That’s what this episode consists of: A group of clips that were released to Patreon supporters between June and July of 2017 and have only been heard by them – until now. With new insights from past guests Maggie McGary, Christopher Carfi, Kim England, Tracey Todd, Bob Hubbard, Scott Moore and Venessa Paech, this edition of the show is like a collection of short stories for community professionals, including:
- Lessons learned from fighting for buy-in for more than a decade
- When your community is deleted by a disgruntled employee of your web hosting company
- Candid reactions to Facebook’s inconsistent moderation manual
Our Podcast is Made Possible By…
If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Open Social.
“The lesson that I’ve learned, that I still have to remind myself of every day, is that patience is essential. [Community] makes perfect sense to you, from the community manager point of view, because you understand it and can clearly see the value… [but put] yourself in their shoes and understand that change is scary, doing things differently is scary, extra work is scary. Put the brakes on yourself … and just really try to see it from the point of view of somebody who may not understand what community is.” -@maggielmcg
“This idea that we have millennials and other labels for people in the workplace is actually really divisive, and I don’t think it’s helping when we start to think about how you engage employees. I really like to think about engaging employees based on their needs, their wants, and what they can get out of it and what’s in it for me. I think that kind of millennial discussion is really unhelpful, and it’s something that I have a serious bee in my bonnet about.” -@sociuscommunity
“You have immense power in your hands if you’re in charge of any community. If you’re building a community, you’re at the very start of your journey. If you are in charge of any large following … you’ve taken over the role of media provider. Your followers are going to look to you as a content provider whether your ambition is sports, pop culture, politics. I say, for community builders, it’s really important that you recognize the responsibility of that role and that power and the impact of your post. [Do not] disregard the fact that there is immense power there, and a post could be literally life-changing, life-altering for any of your followers.” -@TraceyTodd
“I don’t know if it’s just because context is tricky to scale but context makes moderation easier and more efficient, I would argue. It might make it more challenging in a few areas, but without context, you can’t possibly do [moderation]. It does explain why when you see the outcome [of so many of Facebook’s moderation decisions], you’re left scratching your head because you feel the absence of context. Why A and not B? Why that and not that? Why the picture of the woman breastfeeding but not the porn stars? It just makes no sense.” -@venessapeach
- Sponsor: Open Social, community building for nonprofits
- Community Signal’s Patreon campaign
- Maggie McGary, VP, strategy & audience development at 5:00 Films & Media (Community Signal episode)
- Christopher Carfi, director of content marketing at GoDaddy (Community Signal episode)
- Kim England, global community director at Pearson (Community Signal episode)
- Tracey Todd, digital communications director at the National Institute of Civil Discourse (Community Signal episode)
- Bob Hubbard, co-owner of Hubbard Photography and founder of MartialTalk.com (Community Signal episode)
- Scott Moore, formerly of Answers.com, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation and Fujitsu (Community Signal episode)
- Venessa Paech, founder of Swarm Conference and community manager at Australia Post (Community Signal episode)
- Community Signal episode with Denise Law, that Maggie tweeted about
- The GoDaddy Community
- Nobody Likes to be Called Millennial
- Liquid Web
- KenpoTalk, a discussion forum dedicated to Kenpo Karate
- Facebook moderators are trained to protect “white men” and not “black children” from hate speech
NOTE: This is a rough transcript, and it has not yet been proofed.
[00:00:04] Announcer: You’re listening to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals. Sponsored by Open Social: community building for nonprofits. Tweet with @communitysignal as you listen. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
[00:00:24] Patrick O’Keefe: Hello, and welcome to Community Signal. If you’ve listened to this show for a while, you know that we have a Patreon campaign for the show, where listeners receive various perks, including bonus clips from the show. Patreon supporters are the first to hear these extras, which are a lot of fun, and offer insights that aren’t included on the show. I want Patreon supporters to be able to enjoy these clips themselves for a while before anyone else hears them. For the first time, we are going to release a series of those bonus clips on this episode of Community Signal.
The segments featured on this edition of the show are from episodes 73 through 78. These clips were released to Patreon supporters between June 8th, 2017 and July 12th, 2017. We are so grateful for our Patreon supporters, and if you’d like to be the first to hear clips like this, you can find out more at communitysignal.com/innercircle. Thank you to Luke Zimmer, Joseph Ranallo, and Jules Standen for being among this group.
