How Telehealth Provides More Efficient Healthcare for Patients and Providers – and the Role Online Communities Can Play

How did the pandemic impact your relationships with your healthcare providers? Did telehealth enable you to continue seeing or connecting with your providers to receive the care that you needed?

In this episode of Community Signal, Denzil Coleman, a telehealth coordinator, developing and maintaining digital health interventions at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Telehealth, discusses how the adoption of telehealth interactions and practices during the pandemic may lead to continued and more long-term improvements and efficiencies in our healthcare system.

Denzil explains that telehealth is “anything where healthcare is being impacted by a patient and an actor that are not in the same location. That includes a video, that includes transmissions of information, asynchronous messaging, [and] remote patient monitoring.” Telehealth can create efficiencies for both patients and providers –– giving patients flexibility to see their providers without the burden of travel and with the option to invite more caregivers into these interactions.

Whereas in the past, patients may have received pamphlets with details about in-person support groups or other care options, today there are online communities and support groups and insurance companies themselves even offer telehealth options. With these options come more opportunities for patients to be more engaged in the care that they receive and for providers to thoughtfully care for patients.

Denzil and Patrick also discuss how:

  • COVID, the shifting landscape of the healthcare profession, and the fact that folks are living longer, healthier lives all impacts the healthcare system
  • The flexibility of telehealth allows a patient’s support system to become more involved in their care
  • Creating efficiencies in the healthcare system should not equate to patients receiving less care
  • Value-based care could resemble a community-like investment in overall care
Continue reading “How Telehealth Provides More Efficient Healthcare for Patients and Providers – and the Role Online Communities Can Play”

Here’s How Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading Misinformation Despite Your Best Moderation Efforts

What moderation tactics have you used or seen as a mechanism to curtail the spread of misinformation in communities and on social media platforms? Word detection, link blocking, and digital stickers promoting legitimate information sources may immediately come to mind.

But what would happen if you ran your moderation tools against URLs shared in link-in-bio services used in your community? Or what if you learned that folks on your platform were using specific codewords to circumvent word detection? Or posting screenshots of misinformation rather than using plain-text? People are getting creative with how they share all types of information online, misinformation included. Are our moderation strategies keeping up?

In this discussion, Patrick chats with Joseph Schafer, an undergraduate student of Computer Science and Ethics at the University of Washington and Rachel Moran, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. They discuss their research and how anti-vaccine advocates are circumventing content moderation efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and large social networks. Some of their findings might surprise you! For example, specific folk theories have emerged that define how some believe social platforms and algorithms work to moderate their content and conversations. And whether these theories are true or not, the strategies forming around them do seem to help people keep questionable content up long enough for researchers to come across it.

So, where do we start? How can we detect misinformation if people are using codewords like pizza or Moana to get around our tools and teams? There may not be precise solutions here just yet, but Rachel and Joseph both offer ideas to help us down the right path, which starts with deciding that the engagement that brews around misinformation is not safe for the long-term health of your community.

Among our topics:

  • Why Linktree needs community guidelines and how link-in-bio sites have become a vector for misinformation
  • The folk theories that are informing how we perceive and operate around social media algorithms
  • Adapting your moderation strategies to better find misinformation
Continue reading “Here’s How Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading Misinformation Despite Your Best Moderation Efforts”

Fostering Resiliency for Community, Moderation, Trust, and Safety Pros

When was the last time you mandated that your community, moderation, trust, and safety colleagues schedule time for out of queue activities? When was the last time you led by example and took a break or participated in other wellness activities before you felt burnout? What was the last tool your product team built to help foster resiliency for your moderators?

While we can’t mitigate all burnout, in this episode, Patrick and our guest, Adelin Cai, discuss how employee resiliency programs and policies can help you create an all-around safer environment for your colleagues and teams. Tools like well-defined queues and changing the presentation of harmful content are also potential product solutions that can foster resiliency from a workflow perspective.

With experience in policy, trust, and safety leadership for Pinterest, Twitter, and Google, Adelin also shares her approach for thinking about the metrics that matter. Spoiler: Metrics that revolve around quantity, like number of cases closed, or even quality, like CSAT, may not always equate to success or reflect the health of your community. Adelin also discusses working collaboratively with product and engineering teams to ensure that there’s transparency about what is being built and launched and what community behaviors or metrics should be monitored to indicate performance and to influence the further direction of the product.

Among our other topics:

  • The baseline for an employee resilience program
  • What an ideal work relationship with product and engineering looks like
  • How to reallocate resources and budget to prioritize essential moderation, trust, and safety work
Continue reading “Fostering Resiliency for Community, Moderation, Trust, and Safety Pros”

What Makes an Online Community a Home?

May 21st, 2021 marked 20 years since the launch of In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick speaks with five forum members that have been on for nearly 65 years, collectively. Together, they discuss what keeps them coming back to the community as members, moderators, and martial artists. 

While each member brings different experiences and background to the community, Bob, Brian, Danielle, Devin, and Noah all cite the quality of the interactions that they’ve had in the community and how it has brought out their skills as community members, teachers, and students of the martial arts. Those interactions helped these folks launch their own martial arts schools, grow as martial artists, and pay it forward to hundreds of thousands of other folks seeking out knowledge.

