The State of Community Management in Germany

On this episode of Community Signal, community management consultant Tanja Laub gives a full report on what it’s like to work as a community manager in Germany. And perhaps not too surprising, the experience is not dissimilar to what guests from the United States and other countries have described. Tanja shares a breakdown of community manager responsibilities, typical salaries, and the limitations and opportunities that she’s seen in the field so far.

Tanja is also a chairperson for BVCM, an association for Germany community managers, where she has helped develop a certification procedure for community and social media managers. Rather than requiring professionals to take a class to become certified, community managers instead verify their professional history and some other details about themselves to get the certification. Between that and her work to help organizations refine their hiring needs and community manager role descriptions, Tanja is helping to set the standard for what it means to work in community management.

Tanja and Patrick also discuss:

  • The value of certifications
  • How moderation norms compare to other countries, like Australia and the United States
  • What Tanja sees as areas of opportunity for communities in Germany
Continue reading “The State of Community Management in Germany”

How Gaming Community Knowledge Translates to Other Industries

On Community Signal, we talk to community professionals across all industries, from gaming, to healthcare, to photography, and more. And while our respective communities might convene over different topics, the tactics and tools that we employ to foster healthy communities are largely the same. In this episode, Craig Dalrymple shares how his community career started in gaming and how that knowledge has carried him into other industries. 

Patrick and Craig also get on the topic of customer success, the rise of roles in this space, and how community professionals can have an impact. But no matter what team you’re on or what your title is, what’s most important is that you feel empowered in your role and that you have the tools to succeed. As Craig says (8:48): “Can I do something here? Can I move the needle? Can I take this community and make it happier and bind it better with this product that they’re getting together around?”

They also discuss:

  • Balancing being yourself and a community manager in your online presence
  • Finding opportunities to surprise and delight (potential) customers outside of your community
  • When your employer wants metrics they won’t adequately give you access to
Continue reading “How Gaming Community Knowledge Translates to Other Industries”

Heather Champ and the Biggest Threats to Great Online Communities

A few weeks ago, the Community Signal team was discussing the upcoming schedule for the show and talking about the then recent news that Ravelry had decided to ban any pro-Trump related content. Community guidelines and how we moderate conversations in our respective communities are frequent topics on Community Signal, and it’s also something that we work on everyday as community professionals. If you’re contemplating new community guidelines, revising your existing ones, or debating a tough moderation decision, this episode has some terrific insights from Heather Champ.

Sharing stories from her time guiding community at Flickr, Tumblr, and more, it’s most interesting to hear from Heather not about exciting new tools and automations, but instead about how much empowering community members with options, filters, and clear community guidelines can create flourishing spaces for expression. Heather also brings up a very important topic –– the level of vulnerability that community managers face in their jobs and the repercussions of trolling and stalking as we become more deeply embedded in our communities. With Heather’s experience comes deep insights and knowledge, but also a clear message that we need to pay attention to the roles and protections that we’re building for community managers and our communities.

Patrick and Heather discuss:

  • Why algorithms can’t replace moderators
  • How Flickr created a safe space for sharing adult content
  • The role that Section 230 plays in fostering healthy conversations for everyone, including community managers
Continue reading “Heather Champ and the Biggest Threats to Great Online Communities”

The Loot Chest That Launched a Career in Community Management

If you work in games, social media, or community management, then you know that running any communications or programming around conventions like E3 and PAX requires intense planning and coordination. Fresh off of his first on the ground activation at E3, Joe King, social media manager for GameStop, shares the ups and downs of working conventions and of working in games community management. He also shares his strategy for engaging with games communities whether he is walking the convention floor for the first time or covering the event on social media from a remote location.

Joe’s career path into community management started with his love of games and quickly accelerated when he got creative with his resume. His advice for those looking to get into community management or any other field stands out: Start small, with tangible projects that can level up your skills. 

Joe and Patrick discuss:

  • What Joe did to make his resume standout when he was applying for a community position at Gearbox Software
  • Why numbers don’t matter when you’re starting out as a streamer
  • How landing a “dream job” can feel simultaneously exciting and paralyzing
Continue reading “The Loot Chest That Launched a Career in Community Management”

How Online Communities Can Disappear if Section 230 Gets Repealed

How would the internet change if Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is repealed? For U.S.-based online communities and the professionals that work for them, not for the better. In fact David Greene, senior staff attorney and civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that some websites and communities would disappear altogether. They simply wouldn’t be able to exist with the risk that republishing content could bring.

If you want to talk to your colleagues, your community, or your elected officials about how Section 230 protects everyone who uses and works on the internet, consider this episode your primer. Patrick and David also discuss misconceptions about Section 230 and why it’s important for all community professionals to pay attention to attempts to repeal this law.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • The basics of Section 230, including who it protects and how
  • How FOSTA intended to regulate sex trafficking and ultimately regulated so much more
  • What elected officials are saying and hearing about Section 230
Continue reading “How Online Communities Can Disappear if Section 230 Gets Repealed”

Join for the Code, Stay for the Community

When did you first realize that community management was an actual job? Many of the guests on Community Signal, including Patrick and this week’s guest, Shreyas Narayanan Kutty, got their start in community management by volunteering for causes or topics that they were passionate about. After building communities as a volunteer for the Mozilla Foundation, Shreyas found himself surrounded by community professionals and realized that he wanted to take his work full-time.