Our first clip is with Maggie McGary, VP of Strategy and Audience Development for 5:00 Films & Media, who previously spent several years working in the association space. We discussed how she has battled for buy-in her entire career, and what that has taught her.
You tweeted about our last episode with Denise Law of The Economist, and from talking to you, it sounds like both news media and associations have at least two things in common: a push to move engagement onto third-party social media platforms, and a lack of buy-in for own community initiatives. Associations seemed like a natural fit and yet, here we are. You’ve struggled with buy-in throughout your whole career, that’s what you told me, but from struggle can come education. By now, you’re used to [laughing] not having buy-in, right? You’re used to fighting for buy-in. What’s the main lesson or two that you’ve learned from that, that maybe will help you get buy-in now?
[00:02:04] Maggie McGary: The lesson that I’ve learned, that I still have to remind myself of every day, is that patience is essential. It is just like anything else in the association world, or just the business world, but particularly association world, change doesn’t come naturally, and there is that, especially with online community, where you’re trying to sell this concept. It makes perfect sense to you, from the community manager point of view, but just understanding that, because you understand it and can clearly see the value, and it’s frustrating to you slowing yourself down, and putting yourself in their shoes and understanding that change is scary, doing things differently is scary, extra work is scary.
Putting the brakes on yourself, which is something I have to [chuckles] it’s a work in progress. Just really trying to see it from the point of view of somebody who may not understand what community is. To them, they might understand, “Well, that’s LinkedIn, right? We already have that and that’s great.” [laughs] Being able to articulate over and over, and also show. That’s something that’s been really effective for me, is something that they already do know, a process that you might already have, being like, “We could use…That’s what I was talking about six months ago, while I was talking about that platform. That would actually be a really good platform to do that.”
You get blank looks, blank looks, blank looks, and then all of a sudden, you hit on that thing that helps that light bulb go on because you’re able to illustrate out how this platform or this concept could achieve the thing that they’re talking about. If it’s mentoring, it’s a big thing in the association world, as professional societies, that’s something that members want. Mentoring, chapters, that kind of model of networking, meeting people who are dealing with the same problems as you. It’s like taking a business problem and being able to articulate the way that an online community can help solve that, and it may be in a way that other things can’t, or can’t do as well.
It’s continually reframing it, taking a time-out with yourself when you get frustrated and you feel like you’ve been just trying to sell the same thing, and people are still talking about, “Well, we can do that for free”, or, “There’s too much risk”, or “We have a LISTSERV”, or whatever the answer is, or the hesitation is. Just being able to get past it and know that it might take time, but that “No” doesn’t mean “No” forever, and there’s still value in continuing to try to evangelize for that.
[00:04:55] Patrick O’Keefe: Answer problems, and have a whole, whole lot of patience. [laughs]
[00:05:00] Maggie McGary: Exactly.
[00:05:00] Patrick O’Keefe: [laughs] A whole lot of patience. Now, in one role, you said in the show it took literally three and a half years to get the internal buy in to launch an online community. What was the straw that probably broke the camel’s back. What happened?
[00:05:10] Maggie McGary: There was another thing where it was, “Hey, I heard about this thing and it would be really great for us.” “Yeah, no, I just don’t see the value.” Well, here’s the thing, we have this now and this now and this now and here’s the problem, here is some screenshots of this conversation is happening in four places and if we had this we could eliminate that because all these people being together.
Yes, I don’t really think that’s necessary when I need it. It was three years of that and then devilling it and people being like, “I still don’t understand what that was or why we need that.” Then all of a sudden, at a certain point from somewhere else up high in the association there because actually, this isn’t new like the strategic priority is engaging these special interest groups.
We do a newsletter now, but we’re looking for ways to engage them, “Well, that was that thing was that we met with them six months ago and everybody said no to.” “Yes, maybe we should have them come back in”, and then working with the vendor to say make it very clear. These are some things that you could focus on these or some pain points and ways that the platform can address that. Then all of the sudden it was like, “Oh my God, look at this.” This thing just does, it was like all the things came out of nowhere and then, in that organization, it turned out to be great and it’s grown and really done a lot of cool things.
[00:06:27] Patrick O’Keefe: It was an overnight realization but overnight success always takes a long time. [laughs]
[00:06:31] Maggie McGary: Exactly.
Chris if you were in front of this room of community builders right now, what’s something you’d like to talk about?
