Building a Financially Self-Sustaining Community of Muslamic Makers

In addition to practicing community management as a profession, many of the listeners, guests, and even members of the team behind Community Signal, manage communities part-time. These might be communities that align with our personal passions or hobbies or communities that exist specifically to help ourselves and others grow. That is exactly the mission of Muslamic Makers. Co-founded by Arfah Farooq, who joins us for this episode, Muslamic Makers is a community of Muslim changemakers who work in the tech industry.

This April marks the fifth birthday of Muslamic Makers and Arfah discusses how the community has grown during that time and how she sees it growing into the future. Muslamic Makers takes pride in offering thoughtful programming that is largely free to its community, and Arfah shares how she and her team are thoughtfully working to keep it that way. Tech companies want access to diverse communities when it comes to hiring and in exchange for sponsorship opportunities, the Muslamic Makers community offers them just that. Arfah also discusses the importance of documenting the processes that keep the community running, so that the community can continue running, whether she’s managing the day-to-day or not. It’s always refreshing to hear that the practices that keep our “professional” communities healthy and well-managed are the same practices that we should try applying to our own personal communities, too.

Arfah and Patrick also discuss:

  • Keeping a community independent, self-sustaining, and affordable to its members
  • Adapting and enforcing your community’s Code of Conduct as you grow
  • How the pandemic has helped the Muslamic Makers community grow beyond its roots in London

This episode is the first that we’ve released since the devastating shooting that left eight people in Atlanta dead, including six Asian women. Their names were Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, and Xiaojie Tan. The other two people who were killed were Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels. One man, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, was seriously injured. As a team, we’ve reflected on how our work in communities matters when it comes to stopping hate. As Patrick says in this episode, “when we educate ourselves about what anti-Asian hatred looks like and we take action against it, we are part of the solution.”

Continue reading “Building a Financially Self-Sustaining Community of Muslamic Makers”

Holding Communities for Community Professionals to a Higher Standard

The field of community management is buzzing. We have more tools available to us than ever before and an abundance of communities and resources to connect us with fellow professionals who know our work and want to share knowledge. But what goes into creating inclusive, diverse, and truly open and welcoming spaces for community professionals? Who is given a platform to share knowledge?

In this conversation with Faisa Mohamed, co-founder of Somalis in Tech, we broach this topic and how Faisa and her team approached launching Somali Women in Tech. On paper, the approach may sound simple –– Faisa made sure that that the Somalis in Tech team was onboard with the mission and purpose of Somali Women in Tech. “If you ask the other team members what Somali Women in Tech is, including the male members who are not in this group, they’re going to know exactly what it is and can tell you exactly what it is because they are fully aware of it.” (Head to 25:06 to pick up at this part of the conversation.) But in practice, we’ve seen that’s not a priority for all communities. In the case of Somali Women in Tech, Faisa provides an example of how building community with diversity, equity, and inclusion as important values from day one leads to more successful communities, both from an internal and external perspective.

So –– how are you creating space and opportunity for others in the community industry? To what standards do you hold the communities that you build and that you’re part of? We’re always interested in hearing from you, so if there’s something you’ve tried or learned from recently, let us know. 

Faisa and Patrick also discuss:

  • Reading between the lines of community job descriptions
  • Gatekeeping in the community management industry
  • Being “intentional” in inclusion efforts
Continue reading “Holding Communities for Community Professionals to a Higher Standard”

Facebook’s Australian News Ban Will Lead to Even More Misinformation

What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t share any news articles on Facebook? How would that impact the communities that you manage or the way you share information with family and friends? What if this ban included  information provided by emergency services agencies for things like natural disasters, wildfires, and domestic violence? This situation is not a hypothetical one for Australian users of Facebook. Just last week, after Facebook failed to make an agreement to pay Australian news organizations for linking to their content, the company issued a ban that prevents sharing Australian or international news content on the platform.

In this episode, Patrick talks to Dr. Jennifer Beckett, a lecturer in media and communications at the University of Melbourne, about the immediate ramifications that this has had and what it might mean for communities on Facebook moving forward.

Dr. Beckett’s work also has a focus in the mental health of digital workers, given the prevalence of moderation-related work, no matter what the job title. As our field expands, Dr. Beckett points to the need for visibility and protection for the people who do this work.

Dr. Beckett and Patrick discuss:

  • The well-being of content moderators and what some organizations are doing to protect their well-being
  • The legal environment for community builders in Australia
  • The need for better communication about the “toxicity” of communities
Continue reading “Facebook’s Australian News Ban Will Lead to Even More Misinformation”

Traumatic Weather Events and Climate Change Denial at Weather Underground

What are the topics of discussion that you would expect to come across in a weather community? Storms, climate change, and forecast accuracy are part of the conversation.

As a community strategist at Weather Underground, Michelle Schlachta also encountered stories of people that experienced traumatic weather-related events and sought the community out for education and healing. Those are connections and healing that you can’t build through Google results or a weather forecast app. Patrick and Michelle discuss how Weather Underground provided a platform for weather experts through its blogging community and how new members with questions and less expertise about weather were welcomed into the community.

In addition to sharing her experiences at Weather Underground, Splunk, and YouTube –– Michelle discusses something that a lot of us can probably relate to right now –– the isolation of working from home during the pandemic. There are no quick solutions for that but she does offer a reminder that “we’re all going through it together.” If you’d like to share how you’re coping with the isolation of the pandemic, please leave us a comment or write to us.

Michelle and Patrick discuss:

  • How veteran members help enforce community guidelines and conversation norms
  • Communicating change to our communities
  • Sensitivity around dramatic weather events that can lead to the loss of life
Continue reading “Traumatic Weather Events and Climate Change Denial at Weather Underground”

Rewarding the Local Guides That Make Google Maps More Useful

If you have ever used Google to look up a restaurant you wanted to eat at or to research before visiting someplace new to you, you’ve probably depended on information contributed by a Local Guide. Traci Cappiello is the program manager at Google that makes sure those Local Guides feel engaged and empowered to provide helpful information to the world.

With 100 million people who have contributed through the Local Guides initiative, Traci and her 12 member team focus on the one-to-many interactions that happen on Local Guides Connect, the dedicated community space for those contributors. That includes creating online and in-person experiences that reward, uplift, and encourage the Local Guides. Traci shares the team’s approach to this work and some of the checks and balances in place to make sure that all of the content shared by Local Guides is trustworthy and accurate. 

Traci and Patrick discuss:

  • How the Local Guides met the challenge of sharing accessibility information on Google
  • The tools and teammates that support the Local Guide community
  • What’s the difference between a Local Guide and just someone posting reviews on Google?
Continue reading “Rewarding the Local Guides That Make Google Maps More Useful”

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”