Community Management Before Section 230, When You Had to Print Out Every Post

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been a frequent topic of conversation on Community Signal. Its existence as we know it seems untenable given Trump’s recent executive order and Joe Biden’s criticisms of it. On this episode, community and social media professional David Flores shares some of the history of how Section 230 came to be.

David worked at Prodigy just as they were coming under fire for a post that someone left on one of their message boards. While the initial court ruling went against Prodigy and found that online service providers could be held liable for the speech of their users, this decision served as the genesis for Section 230, and the ruling was overturned by the new law.

He also shares how he entered the field of community management and describes navigating moderation at Prodigy in the ’80s and ’90s. For context, all deleted posts were printed so as to maintain a record. He also discusses conversations with early community platforms and how Prodigy attempted to look after its employees’ emotional wellbeing during times of turmoil at work.

Here’s more of what Patrick and David discuss:

  • What was it like moderating before Section 230?
  • Editorial standards as a framework for community moderation practices
  • The popularity of Prodigy’s message boards
Continue reading “Community Management Before Section 230, When You Had to Print Out Every Post”

Facebook Promoted Divisive Content to Boost User Engagement

For years, Facebook executives have persistently shut down efforts to make the site less divisive, according to reporting from Deepa Seetharaman and Jeff Horwitz of The Wall Street Journal.

As community professionals, we’re tasked with helping people start and participate in conversations that matter to them. We’re often held accountable by “engagement” metrics –– such as the number of people participating in conversations and the sentiment surrounding those conversations.

But in this conversation with reporter Jeff Horwitz, you’ll learn that while Facebook obviously wants to gain more attention from users and increase time spent on the platform, there’s less internal consensus around the ethical dilemma of reaching these engagement goals by amplifying divisive groups and content. Alternatively, a lack of concrete metrics to measure impact is perhaps one of the things stopping Facebook from taking a step back and thinking about how their platform is impacting the world.

Is Facebook already too much of a monolith to change its path? Or is Mark Zuckerberg still not convinced that the company is at the center of a moral dilemma when it comes to polarizing its members and advancing the spread of misinformation?

In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick talks to Jeff about the article and dives into the context surrounding the story learned while talking to Facebook employees. They discuss:

  • The engineers that are continuously pushing to build a more fair and just Facebook
  • How decision-making works at Facebook
  • Why “social good” has fallen out of favor
Continue reading “Facebook Promoted Divisive Content to Boost User Engagement”

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”

How HER Puts Its LGBTQ+ Community’s Safety First

People have gotten crafty when it comes to staying connected during this time of social distancing. Zoom calls with family and friends, Animal Crossing weddings, and drive-through birthday parties are just a few of the ways we’re showing up for the people we care about. HER, a dating and social app for LGBTQ+ womxn and queer people, is also doing its part to foster safe socializing for its community. That said, you might say this comes as first nature to HER, because safety has always been a must when it comes to representing and providing a space for their members.

In this episode of Community Signal, HER’s head of community, Shana Sumers, discusses the recent changes that have been made to help community members stay connected during the pandemic. She also shares some of the tools and policies that keep members of HER safe from scams and persecution because of their sexual identity or gender orientation.

Patrick and Shana also discuss:

  • How community moderators make a difference on HER
  • Reasons why members find value in HER even after finding a partner through the community
  • Delivering a premium and safe experience on HER without forcing everyone to pay a premium
  • Why the 40+ community is Shana’s favorite on the app
Continue reading “How HER Puts Its LGBTQ+ Community’s Safety First”

Building Community During a Pandemic at Pandora and SiriusXM

We’re several months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the daily loss of lives is still devastating and the longterm effects on our communities and society as a whole have yet to be seen. For many of us, the pandemic has affected our routines, our families, our work, and our livelihood. While some online communities have seen more engagement from community members (I love this story that mentions how Ethel’s Club pivoted from a brick and mortar social club to an online one), we’re also seeing tremendous layoffs across all industries.

Amidst all of this and despite being just a few months old, Pandora’s community is aspiring to be a space where members can connect over music and everything impacting their lives right now. In this episode, community manager Erick Linares shares the strategy behind the launch of the Pandora community and how he’s working with his team to foster great conversations.

Patrick and Erick also discuss:

  • Why Erick thinks a superuser program will be integral to the Pandora community
  • The challenge of making the case for a new community during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How the mentorship Erick received at Fitbit propelled his career growth and how he’s paying it forward
Continue reading “Building Community During a Pandemic at Pandora and SiriusXM”

Community Programs for Brands, Ambassadors, and Your Team

Nicholas Tolstoshev is talking programs. Brand representative programs, where brands pay you for access to your community. Ambassador programs, where you reward your best contributors. And empathy programs, where you help your coworkers see things from the eyes of your members and customers. 

This discussion also ends on a note that we probably all need to hear right now, and that’s the importance of leaning on and being honest with each other about our shared challenges of navigating life and work during the pandemic. Nicholas shares how he has worked to start these honest and difficult conversations at Automox. Here’s to workplaces that are being encouraging and understanding during these difficult times.