[00:06:44] Christopher Carfi: I think an interesting thing that is coming to mind is what is the right place or places for community? When I think about it, if we look back in time when we introduced you and I…It was a time where blogging was everything and social media was just getting started in communities. Were sort of understood but sort of not and evolving and you were going to Booker just had to put your book out.
If we flash forward to now, I think the places where individuals interact has evolved a lot. It’s not as much today around the individual’s place. Back then, folks had to run blogs and a lot of folks really had built up these big, big, big communities of commenters and such and there are still a number of individuals like that. Now, we’re starting to see a lot of things getting either subsumed into the sub-communities on social networks.
There are things that are happening on brand sites like our community so I think seeing how that evolution has taken place, that’s a really interesting change from a decade ago and so be — If I were in front of a room or in a room with other community builders, getting some other points of view to what others are seeing with respect to that shift and how and where communities form today versus the way they had historically done so, is that something that really has changed or is it just a blip right now or are we going to see a pendulum swing back to things more around the individual. Really trying to understand how those dynamics are played out in the near future.
[00:08:47] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s funny you mentioned that because I just wrote a blog post yesterday on my personal blog and not to make that out to be more than it is.
[00:08:53] Patrick: The last time I did that was November 7th, 2016 about the election and before that October 4th, 2015 so I’m on a one-post a year run now on my personal blog, which is awkward. I feel like you might feel the same with the socialcustomer.com blog. You’ve been around for a long time. I think I started my blog in ‘04, too and it’s like when I think about this, I want to say, and what I say about this is I think of it as a platform diversification, not death.
Meaning, people are in a rush to proclaim things dead, like this platform is dead, this is a Twitter killer, whatever. Blogging isn’t dead, forums aren’t dead, these are the platforms aren’t necessarily dead but I feel like more options made more unique uses available for those options, like they became more specialized. People spread out based upon that specialization. Is there anything there that sounds true to you? Is that what you think as well or should we just be moving in a totally different direction?
[00:09:45] Christopher Carfi: No, I think that does sound true and totally feel that individuals should also have their place and their trunk of digital real estate because we have seen plenty of big centralized platforms go away. That’s why I still have Social Customer, even though I don’t publish them nearly as often as I did, but still, that place that I know that I can have 100% control over the look and feel of the content and the persistence of what’s there.
There are other platforms for other types of interaction that’s for particular long form things that I want to do or explore or share or experiment with and that I want to have a long-term permanent record. I think having those personal platforms like blogs and such, and true for businesses as well. That’s the one place where they can — All businesses large or small can’t control their destiny if you will and really be in charge of the platform. They don’t have to worry about, “Hey, I put this thing up will everybody be able to see it if some algorithm changes next week?” Is not the case because you’re in control of that platform.
[00:11:04] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s like customer experience insurance. [laughs]
[00:11:06] Christopher Carfi: You’re genius. That’s exactly it.
[00:11:09] Patrick O’Keefe: You mentioned the pendulum swing, I feel and we’re not going to go back now was obviously, progress is good, there’s lots of great things about these changes. I feel this pendulum has swinging back and I felt that way strongest first when Facebook cut reach I think that’s the easy thing to point to for a lot of brands. Oh, wait a minute, [laughs] Facebook just cut our reach and now they’re charging us to get it back. Maybe we should take a look at diversification.
I do feel like the pendulum has swung, not fast, slow but I feel like we are getting a little better as far as owning some of the customer relationship again. Maybe the GoDaddy community launching is even further proof of that, that you’re investing in that. How do you see that pendulum going?
[00:11:50] Christopher Carfi: For us, we are very invested in making sure that we do have things that are on our domain so the community continuing to drive forward. We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of interesting conversations starting there at GoDaddy.com/Community so we’ve got those things going their continuing to invest and work on that front. We are doing the same on that blog and that extended community, and where we’re doing as well.
Again, we’re making sure that we are investing our effort and expertise in those things that we do have the ability to have some direct control of the outcomes.
[00:12:31] Patrick O’Keefe: Let’s pause for a moment here to talk about our excellent sponsor, Open Social.
Open Social is the community platform for nonprofits looking to coordinate volunteers and bring together stakeholders at a grassroots level. Hosting over 1,000 active communities, with Greenpeace Greenwire and several United Nations projects leading the way, Open Social has been proven to increase engagement within your community by up to 600%! Open Social is a Drupal-based open source solution, offering two fully maintained and hosted subscriptions starting at just $110 a month as well as a free do-it-yourself version.
