How Libraries Build Safe, Inclusive Community Spaces

David Lee KingCommunity is at the core of the existence of public libraries. They’re an important hub for local communities and, in turn, become a community of their own, where people learn and share.

Many libraries are safe, inclusive spaces where diversity is on display. If you are new to the area, or even to the country, libraries help you connect with your new community. If you are a member of a marginalized group, libraries can provide vital support. If you have a disability, libraries offer access to tools and services that improve your quality of life.

How do libraries create those spaces? That’s what I’m talking about with David Lee King, the digital services director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, and a recognized leader in the use of emerging technology for libraries. Plus:

  • What is a digital library branch?
  • How the library’s online efforts are impacted by seeing so many of their patrons face-to-face
  • What online community pros can learn from libraries

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The Skill of Empathy

Lindsay StarkeI recently spoke to a class at Syracuse about online community, and one of the students asked me what the two most important traits for a community professional were. I named empathy and attention to detail. The first one is the focus of this episode.

It’s hard to imagine a great community professional lacking empathy. And yet, it’s a skill that’s worth talking about, understanding and refining. Higher Logic community manager Lindsay Starke is passionate about empathy and the impact it can have on your community and your business. Plus:

  • Why Lindsay cares about the history of our profession
  • What feature she’d like to see Higher Logic add to their software
  • Can empathy be taught?

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How Pearson’s Internal Online Community Connects 36,000 Employees in 70+ Countries

dina-vekariaSix years ago, multinational publishing and education company Pearson transitioned from siloed intranets to an internal online community named Neo. This platform has encouraged active collaboration between their global network of 36,000 employees, spread across more than 70 countries.

When you are talking about such a large, diverse group of employees, part of bringing them together is figuring how to to divide them, to ensure they are connecting with the right people and accomplishing their goals. Pearson community manager Dina Vekaria joins the show to break down these efforts, including:

  • Using gamification without getting in the way of work being done
  • How internal communities help retain employee knowledge – after employees move on
  • Are internal communities the next step in the progression of the intranet?

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The Howard Rheingold Episode

Howard RheingoldI’m a big believer in knowing where you come from. Online community is not new. Our profession has existed since the 1980s. People came before us, and I believe that it’s important to understand, acknowledge and appreciate that. We should value and respect those who did the work before we did.

Any conversation about online community pioneers must involve today’s guest. Howard Rheingold was an early, active member of The WELL, the highly influential online community, founded in 1985. He is credited with coining the term, “virtual community,” and Mr. Rheingold’s experiences with online communities led him to author the book, The Virtual Community, published in 1993. His work has influenced generations of community builders. We discuss:

  • The essential digital literacy all web users must have
  • What still excites him about online community in 2016
  • Why it took 5 years to find a publisher for The Virtual Community

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How The Guardian Prepared for Brexit’s Impact on Community Engagement

Mary HamiltonWhen the results of the Brexit referendum were announced, the people of the United Kingdom reacted immediately online. Many of them chose The Guardian’s website as their venue, sharing their thoughts with the readers of one of country’s most popular news outlets.

When a highly-charged political issue like this comes to pass, I always think about my friends and peers who work community in the media, and the challenges they must be facing. If you want to talk about Brexit’s impact on comments, community and moderation, there is perhaps no one better to speak with than Mary Hamilton, executive editor for audience at The Guardian. She joins me to discuss the preparation and the impact, plus:

  • What Mary learned from building local audience teams in Australia and the U.S.
  • The ROI of on-site community for The Guardian
  • Are online comments of historical significance?

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Bringing Respect to a Like Fight

Talia StroudWhat makes great online discourse? That’s what the Engaging News Project routinely tries to determine. Though their work focuses on news media, the resulting research is often just as helpful to the average community professional.

Director Talia Stroud, associate professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin, joins me on this episode to discuss the obstacles that can prevent comment sections from being great, and offer straightforward recommendations for how you can make them better. Our topics include:

  • Inspiring thoughtful discourse when polarizing conversation leads to more buzz
  • Talia’s thoughts on traditional media sites removing their comment sections
  • Why you should add a respect button to your community content right now

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How to Build a Paid, Private Online Community With Staying Power

Andrew YouderianPaid, private online communities often struggle to retain members and create value over a long period of time. They start strong, with a lot of promise, but over time, many succumb to repetition in content and conversation that leads to members deciding they can no longer justify the expense.

With a fee of $49 per month, eCommerceFuel is a 1,000 strong paid, private community for ecommerce store owners with six and seven figure incomes. They turn people away. They kick out inactive members. They don’t allow vendors. A tight, focused strategy has enabled them to create a community that continues to both grow and retain members. Founder Andrew Youderian joins me on this episode to discuss how he’s done it. Plus:

  • How Andrew seeded the community initially
  • Finding the right price point and deciding when it’s time to raise it
  • Why Andrew turns away new members, for the sake of the community

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Kickstarter’s Community Wants Your Next Crowdfunding Campaign to Be Successful

Carol Benovic-BradleyKickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, with $2.3 billion dollars pledged to more than 112,000 successful projects. The company has a firm grasp of the best practices that can improve a campaign’s chances of success.

In part, this knowledge comes from their large community of creators, who continue to refine and identify new “best” ways of using the service. Carol Benovic-Bradley, of Kickstarter’s learning and engagement team, within the larger community team, works to surface these insights and connect creators with one another, raising the bar for the platform as a whole. We discuss those efforts, plus:

  • The size and scope of Kickstarter’s community team
  • Why data can be noisy and distract from the big picture
  • How you can make room for diverse voices in your community

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The Skills You Gain From Starting a Community

Andy McIlwainIf you’re interested in community as a profession, and you’re looking to build your experience, start an online community. This industry is full of amazing people who trace their roots back to taking initiative, not simply reading and studying, but actually doing. Our guest on today’s show is an example of this.

Andy McIlwain, who works in community at GoDaddy, will tell you that he has only been doing this “professionally” for one year. But his experience in community dates back to the late ’90s, when he began to moderate and manage gaming communities on a volunteer basis and as something he did on the side. But when a perfect job opened up at GoDaddy, he found that the skills he had been building for the last 15+ years translated pretty easily to the corporate world. We also discuss:

  • What ezboard and Medium have in common
  • The partnership model for growing online communities
  • How GoDaddy identified the customers they wanted to be early adopters in their community

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Supporting the Mental Health of Front Line Community Pros

Joi PodgornyCommunity pros on the front lines, the ones who stand between your members and disturbing content, are often viewed as expendable. Use them up, and hire more. Even though they may see the most psyche-damaging content the internet has to offer, companies usually do not make their mental health a priority.

Joi Podgorny argues that not only should companies offer this support, they have an ethical responsibility to do so. This episode is all about how these professionals should be treated by their employers, which will allow those employers to get the greatest work out of them. Topics include:

  • How to ensure remote workers aren’t viewed by the office as outsiders
  • The ways that companies can emotionally support the moderators of sensitive content
  • Why taking care of other people’s kids online is so impactful

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