are running and jogging on the sidewalk, people who had strollers, [and] for little kids so they would trip less.” How can designing your community with inclusion in mind aid your community members and colleagues?  

Patrick and Wesley discuss:

  • Designing for neurodiverse communities
  • Coaching your community members to be positive contributors
  • Managing community managers with different skills and ambitions
Continue reading “Fostering Inclusivity for Neurodivergent Community Members and Colleagues”

Managing a Community of Safety Professionals During a Global Pandemic

This episode marks 5 years of Community Signal! If you tune in, you’ll hear Patrick share a thank you for the incredible guests and collaborators that have helped get us here, in addition to the sponsors and Patreon supporters that have generously supported this work. We’re proud to share the stories and learnings of our peers in the community industry and Patrick, Karn, and myself look forward to speaking to more of you! If you ever have feedback on the show or want to suggest a guest, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop us a line, even if it’s just to let us know that you’re listening.

Around this time last year, the burgeoning online community behind the American Society of Safety Professionals was beginning to discuss COVID-19. As the pandemic made its way across the globe, Ashleigh Brookshaw, the manager of community engagement at the ASSP, adapted to make sure that the community was positioned as a core part of the society’s online experience.

In this discussion, Ashleigh talks us through the launch of ASSP’s online community and how leaders within the ASSP were vital to its construction and launch. By leveraging the experience and insight of the safety professionals that were already members of the society, Ashleigh was able to ensure that the community was easy to use and navigate from a technical perspective and also seeded with content and voices that would welcome a diverse membership. This is a common thread throughout the interview  – the ASSP empowers its leaders and community members to lead much of the programming, discussion, and community moderation. Ashleigh shares the insights and UX considerations that she has implemented to power this community.

Patrick and Ashleigh also discuss:

  • How the ASSP is thinking about the future of the safety profession and why DEI is important to that vision
  • Managing a community of safety experts during a pandemic
  • The code of conduct and motivations that encourage community members to keep conversations professional
Continue reading “Managing a Community of Safety Professionals During a Global Pandemic”

Can We Help These Experienced Community Pros Find Work?

In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick talks to four past guests of the show, Paula Rosenberg, Tim Courtney, Scott Moore, and Daniel Marotta, who are all looking for new full-time career opportunities. We’re hoping that by tapping into the collective power of our listeners, we can help them find their next big thing.

We’ve never done this before, and here’s how you can help: First, we hope that you’ll take the time to hear their stories and the work that they’re proud to have been part of.

After doing so, if you know someone who has an opportunity that matches with their expertise, please connect with them through LinkedIn or reach out to us, and we’ll gladly make a connection. More than just links to job postings or job boards, we are trying to make direct, helpful connections to people who are hiring where one of these pros would be a great fit.

And even if you don’t know someone who is hiring, if you’re willing, we’d love for you to spread the word about this episode. 

With each guest, Patrick dives into the following three questions. Have you reflected on these points recently?

  • How would you summarize your experience?
  • What’s an accomplishment from your career that you’re really proud of?
  • What type of job are you looking for, including title, level, department, industry? Where do you think you’ll be happiest?
Continue reading “Can We Help These Experienced Community Pros Find Work?”

The Community That Teaches Languages and Powers Duolingo

As classrooms have gone virtual and people are spending more time online, Duolingo has seen an influx of students and educators on their platform. Luckily, Duolingo has a structured ambassador program to help those new users find their way and achieve their language learning and teaching goals.

Kevin Reaves, a community support specialist at Duolingo, talks extensively about who these ambassadors are, what motivates them, and how they exhibit ownership in areas from forum moderation to event management, course creation, and more. Their program has thousands of volunteer ambassadors and with that, quality assurance protocols to ensure that everyone is advancing Duolingo’s mission of bringing free language education to the world.

Patrick and Kevin discuss:

  • The structure of Duolingo’s ambassador program
  • How Duolingo empowers and rewards superusers
  • Ensuring quality in community-authored courses
  • Their “dream” community features and tools
Continue reading “The Community That Teaches Languages and Powers Duolingo”

Don’t Miss One-on-One Meetings With Your Team

At this point, we likely all know someone that has lost their job or had to make budget cuts because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a narrative in the community industry that we must always be communicating the value we bring to the organizations we work for, but it’s also worth saying that community has really showed up to fight back against this pandemic. The work of connecting and creating safe spaces for people (think tenant unions, social justice organizations, voter registration and education efforts, community fridges, I could go on!) is more vital than ever.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 53% of Americans say the internet has been an essential tool during the pandemic (with 34% more labeling it important). That means the work of community professionals in creating spaces where people can find value, joy, factual information, and human connection on the internet is so important. So if you’re looking for a job, let us know. And if you’re faced with making budget cuts for your team, reflect on crises you’ve managed and customers you’ve delighted, look to how you’ve grown and developed your team, review the data that points to your efforts, and breathe. You’ve got this.

As our guest Paul Bradley (manager of strategic services at Higher Logic) says during this episode, “if anything, community is what you need to lean into during times of crisis.” Let’s all remember the community of community professionals that we have to lean on during these times –– whether those are others on your team or your friends here on Community Signal.

Here’s a preview of what Patrick and Paul discuss in this episode:

  • Countering budget-cutting arguments
  • Some buy-low investments to consider for your community
  • Being accountable for the professional development of your team
  • Why Paul deleted his Twitter account with over 100k followers when he took his first community job
  • And Karn, our producer, celebrates five years on the Community Signal team!
Continue reading “Don’t Miss One-on-One Meetings With Your Team”

Section 230 and the Freedom to Remove Objectionable Content

Section 230 is a vitally important law for online community builders in the U.S. That’s why we’ve consistently talked about it on Community Signal, and the growing threat to its existence.