Request a free trial today at getopensocial.com.
It’s time to end the millennial conversation. That’s the subject of the following segment with Kim England, the Global Community Director at Pearson.
Was there anything else from this conversation that came to mind that we didn’t discuss?
[00:13:23] Kim England: The thing that is at the top of my mind that when I talk to other community managers, is I really want us to do away with this millennial conversation. It drives me crazy. [chuckles]
[00:13:33] Patrick O’Keefe: I like that; keep going.
[00:13:34] Kim England: The idea that millennials act in a certain way within the workplace, especially around enterprise social networks, we need to reach the millennials, we need to have any of them because it’s what the millennials wanted, etcetera. Age is not a restriction in terms of who is active in our community and who isn’t. I think throwing this idea that we have millennials and other labels for people in the workplace is actually really divisive and I don’t think it’s helping when we start to think about how you engage employees. I really like to think about engaging employees based on their needs, their wants, and what they can get out of it and what’s in it for me. I think that kind of millennial discussion is really unhelpful and it’s something that I have a serious bee in my bonnet about.
[00:14:21] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s so funny you mentioned that. Millenials going to get blamed for a lot of things lately.
[00:14:25] Kim England: Yes.
[00:14:26] Patrick O’Keefe: I am a millennial, by the age range.
[00:14:30] Kim England: I am just. [chuckles]
[00:14:31] Patrick O’Keefe: Okay, there you go, so we’re both millennials. My favorite quote about my generation is from Sean Combs better known as Puff Daddy. He said at a business conference, “That millennial s-h-i-t is whack,” no one likes to be called that. [laughs] That was totally on point. The millennials get blamed for everything. I get to hear how entitled we are, all these things. I don’t know,it seems like a great big waste of time. It’s the talking point of the moment but I think in your community, first of all, in online communities, in general, we tend not to know age and that’s why a lot of the biggest contributors in online communities are teenagers.
Or people who if you walk by them on the street and they had something they wanted to tell you, you wouldn’t care, right? You would probably walk right by them, but in the communities space, because you can’t see them, you judge them based upon that knowledge. In the Neil community, does everyone have a headshot, like is it clear how old everyone is?
[00:15:23] Kim England: Yes, if people do have a headshot. But I would say is that when it comes to work situation the manual may behave quite differently because if you think about it, it’s like knowledge sharing, it’s about being confident in a subject matter expert especially in some of the communities that have associated to expertise. Some people who early in their working lives might not necessarily have the expertise, they might be really in listening, absorbing mode. They might not always have a lot to say and say. They won’t necessarily join the company and stop blocking or some of the behaviors that you might expect, status updating, an app mentioning and that kind of thing, because I think one of the things that sometimes you might see with people who are sort of earlier in their career is that protecting who they are and trying to grow their expertise by listening and absorbing and learning from others. Some of the people who have got a little bit more experience that we find might tend to be more in a sharing mode or sharing capacity because they’ve got more things to share.
I just think the stereotype doesn’t seem to fit so much within an ESN in a work environment as it might do into other social networking examples and that was really, really clear to me from the pitch, that Facebook, from what we’re doing at the event that I listened in a smile, they were giving us statistics about how many millennials will be in a workplace, but in the next 20 to 30 years. In this country and it’s the same in US and in many other countries, the working age is increasing. People are retiring much later in life. Just because we aren’t going to have more millennials, we’ve also got an aging population.
I think it’s just unhelpful to label people. I think it’s better to label people in terms of engaged, disengaged and then going hunt out why those people are either engaged or disengaged and looking into a little bit more detailed rather than trying to make a generalization. We really have done that 20, 30 years ago, I just don’t really see it as being something that is helpful now, personally.
[00:17:24] Patrick O’Keefe: I have to believe also you mentioned the idea of people saying ESNs are for millennials, right. I have to believe that that’s frustrating because it implies that this move to internal collaboration and ESNs is a fad almost that you’re older workers or I think millennials are ’82 forward, you’re people who are not that old but these older employees and workers in their late 30s, 40s and later, they won’t benefit from it or their careers won’t be advanced from using it and that is just totally bogus.
If you associate ESNs with millennials and that’s the reason you’re doing it to be more millennial-friendly, I have to think that’s a real suggestion, a real threat.