Patrick and Nicholas also discuss:

  • Building ambassador programs and empathy programs to strengthen communities
  • Empowering community members to create and moderate conversations of their own
  • How Nicolas cultivates the internal employee community at Automox
Continue reading “Community Programs for Brands, Ambassadors, and Your Team”

Managing Communities of IT Pros and MMORPG Players

Every community has its own shared language and for the Spiceworks community, that shared language revolves around IT. Made up of IT professionals and service providers that support them, the Spiceworks community convenes to share their collective expertise and find solutions.

In this episode of Community Signal, Sean Dahlberg, director of community at Spiceworks, shares how his team approaches community management and how they ensure that the community continues to offer value to its members, even as the company endures organizational change. Spiceworks was acquired last year by Ziff Davis and co-founder Jay Hallberg rcently announced his resignation. In response, Sean says that he and his team have prioritized being as open and honest with the community as possible in an effort to avoid rumors and reassure the community that the company is still committed to offering value to its members.

Sean and Patrick also discuss:

  • Sean’s transition from the Marine Corps, to the gaming industry, to Spiceworks
  • The pepper scale system, which allows Spiceworks members to level up based on their specific area of expertise
  • How Sean balanced the needs of Star Wars fans and MMORPG players
Continue reading “Managing Communities of IT Pros and MMORPG Players”

How Online Communities are Responding to Coronavirus COVID-19

We started recording this episode about a week before its release, and since then, coronavirus COVID-19 has continued to spread across the globe. News and governmental guidance is being updated frequently and people in many regions are being mandated to stay home as much as possible in an effort to help flatten the curve.

The pandemic has obviously impacted online communities, too. In this episode of Community Signal, I (Carol), along with community professionals Serena Snoad and Rose Barrett share our communities have changed in recent weeks. But amongst the three of us, there was a common theme –– the work of maintaining our communities as sources of helpful and reliable information is more important than ever.

If you have a story to share about how your community has been impacted, we’d love to hear from you. But most of all, we hope that you are well, practicing social distancing, and doing your part to stay at home as much as you can.

Here’s some of what you’ll find in this episode:

  • How we can help restaurants and food industry professionals as they brace for the impact of the pandemic
  • Tips from a remote work community on how to adapt to working out of your home
  • Evaluating misinformation about COVID-19 and maintaining your community as a space for accurate information
Continue reading “How Online Communities are Responding to Coronavirus COVID-19”

When Your First Day as an Online Community Manager is Your First Day at a Computer

As community professionals, the array of platforms, reading material, conferences, and thought leaders available to us only continues to grow. And if you’ve read or written a job description for a community opportunity recently, you know that there’s often an expectation around technical literacy for everyone in the field.

In a time when a lot of our day-to-day takes place in front of a screen, I felt a little punch in the gut while listening to this episode of Community Signal, when I learned that John Coate, an early community manager, had no knowledge of the tools available when he first started at The WELL. In fact, he says that his first day on the job was the first day that he sat down in front of a computer!

So, why was I surprised? Has our industry placed too much influence on speaking engagements, platform knowledge, and revenue-focused metrics instead of the values and actual community-related experience that should govern our work? As John puts it, “computers are just a way to connect people. Never forget that you’re talking to real people, and it’s good to treat them as if you really are in the same room with them.” Sounds simple, but imagine if platforms like Facebook or Twitter followed this golden rule. We’d have a much different internet today. Patrick and John discuss this exact point and the work that John is doing to get us there. Because not surprisingly, the values that guided his work at The WELL 35 years ago are the same ones we need to call upon today.

John and Patrick also talk about:

  • How tools like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way that we communicate with one another
  • John’s transition from auto mechanic to online community manager
  • The movement to decentralize the internet
  • Metrics based on relationships, sentiment, and factual statements within the community
Continue reading “When Your First Day as an Online Community Manager is Your First Day at a Computer”

LEGO Ideas and the Building Blocks of a Successful Crowdsourcing Community

Every company has the challenge of managing how to respond to customer feedback. But what if you’re managing a crowdsourcing community and actively asking people for their ideas and feedback? How do you make sure that every contributor feels seen and respected for their efforts, whether their idea becomes reality or not? These are the questions that Tim Courtney and the team behind LEGO Ideas have tackled.

On a previous episode of Community Signal, we spoke to Jake McKee, who helped build LEGO’s first community team. One of the early members of that community was Tim, who would later go on to join the LEGO Ideas team. In this episode, Tim shares a history of LEGO Ideas, a space where people passionate about LEGO can submit their own ideas for new sets. And while LEGO has many designers on payroll, Tim explains why the contributions from its community pay back (and pay forward) tenfold.

Here’s more of what Tim and Patrick discuss:

  • How 16-year-old Tim first joined the LEGO community
  • The strategy behind helping all LEGO Ideas contributors feel seen and rewarded
  • Measuring the ROI of the LEGO Ideas community
Continue reading “LEGO Ideas and the Building Blocks of a Successful Crowdsourcing Community”