Breaking: Online Community Consultant Discovers Brand New Concept (Again!)

Online community consultants aren’t unlike consultants for any other area of work. Some are ethical, smart, and talented, and some aren’t. Consultants also don’t often make great guests for the show because they view it as yet another lead generational funnel for them to shout generalities into.

But hopefully an exception is this episode with community consultant Jenny Weigle. On it, we discuss how being humble is often at odds with how many consultants promote themselves, as they place a certain importance on appearing authoritative and revelatory, even if that isn’t actually correct in the context of the history of this work.

Can you even be a community consultant or an online community resource if you haven’t taken a concept pioneered 30 years ago and thrown your logo on it?

We also discuss:

Continue reading “Breaking: Online Community Consultant Discovers Brand New Concept (Again!)”

Kinks vs. Crimes and Gender-Inclusive Content Moderation at Grindr

Bodies aren’t moderated equally on the internet. Content moderation efforts, especially those at large, mainstream platforms, can suffer from policy-based bias that results in moderation centering a cisgender gaze. This reinforcing of heteronormativity can leave some of your most vulnerable community members – and potential community members – feeling alienated, ostracized, and simply unwelcome.

Last year, in her role as CX escalations supervisor at Grindr, Vanity Brown co-authored a whitepaper, Best Practices for Gender-Inclusive Content Moderation. Insightful, with a straight forward approach to making content moderation just a bit better, I found that it was also a validation of good, thoughtful moderation that has been going on for a long time.

Vanity joins the show to talk about these efforts, which are tempered by a realistic acknowledgement of the limitations of this work, and how our need to be in other places (like app stores) can often slow down the progress we’d like to make.

We also discuss:

  • Why it’s not our job to guess the gender of our members
  • The state of AI trust and safety tools
  • ChatGPT, Midjourney, and how much to worry about them
Continue reading “Kinks vs. Crimes and Gender-Inclusive Content Moderation at Grindr”

Safeguarding a Diabetes Charity Community and Knowing if You’ve Done the Right Thing

Safeguarding is a term used in Ireland and the United Kingdom that covers efforts to protect the health, wellbeing, and human rights of people, especially children and those who are otherwise vulnerable.

At Diabetes UK, four people alternate by week as the safeguarding lead, helping to protect those that the charity comes in contact with. One of them is Josh Poncil, the online community and learning manager. Among his responsibilities is Diabetes UK’s online forum.

On this episode, we talk about safeguarding and knowing if you’ve done the right thing at the end of the day, plus:

  • What is considered “too technical” for the average member to answer in a diabetes community?
  • How Josh writes for a vulnerable audience
  • Moderation decisions that could trigger a meltdown
Continue reading “Safeguarding a Diabetes Charity Community and Knowing if You’ve Done the Right Thing”

Empowering Employee Resource Group Leaders With Your Internal Community Platform

Lori Harrison-Smith

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can do a lot to create a greater sense of belonging at your organization. But the folks who volunteer to lead these groups may find themselves in need of help when it comes to utilizing perhaps the greatest tool at their disposal: Your internal employee community platform.

As a community strategist within large organizations, Lori Harrison-Smith has trained employees to help them get the most out of these platforms.

She has also managed two large migrations, both from Jive, and that has led her to have a (in her words) cynical perspective on the resources made available for these migrations, by both companies and the software vendors themselves.

Lori and Patrick discuss:

  • Doing something for an employee vs. showing them how to do it themselves
  • How much the ERG leaders she’s worked with have dipped into moderation
  • The short timeframes given to internal community migrations
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The Chief Community Officer Hype Machine

Jared SmithPatrick O'Keefe

As we celebrate Community Signal’s 7th birthday, Patrick takes questions from Community Signal listeners and supporters in this first ever “Ask Patrick Anything” episode of the show.

Questions include:

  • If everything had worked with CNN+, what would community look like for the platform?
  • Would you rather be a working community professional or a community consultant?
  • Will we ever see community leaders in the C-suite as the norm?

2023 will be Patrick’s 25th year of community work, so this is an opportunity to reflect on that passage of time. A lot has changed and, surprisingly, some things haven’t.

Joining Patrick to ask the questions and dig deeper is previous guest Jared Smith. They also cover:

  • The early promise of CNN+’s Interview Club
  • How community moderation tools have changed over the years
  • Why community isn’t special when it comes to the C-suite
Continue reading “The Chief Community Officer Hype Machine”

Elon Musk’s Quest to Make Twitter Worse

Ralph SpencerOmar Wasow Sarah Roberts

Elon Musk’s presence has loomed over Twitter since he announced plans to purchase the platform. And for these few weeks that he’s been in charge, many concerns have proven to be justified. Musk laid off 3,700 employees, and then 4,400 contractors. He is firing those who are critical of him. The verification process, perhaps one of Twitter’s most trusted features, has been unraveled. He’s offered severance to those who don’t want to be part of “extremely hardcore” Twitter. Following the results of a Twitter poll, he reinstated the account of Donald Trump, who was suspended from the platform for his role in inciting the January 6th attacks.