The volume of legislation being proposed, that would amend Section 230, is increasingly rapidly with 6 bills proposed in September and October alone. These bills will impact online communities small and large – not just Big Tech.

Whenever new Section 230 altering legislation is proposed, Jess Miers analyzes it. Jess works as a legal policy specialist at Google, while finishing up a law degree, and she joins the show to talk about what’s on the horizon.

Jess and Patrick discuss:

  • Why are legislators so focused on Section 230 right now?
  • Trends from the bills that are on the table
  • Regulators efforts to stop communities from moderating things that aren’t illegal
Continue reading “Section 230 and the Freedom to Remove Objectionable Content”

BlackPlanet’s Founder on Building Impactful Platforms and Communities

“Let the people see what I have seen.”

This is what Mamie Till, the mother of Emmett Till, said when she insisted on an open casket funeral for her brutally murdered son in 1955. Photos of Emmett’s disfigured body circulated and encouraged many to join the civil rights movement.

Darnella Frazier is the teenager that caught George Floyd’s murder on camera and posted it to Facebook. She later stated “that could’ve been one of your loved ones, and you would want to see the truth as well.” As the video circulated, it inspired protests across the country, and George Floyd’s name, image, and story, became a rallying cry against police brutality and systemic racism.

Our guest this week, Prof. Omar Wasow, breaks down the thread between the power of these images even further: “What some of these videos do, what some of these images do, is they allow people who are outside to have a window in, to have a moment of empathy, to walk a few steps in the feet of somebody who might have suffered in some profound way.”

These images clearly have the power to create understanding and power movements. These victims of brutal and heartless crimes become our symbols for change, though we must not forget that they were people, that they were just trying to exist. For example, the protests that erupted after George Floyd’s murder have been twisted into a completely unrelated conspiracy theory by QAnon.

Wasow, the founder of BlackPlanet and a professor whose research focuses on race, politics, and statistical methods, discusses how the internet gives a platform to those who might otherwise not have one, like Darnella Frazier, but also serves as fertile ground for dangerous groups like QAnon. 

Patrick and Omar also discuss:

  • The principles that made BlackPlanet a popular community for Black people of all generations and backgrounds
  • How BlackPlanet and other early social platforms inspired creativity amongst their users
  • The power and importance of documenting and sharing injustice
Continue reading “BlackPlanet’s Founder on Building Impactful Platforms and Communities”

Is Your Open Source Project Healthy?

When you contribute to open source projects, Dawn Foster makes it abundantly clear that even if “you’re there on behalf of [a] company, you need to do the right things for the community.” In this episode of Community Signal, Dawn outlines the principles that she follows and shepherds as the director of open source community strategy at VMware’s Open Source Program Office.

These principles foster projects and communities that are collaborative and encouraging, but of course, it does not always pan out that way. Dawn discusses how documentation and education, having a clear commitment from the company managing the open source project, and balancing for collaboration instead of number of contributions can all help to build healthy open source communities.

Unlike social platforms that optimize for getting everyone to contribute an infinite amount, open source projects rely on spreading knowledge and contributions amongst the group. “In some cases we have open source projects [where] almost all of the contributions are made by a single individual. What happens if that individual wins the lottery and leaves VMware, and doesn’t want to work on this project anymore?” That’s a great question for all of us that manage communities. If our top contributors left tomorrow, who would pull the community forward?

Patrick and Dawn also discuss:

  • Evaluating open source community health
  • The tools and documentation that help with governance
  • Evaluating the risk of contributing to an open source project
Continue reading “Is Your Open Source Project Healthy?”

The Toll of Ageism and Abuse on Community Professionals

On Community Signal, we’ve spoken to several professionals that have left the industry for other pastures. While their reasons are never exactly the same, there’s certainly a trend amongst professionals in the industry, particularly women, who bore the brunt of online abuse.

As Patrick says in this episode, “if you haven’t received abuse then you’re probably not doing everything you can for your community, that’s just a sad reality. I wish that it wasn’t the case. I wish that you could somehow maintain order without making yourself a target.” In a profession where our responsibilities include moderating conversations, deleting posts, and banning people, yes, it’s to be expected that we will make some people unhappy.

But as Patrick and Kellie Parker discuss, it should also be expected that our colleagues and managers understand the realities, toll, and potential dangers of this work and plan for how to support one another through it. The mental and emotional toll of working in community management is real and something that we should all be aware of, no matter what rung of the ladder we’re on.

Kellie shares exactly how the mental and emotional aspects of working in community played out for her, where there must be organizational support, and the responsibility of speaking up for our own health and wellbeing. She now speaks openly and candidly about the sexism that she faced, but back then, she admits that her initial reaction was to “be professional” and power through. For professionals that don’t have institutional support, another coworker to cover for them, or the flexibility to miss a paycheck or take a personal day, the notion of self-care in the face of abuse may not be as easy as it seems. We hope that Kellie’s experience encourages anyone listening to think about how they can better support those that they work with, from an individual perspective and an organizational perspective.

Patrick and Kellie also discuss:

  • The sexism faced by women in gaming and community management
  • How workplaces can support community managers
  • The “magic community wand” and how to work against it
Continue reading “The Toll of Ageism and Abuse on Community Professionals”