Whether you’re listening to this episode with 20 years of community management experience or you’re working on approaching that milestone, a few things emerge as truths from this episode –– that it’s not the size of a community that matters, but the level of care that you find there. That community members can go from the verge of being banned to becoming model community members, if given the chance. That communities thrive when they help their members achieve their goals and pay it forward to others. Whether this is your first year as a community manager or your twentieth, we hope that you find these lessons and stories helpful. And here’s to another 20 years of! 

They also discuss:

  • The benefits of your members joining other communities
  • How helped each guest find confidence, friends, and more
  • Why Devin describes as charitable
Continue reading “What Makes an Online Community a Home?”

Dismantling the Model Minority Myth and Fostering Safer Communities, One Conversation at a Time

For this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by community professionals Jenn Hudnet, Lana Lee, and Phoebe Venkat. They candidly share stories about the impact of racism and stereotypes against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in their own lives, in the workplace, and in the communities they manage.

Jenn, Lana, and Phoebe each had stories to share about their families, the circumstances that brought them to the United States, the racism and discrimination they faced, and the shared generational trauma they’re working through together. “We have to look forward. We’ve got to acknowledge some of the wrongs that happened to our parents, relatives, and friends in the past. It’s very difficult to do. We’re doing it, but it definitely takes a community of community to get that done,” shared Phoebe (7:47).

There’s also a discussion around the work that companies and colleagues must do to maintain safe workplaces and communities. “Your intention might not always be to hurt or harm someone or to make fun of someone, but the impact is still there. Being able to understand the impact that our words and actions have on others is important [as well as] being able to acknowledge the impact that it might have on somebody. I think microaggressions are something that I’ve even had to learn to recognize because I’ve just internalized them and accepted them over the years of being here,” said Jenn (21:12).

And there’s an important reminder in this episode to see your colleagues and community members as individuals. Individuals that might have a bad day, that might make mistakes, or that might be comforted just by your presence. “Sometimes we hear stories of people. [Maybe] they posted a really good picture one day and then the next day they’re feeling down. … As a community manager, [it’s really important to] take time to read and understand where people are coming from,” explains Lana (49:46).

We’re thankful to Jenn, Lana, and Phoebe for sharing with us. May this conversation lead to safer communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, and personal boundaries.

Lana, Jenn, Patrick, and Phoebe also discuss:

  • The model minority myth and the harm it causes
  • Recognizing emotional labor and setting boundaries
  • There are no growth hacks when it comes to helping your community members feel safe
Continue reading “Dismantling the Model Minority Myth and Fostering Safer Communities, One Conversation at a Time”

Helping Online Community Members Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 support via text message to anyone facing a mental health crisis. Some organizations partner with Crisis Text Line to develop co-branded text lines for their community, but starting today, you can make Crisis Text Line part of your policy and response strategy if anyone in your community or on your team shares or shows signs that they’re experiencing a mental health crisis.

The other part of your response strategy leverages a skill that you likely practice everyday –– empathy. Becka Ross, the chief program officer at Crisis Text Line, reminds us that “anybody can be empathetic. When somebody is expressing or showing signs of mental illness, it’s not the expectation that somebody steps up into a role of a psychotherapist or a doctor or any other mental health professional, but all humans can be empathetic to one another.”

Crisis Text Line is powered by a team of 39,000 volunteers. Their community, training, and volunteer opportunities call on people from all walks of life to work together to help those facing mental health dilemmas. In our discussion with Becka, you’ll learn not only how the team supports one another through community, but also how you can do the same for your own community members and the people you care about.

Becka and Patrick discuss:

  • How Crisis Text Line partners with organizations and offers itself as a resource to anyone in need
  • Forming a mental health crisis policy for your community
  • Using machine learning to respond quickest to those most at risk
Continue reading “Helping Online Community Members Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis”

Whistleblower: Facebook is Allowing Dictators to Mislead Their Citizens

Last month, Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook, went public as a whistleblower drawing attention to how the company delayed action against or outright ignored manipulation of it’s platform by autocratic leaders and global governments to the detriment of the people of those countries.

All work, including community management, requires trade-offs, areas of focus, and prioritization. Our teams and resources allow us to increase our areas of focus and more consistently foster the interactions that our communities exist for. But for an organization with the staff and resources of Facebook, you’d expect the trade-offs to be few and far between, and the areas of focus to be vast – covering the areas of the platform prone to abuse just as much as areas that foster healthy interactions.

But for Facebook, Sophie describes how, at least internally, those lines between healthy interactions and “inauthentic interactions” surfaced potential conflicts of interest, slowness to take action, and a tendency to focus on some countries more than others.

When we’re prioritizing what to work on or how to foster our communities, we may reference company values or internal OKRs. But for community professionals, there’s also the question of how does this preserve the safety of the community and those in it? How is Facebook scaling to protect the political safety of its members? Or perhaps a better question is, does it even think it has the responsibility to do so? As Sophie says, “it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, Facebook is a company. Its goal is to make money. It’s not focused on saving the world or fixing the product. I think it’s important to be cynically realistic about the matter.”