[00:18:03] Kim England: Yes, a recipe for disaster because your ESN will not be successful if you’re relying on the people within your organization who perhaps are under 30 to drive the activity, to drive the knowledge sharing, to drive the value that you could potentially get out of your ESN. The value comes from all places within your organization, all levels, all different experiences and you absolutely have to cater to all of these needs.
[00:18:30] Patrick O’Keefe: That’s interesting. In other words if you’re pitching your own ESN as being something for millennials, even if you don’t say it but just in the messaging or the photos you use when you’re promoting it, you actually might drive away contributions from people who wouldn’t describe themselves in that group and lose a lot of the value to the community.
[00:18:47] Kim England: Exactly.
[00:18:49] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s funny because for those of us who have been in the community space for a while, I still run a community, I started when I was in my mid-teens. In that community, people didn’t know my age, any more than I knew their age but I didn’t hide it. I would tell people but they didn’t know my age and so I’ve had 200 volunteer staff members over the years, around the world.
Some of our greatest contributors and volunteer staff members were people in their 50s and 60s and also people in their teens. They would be my staff but they are 60 and I’m 15. It wasn’t like there was any attitude because of that, it was just, “You’re really good. Here’s our policies. We worked together really well. We’re accomplishing these things together.” Just the notion that these tools could be for millennials.
I’m one, I guess, it doesn’t make me feel old but it’s going to get close here when I say [chuckles] the next tools are not for me anymore and not for millennials. It’s just crazy that notion having worked in community with people who were my elder, my senior by quite a while. Seeing them love the communities that I started and working with them, it’s just so, I don’t know where it comes from marketing speak somewhere but just the notion bothers me.
[00:20:04] Kim England: Yes, me too, [laughs] which is why I had to bring it up.
[00:20:09] Patrick O’Keefe: Well, I appreciate it.
Community builders have an incredible power and responsibility and how we can influence people and their media consumption positively and negatively. That’s the point made by Tracey Todd, the Digital Communications Director for the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
Tracey, if you were sitting in a room right now where you were standing in a room with community builders and I handed you a mic, what was something that you would talk about?
[00:20:34] Tracey Todd: I would say you have immense power in your hands if you’re in charge of any community. If you’re building a community, you’re at the very start of your journey. If you are in charge of any large following, you essentially have not overstepped but you’ve taken over the role of media provider. Your followers are going to look to you as a content provider whether your ambition is sports, pop culture, politics. I say, for community builders, it’s really important that you recognize the responsibility of that role and that power and impact of your post, to not really disregard the fact that there is immense power there, and a post could be literally life-changing, life-altering for any of your followers.
There’s a lot of power in having a large following and these are who marketers are going to, they’re going to influencers, people who have 20, 30, 50, hundred thousand followers, millions of followers. They really are overtaking media providers and media sites that have traditionally held a monopoly on access to advertisers. Their currency is clicks, likes impressions and following. Now, that’s where we sit. Community builders recognize the power that you have.
[00:22:01] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s like Charles Barkley and he said, “I don’t want to be a role model or I’m not a role model.” [laughs] He doesn’t have a choice. It’s not like you start a platform online, it might seem more community and it can be a very simple thing. A lot of really successful communities, a lot of the communities that lead the categories they’re in, no matter what you are interested in there’s a community for that probably that’s active and established and has a lot of people in it.
There is such a power, again, and it’s so much political on it’s up, so it’s not even a political power. It’s a power within the industries, a power within the topic, it’s a power within the world where if you are influential in knitting. [laughs] You say something about a knitting company or knitting news or you implicate someone in that industry, or someone in that community serves, in something that’s not true. Or you share something that’s wrong or something happens, it can impact a lot of people. It can impact people’s livelihoods, then personally, like no matter what it is we all have a level of influence. As you said, I think it can be life-changing.
[00:22:59] Tracey Todd: Absolutely.
[00:23:01] Patrick O’Keefe: What do you do when a disgruntled web hosting company employee decides to delete your community from the server it was on? That’s the challenge that faced Bob Hubbard, co-owner of Hubbard Photography and founder of MartialTalk.com, one of the web’s top martial arts communities.
What’s something that we didn’t talk about that you’d like to talk about?
[00:23:18] Bob Hubbard: Server backups.
[00:23:20] Patrick O’Keefe: Okay, server backups. Right because back in 2002, your community was hosted on a server in a data center that had a disgruntled employee and they wiped the data off the server. [laughs] How did you find out?