So, what happens now? What of the many social movements that manifested on Twitter? While some movements and followings may see new manifestations on other platforms, not everything will be completely recreated. For example, as writer Jason Parham explains, “whatever the destination, Black Twitter will be increasingly difficult to recreate.”

In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick speaks to three experts: Sarah T. Roberts, associate professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, trust and safety consultant Ralph Spencer, and Omar Wasow, assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Political Science and co-founder of BlackPlanet, about the current state and future of Twitter. They dissect the realities facing the platform today including content moderation, loss of institutional knowledge, and uncertainty about Twitter’s infrastructure, but also emphasize the importance of Twitter as a social utility for news and more.

This episode also touches on:

  • The reality of moderating a platform like Twitter
  • What platforms actually mean when they say they’re for “free speech”
  • How Musk tanked the value of verification on Twitter
Continue reading “Elon Musk’s Quest to Make Twitter Worse”

When Community is on 3 Teams in 5 Years

As Zendesk’s customer base and product offerings have grown, so has its community. The Zendesk community started in 2008, under the support organization, as a space for people to ask and answer questions about using the product. Since then, it has shifted departments multiple times, leading to changes in KPIs and core purpose.

Nicole Saunders, the company’s director of community, joins the show to explain how she has navigated these challenges. Tune in for her approach on thoughtfully managing change and expectations within your community and inside of your organization.

Patrick and Nicole also discuss:

  • Why the comments are open on Zendesk’s knowledge base articles
  • You can’t tell people to contact support in Zendesk’s community
  • Handing some conversations in the community off to other teams
Continue reading “When Community is on 3 Teams in 5 Years”

Why Community on the Product Team Works, From a Product Leader’s Perspective

Recently, community pro Danielle Maveal joined Community Signal to discuss her experiences reporting into the product organization at Burb. In this episode, we’re getting the opposite perspective from product leader Gitesh Gohel.

Gitesh and Patrick worked together at CNN, where community reported into product. And while the product and community that they were building were short lived, they both speak highly of their time working together. Gitesh describes creating a team atmosphere where each individual’s expertise was respected and given room to ladder into organizational goals, giving each person the opportunity to see the impact of their work. Patrick shares how this fostered trust in processes and created great experiences for the community and the brand.

If you’re debating a community role that reports into product, this conversation will give you insight into how that can be productive when the team has a strong foundation.

Patrick and Gitesh also discuss:

  • Gitesh’s first experience managing community pros as a product leader
  • Why community pros should be excited about reporting into product
  • The successes and promise of CNN+’s Interview Club
Continue reading “Why Community on the Product Team Works, From a Product Leader’s Perspective”

Lessons in Building Safe, Inclusive, and Functional Spaces for LGBTQ+ Folks

If you’re wondering how you can more actively foster safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ folks in your online community, there’s precedent to learn and borrow from. In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Samantha “Venia” Logan, the CEO and founder of Socially Constructed. Venia shares lessons from her decade of experience building community for LGBTQ+ individuals, which started when she began sharing her transition journey on YouTube. 

Patrick and Venia discuss tools, policies, and practices that can help build queer friendly spaces over time. For example, how easy is it for someone to edit their profile information within your online community? What specific policies do you have in place to protect LGTBQ+ people? And a big one – how are others in your organization (outside of the community team) contributing to diversity and inclusion?

At this point you might be asking, “how do I measure or communicate progress?” To this we ask, what are community-based outcomes that indicate someone feels safe contributing and like they belong? As Venia explains (15:23): “As a person feels more and more comfortable self-disclosing, they’re going to use more organic language, they’re going to talk a lot more, their rate of inclusion is going to increase, but so will the length of their posts.” Work with your community to figure out which behaviors relate to their sense of inclusion and measure those over time.

Patrick and Venia also discuss:

  • Making pronouns part of everyday conversations
  • Twitter’s policies and handling of a recent high-profile deadnaming case
  • Being intentional about your metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Continue reading “Lessons in Building Safe, Inclusive, and Functional Spaces for LGBTQ+ Folks”

The Pros and Cons of Community Reporting to Product

Which team or leader does your community organization report into? And which would you like it to? Community teams can be successful as independent pillars or as part of other verticals, like product, ops, or marketing. In this episode of Community Signal, Danielle Maveal, the CCO (chief community officer) at Burb, shares how community professionals can be successful within a team’s product organization.

All reporting structures have their pros and cons, but product and community share the job of “deeply understand[ing] what the user wants and what their motivations are, and how to get them from point A to point B (2:17).” With a shared mandate, community and product teams that effectively partner can expand each other’s influence and success.

No matter what team you report into, creating a foundation in which all teams have respect for each other’s knowledge, experience, and processes is critical to every team, the business, and the community itself. Tune in to hear how Patrick and Danielle have fostered product relationships at Burb, CNN, Lyft, and more.

Danielle and Patrick also discuss:

  • The value that community pros can bring to product teams
  • Learning and leveraging product’s processes
  • How the OKR (objectives and key results) goal structure can be adapted by community pros
Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of Community Reporting to Product”