Sophie and Patrick discuss:

  • Manipulation so brazen that the government actors didn’t even bother to hide it
  • The real-world implications that “inauthentic behavior” on Facebook has had for Azerbaijan, Honduras, India, and other countries
  • How Facebook differentiates and actions inauthentic profiles and pages
Continue reading “Whistleblower: Facebook is Allowing Dictators to Mislead Their Citizens”

Why It’s Harmful to Label Community and Community Pros as Underdogs

Georgina DonahueIf you were designing a curriculum to teach undergrads about community management, what would you cover? Georgina Donahue’s approach in designing such a curriculum for a course at the University of Massachusetts was grounded not only in her experience as a community professional but also in her understanding that as a professor, she was instructing a community of students getting ready to enter the workforce. “Think about the experience of … an undergraduate right now. … How do you really use that course to make your students ready for the workforce and appealing to a hiring manager?”

Similar to designing a curriculum, think of the different strengths that your colleagues bring to your community team and efforts. What are the career trajectories that speak to their strengths, interests, and your community’s needs? Patrick and Georgina discuss two potential roles, community data analyst and community platform architect, that we may start to see more as community teams scale. While community professionals are often tasked with wearing many hats (and can excel while doing so), as our profession matures, the opportunities ahead will offer continued growth, potential for specialization, and more focused roles to serve our communities and community teams.

Georgina and Patrick discuss:

  • The curriculum of Georgina’s community management course at UMass Lowell
  • Community paths outside of management for community pros
  • Why you get lifetime access to the Pragmatic Alumni Community after taking a course at Pragmatic Institute
  • Why you’re doing yourself a disservice if you label community as an underdog
Continue reading “Why It’s Harmful to Label Community and Community Pros as Underdogs”

Lessons from Community Memory, the First Publicly Available Social Media System

Lee Felsenstein’s work in tech and social organizing led to the creation of the Community Memory project, the first publicly available social media system and public computerized bulletin board system. Mr. Felsenstein was also a founding member of the Homebrew Computer Club, and he helped develop the personal computer.

So, what was the first publicly accessible computerized bulletin board like? Mr. Felsenstein was less concerned with metrics around volume and recalls more specifically the diversity of interactions that happened through Community Memory. “We found somebody who did some typewriter graphics on it, [using] the teletype to laboriously draw a picture of a sailboat. That was not anticipated. We found all manner of people asking questions and giving answers to questions.” (Go to 7:07 in the discussion to hear more.)

Mr. Felsentein also describes in great detail how he helped onboard people to Community Memory. Psychedelic posters, a cardboard box covering, and a person that stood near the terminal at all times who served as a promoter, tech support, and a bodyguard all helped people walking by Community Memory in its first home, a record store, use a virtual bulletin board for the first time.

There are many takeaways from this episode of Community Signal, but let’s start with one –– Community Memory’s approach to onboarding and tech education helped many take their first steps with computers and with virtual message boards. How can we carry this example forward, when for a lot of us, access to the internet comes by way of our mobile devises. Mr. Felsenstein is thinking about this and other community builders should, too.

Mr. Felsenstein and Patrick also discuss:

  • The Free Speech Movement of the ’60s
  • The origin and story of Community Memory
  • Lee’s involvement with The WELL
Continue reading “Lessons from Community Memory, the First Publicly Available Social Media System”

Creator Tools Drive Community Interest and Revenue for Old Call of Duty Games

The Zombies game mode within the popular Call of Duty video game franchise has created a massive community of fans and players who not only play and connect with the developers, but with each other as they try to discover every aspect of each piece of content released for the game.

In two versions of the game, they are even able to create their own content that can be played and shared online with other players. This ability to co-create and remix is the focus of this episode, as it leads to the game being more valuable to all parties, from the game publisher that owns the franchise to the player who plays alone. 

But you don’t need to be a fan of Call of Duty: Zombies or even video games in general to take community learnings from this conversation.

MrRoflWaffles is a YouTuber and streamer that has grown his channel to over 1.7 million subscribers and 400 million views. His audience comes to his channel to partake in all things Call of Duty: Zombies –– whether it’s the latest news from Activision or deep dives on Easter eggs. In talking with Patrick, MrRoflWaffles explains how mod tools, which allow you to create new content for the game, and Easter eggs keep Zombies fresh, interesting, and challenging to both expert players and folks that are new to the game.

He also shares his “hungry player theory” –– a theory that even as game studios release more content for their games, players are always hungry for more. And while it’s not possible for game studios to constantly release new content, mod tools put the power of game creation directly in the hands of the community.

What tools and tailored experiences can you offer to your community members?

MrRoflWaffles and Patrick discuss:

  • Extending the play life of your game and your community by giving your members tools to create
  • The importance of communicating through game dev challenges
  • How mod tools can alleviate pressure from game studios and developers
Continue reading “Creator Tools Drive Community Interest and Revenue for Old Call of Duty Games”