[00:023:32] Bob Hubbard: Basically at that point in time, I was running two communities. One was my sci-fi community, the other was Martial Talk. I’m literally sitting there watching my email stop connecting and checking the sites and I start getting site down notifications and as near as we could figure a disgruntled employee on his way out the door. Basically, just after just six or seven servers, ours being one of them, and he did a very thorough job. We were using the on-server backups that’s a lot of companies will offer you that spare drive they just shove in there, and he basically totaled everything.
We learned the hard way that one, make sure you have an off-server back up in a secure location that they can’t get to. Two, make sure you have a backup on your end. Martial Talk, I had luckily taken a backup about a week or two earlier so we only lost about one to two weeks of the actual content. My other site, unfortunately, I had never downloaded the backup and that got reset to zero in that community which was actually a few months older never recovered. I was never able to successfully rebuild it. Anybody who’s looking at starting one, it’s like be as redundant and anally over thinking your backups to make sure you have as many copies as possible because stuff happens and it could wipe out everything.
[00:24:51] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s scary and it reminds me of– phpBB had a reputation for poor security and I think that time, fortunately, carried over throughout the years even when they’ve been better. The peak of that was when I was running phpBB 1.2. There was a time period where our forum was hacked, three, four, five times and the hack results in full data loss. That’s the hack; it just deletes everything.
Thankfully, I had, I think it was on server backups. I had backups that we could just pull in. Losing anything is awful but we weren’t losing weeks, we were losing hours, a day. It was even more expensive then than it is now to do backups. Now, I pay for a VPS with Liquid Web which isn’t that much and I have S3 through WHM web hosting manager. I have it back up to S3 every night and that costs me a $1.90 a month for the S3 Amazon S3 space. I have an outside backup and to this day it’s because of the paranoia.
It’s not paranoia, it’s just because of that feeling that you talk about right there. I have cued FTP pulling automatic downloads of SQL files onto my own personal computer so that I have really three versions that are at least within 24 to 48 hours old. The live one, the one on the server that’s backed up or four, I’m sorry, the one on my computer and the one at S3. Also, I have external hard drives on my computer that those are then backed up to. Really, it’s like five copies on four different drives.
It’s that feeling, that fear that healthy fear where it’s the fear that comes from losing everything but not because you’ve realized you have a backup. When you almost had a catastrophe that scared you forever.
[00:26:34] Bob Hubbard: You can never have enough backups. My own photography stuff is backed up triplely redundant at this point. I actually have to start remembering to take a drive every week out to my safe deposit box and drop it in there so that I have an off location drive backup. We use Liquid Web for the last couple of years and they’re still our host. I sold my hosting company to one of my biggest resellers. We just swapped shirts, as it were, he’s got the Comancher, I’m down in the engine room making sure the server runs. We’ve got all their backups. We’ve got on server, we’ve got their Guardian system that every 10 minutes takes a snapshot of the server.
You cannot have enough backups because they get corrupted every so often. We jokingly say that the data center we’re in could take a direct hit from a nuke and we could be up and running in a couple of hours at the secondary site. You want that level of protection. It’s not so critical on a WordPress site you update once every couple of weeks. On a forum type of community where you’ve got that constant back and forth you just want to make sure that somebody took the time to make that comment, make sure it’s there later.
[00:27:45] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, definitely, the way we’re heading right now that nuke scenario might not [laughs] be as far-fetched as it once was. [laughs]
[00:27:52] Bob Hubbard: I’m just going to wrap myself with aluminum foil.
[00:27:56] Bob Hubbard: Or lead foil, heavy lead foil. [laughs]
[00:28:00] Patrick O’Keefe: In this next clip with Bob, we talk about how he created a spin-off of his existing community for members who wanted less moderation.
[00:28:07] Bob Hubbard: The original plan that I had was to run 12 forums. I never quite hit it but I was into a sci-fi one, the martial arts one, and I was literally looking at other niches. I didn’t quite get that far but the sci-fi one, we had a couple of relationships from people there. With Martial Talk, we had at least one couple that met and got married. I’ve had a lot of people who found instructors, they found training partners, they found information, they got information on how to run their schools better, they were able to book seminars. It was great networking. We rolled off a couple of years in Kenpo Talk and Martial Talk’s Kenpo committee because it was one of the core parts of it originally. We ran into a lot of the guys who they didn’t want heavy moderation. They didn’t want to stay specifically on topic. They wanted to chat. They wanted to drift a little bit. Martial Talk’s focus was, stay on target because we had so much drift. We launched a spin-off community that the attitude was less rules, less moderation, you guys say you don’t want to be babysat. We’re going to let you work yourself out, as long as it stays below this particular point, we’re not even going to get involved. Completely different mindset and it worked. We had some people who stayed on one. We had other who just transitioned completely to the other. At the core, it was the same concept.
