Trump’s Executive Order is a Danger to Online Communities

Black Lives Matter.

As community professionals and hosts, we have the power to cultivate thoughtful spaces online. We serve communities and, if you’re a regular listener of this show, I doubt you’re serving racists.

Systemic problems can feel overwhelming, but small things make a difference. Your community and how you manage it, regardless of the size of it, can be a part of the solution. I encourage you to think about that as you make choices that shape these platforms.

On May 28, a couple of days after Twitter added a fact-checking notice to one of his tweets, Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting online communities and platforms.

I believe that holding Trump accountable for his rhetoric and fighting white supremacy are the same fight. This executive order is designed to stop you, me, and big platforms from doing exactly that. On this episode, we’re talking with attorney Anette Beebe about the resulting fallout and answering some of your questions.

Among our topics:

  • What damage has Trump’s executive order done already?
  • How does this impact community moderation right now?
  • The publisher vs. platform “debate”
  • Does adding notices to content make you liable?
Continue reading “Trump’s Executive Order is a Danger to Online Communities”

The Dark Side of Algorithms

Major social media platforms are using algorithms in spite of the best interests of their users, says Bruce Ableson on this episode of Community Signal. They are focused on serving you an ad at the right moment, or putting something controversial in front of you, “gaming the experience against the users to make money.”

Throughout the conversation, it becomes clear that this is emblematic of their approach in general, not just to curation and algorithms, but to moderation and management. These platforms are what they are not because of what they did last week or last month, but what they did 5 or 10 years ago. Plus:

  • The biggest threat to well-managed online communities
  • Cynical, or realistic, reasons why major platforms are the way they are
  • Why Bruce believes subscriptions could be the future of online communities.
Continue reading “The Dark Side of Algorithms”

New Year’s Break!

Hey all,

Thank you for listening to and supporting Community Signal in 2018. We’ll soon be publishing a list of the most listened to episodes of the year, and I honestly have no idea what that list will look like, so I’m excited to find out.

With the holidays last week and then New Year’s Eve being today (when we would normally release an episode), I decided it was best to give the team (and you) a break. But we’ll be back next week, January, to release our first episode of 2019. And we’ll have new music! Talk to you soon.

Thanks again,


Build Something People Care Enough to Get Angry About

Jason Falls knows where your customers are talking. He’s studied conversations for several years and, time and time again, he’s shed light on an inconvenient truth for brands: If you’re ignoring online forums, you’re probably ignoring a substantial part of the conversations happening in public – maybe even a majority of them. And it usually doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Banking? 90%. Elderly care? 83%.

He doesn’t work in the community space, he’s not drinking the Kool-Aid. Jason is a veteran digital strategist who follows the data, and the data tells him that brands are continually missing a major opportunity to build loyalty and increase sales. And that’s one of the topics on this episode. Plus:

  • Why angry brand ambassadors are actually a positive
  • The obsession with vanity metrics
  • Where community fits in customer journey mapping

Continue reading “Build Something People Care Enough to Get Angry About”

How Spotify’s Rock Star Program Empowers and Rewards Community Super Users

Spotify’s Rock Stars are super users, officially recognized by the company and given tools, resources, guidance and perks for answering questions and starting conversations in their online community and helping users on Twitter, through the @AskRockStars account.

With more than 150 members, the program will celebrate its fifth birthday next month. Each year, Spotify hosts Rock Star Jam, an event at their head quarters in Stockholm. They fly in the top 10 most helpful Rock Stars to meet company leaders, see whats coming next, offer feedback and enjoy the city.

Global community manager Meredith Humphrey has been with Spotify since 2011, starting as a community moderator, and she breaks down the Rock Star Program on this episode of Community Signal. Plus:

  • The shift they made in product announcements to protect community staff
  • How the Rock Star Jam has evolved over the years
  • Meredith’s exploration of what ROI means for community at Spotify

Continue reading “How Spotify’s Rock Star Program Empowers and Rewards Community Super Users”

LEGO Wasn’t Always Open to Your Ideas

LEGO might be open to your ideas now, but it wasn’t always like that. Afraid of legal blowback, they once turned away ideas – and largely ignored their adult fan base.

Jake McKee helped form LEGO’s first community team, and usher in a new era of openness at the company. He opened the lines of communication between adult consumers of their products, who had more discretionary income than the kids, driving home the understanding that LEGO was not just a child’s toy company. Plus:

  • Finding the job you want, not necessarily the job that’s posted
  • How Jake made busy people find time to talk about community
  • Building super user programs

Continue reading “LEGO Wasn’t Always Open to Your Ideas”

He Hacked My Website

Jared Smith found my community when we were both teenagers. He got to see me early in my career. He became a great contributor to the community, as well as a moderator. He also hacked my website.

In high school, he couldn’t find any other Van Halen fans, so he joined an online community. That took him down a road that led to him co-authoring 2005’s Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress, and building a career. Plus:

  • phpBB’s insularity problem, that helped create an opportunity for Jared
  • The shift away from chronological order online
  • Russia’s manipulation of opinions online, through online communities and social spaces

Continue reading “He Hacked My Website”

Why Ubisoft Created a Community Content Team

Ubisoft’s community content team helps the gaming company’s community developers and managers by creating polished content, inspired by and sometimes derived from the community.

After spending time as a community developer himself, Zack Cooper was tapped to start this team, and has led it for the last 3 and a half years. We discuss:

  • How the community content team benefits the community team
  • Zack’s favorite stories of content that has come from the community
  • If this model could make sense in other industries

Continue reading “Why Ubisoft Created a Community Content Team”

From Civil Engineer to Community Manager

Lana Lee spent 15 years as a civil and structural engineer, before switching careers and, shortly thereafter, becoming a community manager.

On this episode of the show, we discuss what drove that change and the similarities between the two roles. Plus:

  • What Lana did when she was worried that some teams wouldn’t take the company community seriously
  • The community bootcamp program she’s working on
  • Why Facebook might be the greatest use case for pre-moderation I have ever seen

Continue reading “From Civil Engineer to Community Manager”

Making Plans

January 22, 2018 update: We’ve decided to extend this into a brief hiatus. We’ll be back next week, with some news about the show! Thank you for your patience.

Hey all,

I’m sorry to have to take another week off so soon, but we’re making some long range plans for the show, and figuring out what the next step looks like. In taking some time to think about that, we just weren’t able to get a show done this week. I’m excited about what is to come, and looking forward to sharing that. I hope to be back next week! Thank you for your patience.