Shreyas now manages the developer relations community for CoinList, and with seven years of experience managing communities, he has observed a lot of positive change in how the community profession is perceived in India.

Patrick and Shreyas discuss:

  • How they each came to the realization that community management can be a viable job
  • Opportunities for growth and specialization in the community management profession
  • The practices and guidelines that lay the foundation for successful developer communities
Continue reading “Join for the Code, Stay for the Community”

Building and Nurturing Atlassian’s Community Leaders Program

headshotWhen Trello was acquired by Atlassian, Erica Moss went from being a team of one to a community manager with a supportive and specialized team. With this came the challenge of supporting Atlassian’s Community Leaders program, a group of Atlassian experts that share their knowledge with others. Tasked with taking the community from a Q&A forum to something more, Erica focused on what she thought would keep community members coming back and the “warm fuzzies” that would help community leaders define their tone and new members feel welcome.

And while Erica has grown the Community Leaders program from 60 to 128 members, it’s not quantity that she’s optimizing for. Because Community Leaders are representatives of Atlassian’s products and brand, she’s focused on finding leaders that can speak with accuracy about the suite of products and with a thoughtful tone.

In this episode of Community Signal, Erica talks about what makes the Community Leaders program successful and a value-add for its members. She and Patrick also discuss:

  • The different roles on Atlassian’s community team and why specialization is so important
  • Foursquare’s 10-year anniversary and why Erica is proud to be a superuser
  • The “invisible work” involved in community management and how Erica’s team brings transparency to their work
Continue reading “Building and Nurturing Atlassian’s Community Leaders Program”

How Front Porch Forum is Empowering the Citizens of Vermont

For all of of the convenience and value that tech companies and platforms provide, we’re also starting to see just how much they take away. In this episode, Michael Wood-Lewis, the co-founder of Front Porch Forum, shares how big tech facilitates connections between people, but at both a monetary and social cost.

In this episode, Michael and Patrick discuss how tech platforms optimize for engagement, back and forth between their users. But Front Porch Forum optimizes for actual conversations, not just online, but in person around civic engagement, and for things like borrowing a ladder or finding a plumber. If we take these conversations back, what happens to big tech?

Michael also shares:

  • The importance of authenticity on Front Porch Forum
  • What happened when local politicians realized the power of engaging with constituents through Front Porch Forum
  • How Front Porch Forum creates the feeling of a neighborhood block party online
Continue reading “How Front Porch Forum is Empowering the Citizens of Vermont”

The Sunset of Google Plus Communities and the Sunrise of a National Geographic Society Community

If you’re working on launching a new community initiative, there are so many case studies, tools, and knowledgeable community professionals to help you along your journey. But what if you’re tasked with sunsetting a community?

In this conversation, Patrick and Luke Zimmer, manager of the educator community for the National Geographic Society, discuss both instances. Luke has been tasked with managing the community for educators interested in geography education and after evaluating the limited capabilities of Google Plus, decided to go with a platform that offered more in the way of customization and data ownership. And, plot twist: Not long after making this decision, Google announced that it would be sunsetting its Google Plus consumer product, including the Google Plus Communities product.

Launching a new community or sunsetting an existing one are both complex undertakings. As Luke puts it, our online communities are microcosms of the culture around us. What happens when that culture and those connections are wiped away?

Patrick and Luke also discuss:

  • A full rundown of the Google Plus Communities sunset
  • Why having an anthropology background is helpful for working in community
  • How the National Geographic Society is structuring its new online community and plans to measure success
Continue reading “The Sunset of Google Plus Communities and the Sunrise of a National Geographic Society Community”

Machine Learning by Communities, for Communities

When was the last time you thought about that blank text field where members of your community can leave comments? That text field and blinking cursor are the closest we have to pauses between human interaction on the internet. In this episode, Perspective’s product manager, Cj Adams, encourages us to think about how we might innovate that text field and blinking cursor in hopes of having more inclusive, difficult, and natural conversations.

Cj also explains how Perspective can help. Its API has a variety of ways that can be implemented, all with the goal of perceiving the impact a comment might have on a conversation. But Cj also explains that machine learning is is not flawless, and he reminds us that the humans responsible for training it are what encourages its actual biases. So, just like with any other tool that you consider for your community, think about how you can implement it with your community in mind and not as the be all, end all solution for creating better conversations.

Cj also shares:

  • How Perspective creates a conversation around moderation
  • Why Perspective is a tool for communities small and large
  • What machine learning does when it’s “really stupid”
Continue reading “Machine Learning by Communities, for Communities”