[00:29:32] Patrick O’Keefe: Finally, in this last clip, I am joined by community veteran Scott Moore, formerly of Answers.com, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and Fujitsu, and Venessa Paech founder of Swarm Conference and community manager for Australia Post to expand on our conversation about Facebook’s problematic moderator training materials.
All right, that’s the episode, now let’s do a quick little bonus thing. I have a quick question that I think might lead to some interesting conversation real quick with our remaining time here.
[00:29:58] Venessa Paech: I’m so excited [laughter].
[00:30:02] Scott Moore: Dude, can we cuss?
[00:30:05] Scott Moore: I’m kidding. [laughs]
[00:30:04] Patrick O’Keefe: I’ve said the “b” word a couple times in the episode but that was for emphasis.
[00:30:10] Venessa Paech: Illustrative.
[00:30:12] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, it was illustrative purposes.
[00:30:13] Scott Moore: Yes, you’re…I’m kidding.
[00:30:14] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, here’s what I want to ask. Was there anything else that stood out to you from these documents? Like for example, one thing that stood out to me is that, if you have more than 100,000 followers on any social media platform or you have been mentioned by name or title, in the title or subtitle of five, just five or more news articles or media pieces within the last two years, you aren’t entitled to Facebook’s full protections, especially as they apply to bullying. Was there anything that stood out to either of you?
[00:30:41] Scott Moore: I think I’m reeling from that one, though. How many times in two years? Five times in two years?
[00:30:46] Patrick O’Keefe: Five. If your name is in the title of an article, in news articles, who knows what news media pieces. It doesn’t say like the New York Times, news media pieces within two years, five times two years, you are viewed as a public persona, no longer a private citizen.
[00:30:59] Scott Moore: That’s insane. I’m thinking of all kinds of academic friends that I have that get voted for various things. Five times in two years sure, but wow, suddenly they lose protections, that’s crazy.
[00:31:13] Venessa Paech: Yes, we’ve had a few really high-profile cases of bullying of some public women in Australia and I’m sure internationally as well, who have fallen into this exact category, and this is a bugbear of mine as well. They’ve been told, they don’t necessarily have a public page, they’re just an individual on Facebook but they have a bit of an identity and they commentate on things.
Basically, they have a voice so they’re penalized for having a voice and suddenly daily tirades of graphic threats against life and limb. Sorry can’t protect you, it’s not against standards if you have a voice in the public.
[00:31:45] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s amazing and maybe this is just I’ll throw out a few crazy things I saw and see how you both react, that’s what I’m going to do.
[00:31:52] Patrick O’Keefe: The other one I saw was, they’ll delete Holocaust et al content but only in the four countries where they think they may be sued for it.
[00:32:00] Venessa Paech: [laughs] That’s my reaction.
[00:32:01] Scott Moore: Actually, this made me all run back to their Terms of Service because I do that.
[00:32:07] Patrick O’Keefe: Thanks for being the one person who reads them, Scott.
[00:32:09] Scott Moore: [laughs] There’s a couple of things that stood out. They have, you will not bully, intimidate or harass a new user, however, a lot of the documents that were leaked at least the parts that we saw from Pro Publica and The Guardian, we’re talking a lot about credible threats. I was like, “There’s a huge difference between a credible threat and just harassing somebody,” yet harassing somebody is supposed to be against Terms of Service so where’s that?
Here’s the thing to your point regarding about being sued, this is a quote from there again. I will quote in their termination section, “If you violate the letter or spirit of the statement or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop you from blah blah blah.” I was going to start this conversation with Facebook is not your friend and I’m going to end it with that. Facebook is not your friend.
[00:32:58] Venessa Paech: That’s possibly the most honest thing that they’ve ever written.
[00:33:00] Scott Moore: Yes, true. [laughs]
[00:33:03] Patrick O’Keefe: I’ll throw one more thing out there and then we got to go. there are also weird inconsistencies to do with images, like for example, it’s cited singer Rihanna was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of another singer Chris Brown and according to this document, you can say “Rihanna, why are you working with Chris Brown again? Beats me.” But only if you don’t include an image of the singer with that.
In another slide according to the Guardian, they show a picture of a wrestler tearing off his shirt with the caption, “When you find out your daughter likes black guys” but this is okay because the wrestler in the photo is not black. We talked about moderation, clean lines is what I say to my moderators, we want clean lines of moderation, definable standards we can consistently adhere to.
Allow it, don’t allow it, I wouldn’t allow that. This image related inconsistency just makes the job of these poor moderators so much harder than it needs to be.
[00:33:55] Venessa Paech: I have so much sympathy for all the baiting up with due course to Facebook’s policies and practices. I have so much sympathy for these moderators, they’re living in it octopus nightmare of policy. How do you prosecute this kind of stuff? It’s just ridiculous, no wonder they’re confused and freaked out and it’s insane. Sometimes it feels to me like these things were written by a robot. Maybe there is an artificial intelligence behind it all or a room of lawyers possibly the same.
[00:34:22] Scott Moore: I vote for a room of lawyers.
[00:34:24] Participant 1: What’s the difference? Sorry, Scott, go ahead.
[00:34:28] Scott Moore: One of the things that stood out to me was that a lot of those examples throughout the moderation policy removed context. They took it down to these micro things, even to the point with like you just said, separating the image context from the text context and there’s literally a part that says, “We don’t take action on the image, we only take action based on the text that is accompanied with the image.”
That removes not only the context of who posted it, where they posted it, who they posted it to, all these micro things and not only does it make it hard to review these moderation policies but as Venessa said, it makes it really hard to actually enact them because you’re enacting them in such a tiny portion and context is everything when we’re talking about community and behavior online.
[00:35:18] Venessa Paech: Absolutely, if context is just left by the wayside with all of this stuff, I don’t really know why, I don’t know if it’s just because context is tricky to scale but context makes moderation easier and more efficient, I would argue. It might make it more challenging in a few areas, but without context, you can’t possibly do this stuff. It does explain why so many of the moderation decisions when you see the outcome, you’re left scratching your head because you feel the absence of context. Why A and not B? Why that and not that? Why the picture of the woman breastfeeding but not the porn stars or the picture with graphic rake. It just makes no sense.
[00:35:54] Scott Moore: Yes, what I would say, the thing I’ll finish with is Facebook has so much data and they could be providing tools. It is hard, I’m not going to pretend this isn’t hard. It’s trying to simplify something because you’re handling these and I’ve written moderation policies for some contractor to go handle, and it’s super hard, even for simple stuff.
Facebook is the huge data company and there’s a lot of smart people who are analyzing that data and there are tools that you could provide that could say, “Here’s the post and here’s a short little social network map of who it got posted to and maybe there’s some additional information.”
There’s a weighting score you can put around that, how many votes have liked this before? There’s all kinds of systems that you do that don’t have to make the decisions but they could certainly help the moderators with context and Facebook has the intelligence and the money to be able to put that behind there and it would be great to see them do that kind of thing.
That would be taking leadership in the world of fostering global communities and global content.
[00:36:58] Venessa Paech: That would earn them the right to put community front and center in their mission statement, will start to earn them the right to do that, which they haven’t done yet.
[00:37:06] Patrick O’Keefe: Since we have a lot of people featured in today’s episode, I’m going to list them all in order of appearance with a place that you can find them online. Find Maggie McGarry at mizzinformation.com, that’s mizz with two Zs. Christopher Carfi on Twitter @ccarfi. Kim Pearson at sociuscommunity.wordpress.com, that’s S-O-C-I-U-Scommmunity.wordpress.com. Tracy Todd at traceytodd.com, T-R-A-C-E-Ytodd.com. Bob Hubbard at hubbardphotos.com. Scott Moore on Twitter @scottmoore. And Venessa Paech at venessapaech.com, Paech is spelled P-A-E-C-H.
Thank you to Maggie, Chris, Kim, Tracy, Bob, Scott and Venessa for sharing their insights with us and we’ll link to the full episodes that these bonus clips respond from in the show notes for this one.
For the transcript from this episode plus highlights and links that we mentioned, please visit communitysignal.com. Community Signal is produced by Karn Broad and we’ll be back next week.
[00:38:16] [END OF AUDIO]
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