Kickstarter’s Community Wants Your Next Crowdfunding Campaign to Be Successful
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
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: Higher Logic.
“Our long-term metric is ‘Okay, if a creator has read the Creator Handbook, what are their chances at running a successful project?’ Because that’s why we’re here. That’s what we want to help people do. We want to help them bring their creative vision to life. That’s the whole point of [our community] resources.” -@CarAnnBen
“[We want to serve] the right information and right tools to people at the right moment, because someone can be an expert in running a project or an expert in using Kickstarter, but we still have to be there for them.” -@CarAnnBen
“I think that it can be pretty easy to write a tweet that’s going to get some likes and maybe some retweets. … Those things are not meaningful interactions, and it doesn’t even feel like real data; it feels very aesthetic. I just always want to challenge myself and the people around me to dig deeper than that. We’re not trying to drive clicks, or retweets, or whatever, we’re trying to have conversations and help people be successful and help people be creative. That’s not something you can measure with things like that.” -@CarAnnBen
About Carol Benovic-Bradley
Carol Benovic-Bradley is the senior content manager at Kickstarter. She makes resources to help creators run great projects, is part of the voice behind @KickstarterTips and helps with community initiatives, like Campus. When she’s not doing that, she’s drinking coffee, watching wrestling and helping support and community professionals with the rest of the @WeSupport crew.
- We Support, a resource for community and support professionals, co-managed by Carol
- Community.is, a resource for “anyone who puts people at the center of their work,” from previous Community Signal guest Sarah Judd Welch
- Kickstarter, where Carol is senior content manager
- Zendesk, helpdesk software utilized by Kickstarter’s community support team
- Kickstarter on Twitter
- Kickstarter on Facebook
- Kickstarter on Instagram
- Kickstarter’s Happening, providing the latest news “from Kickstarter, our community and beyond”
- Kickstarter’s Campus, a Q&A community for creators
- Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook, which Carol contributes to
- I’ve Run KarateForums.com for 10+ Years and I’m Not a Martial Artist by Patrick
- Max Temkin, a game creator who has run multiple successful Kickstarter campaigns
- Kickstarter’s Collaborators feature
- Here’s How to Solve Your “Diversity Problem”… by Carol
- Details on Kickstarter’s expansion into Hong Kong and Singapore
- Kickstarter’s private Facebook group for potential Kickstarter creators in Hong Kong and Singapore
- Kickstarter’s Community Guidelines, which Carol helped write
- Medium’s rules
- I’m a Black Man. Here’s What Happened When I Booked an Airbnb by Rohan Gilkes
- Comment referenced by Patrick, in response to the above article
- Warning: Pokemon Go is a Death Sentence if You Are a Black Man by Omari Akil
- Comment referenced by Patrick, in response to the above article
- National Football League and Twitter Announce Streaming Partnership for Thursday Night Football
- Carol’s website
- Carol on Twitter
- Carol on Medium
- Kickstarter’s blog, where Carol contributes
00:04: You’re listening to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals, sponsored by Higher Logic, the community platform for community managers. Tweet as you listen using #communitysignal. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
00:24 Patrick O’Keefe: Hello and welcome back to Community Signal. After a week off, we are once again back with another great guest, Carol Benovic-Bradley. Carol is the senior content manager at Kickstarter. She makes resources to help creators run great projects, is part of the voice behind @KickstarterTips on Twitter, and helps with community initiatives like Kickstarter’s Campus. When she’s not doing that, she’s drinking coffee, watching wrestling and helping support, and community professionals with the rest of the @WeSupport crew. Carol, welcome to the program.
00:54 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Hey Patrick. Thanks for having me.
00:56 Patrick O’Keefe: It is a pleasure to have you. And I had someone ask me just last night, what community industry resources am I paying attention to these days? The context of the question was, I’ve been in this space for a while, and what websites, what communities, what Facebook groups, what newsletters, etcetera am I reading right now to help me grow? And I had to think for a moment because frankly, I’m not into a lot of the resources right now because I’m not finding a value or because I talk to everyone and I hear stories, and I’ve learned of ethical issues and things that have just turned me away. But the one resource that came to my mind immediately was We Support.
01:32 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Whoa. Thanks.
01:33 Patrick O’Keefe: You’re welcome. And I’m totally honest here, because it’s become my favorite resource and I look forward to receiving the email every week. I go through the article list, I look at the jobs, I look at anything that’s included in the newsletter. So outside of Community.is and random interesting articles and articles written by specific people that I respect, I’m really not paying attention to much else. So I really do enjoy the newsletter and I realize it’s a team effort, it’s not just you, but I’m definitely enjoying it, so thank you for creating it.
02:00 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Oh. Well, thank you for being such a great subscriber and to anyone else listening who’s subscribed or who follows us on Twitter. Me and the rest of the crew really respect everyone’s time and wanna share things that we think, know are useful to us and would be useful to our colleagues. We hold ourself to that high standard and it’s great to hear that you enjoy opening it and reading through everything every week.
02:23 Patrick O’Keefe: Awesome. And I think you live up to that standard because once in a long while, you’ll include a podcast I did which means that one was particularly good, [chuckle] but they’re not all that great. It’s important, it keeps me honest. It’s like “This week I didn’t do that great of a job. It didn’t make We Support, so I wait for those times when it makes the cut. [laughter]
02:38 Carol Benovic-Bradley: We try to include a variety of voices. We would of course love to include you quite often, but we try to sneak other people in there.
02:46 Patrick O’Keefe: Oh no. Yeah, you have to have that diversity which is a topic we’ll talk about later today. Yeah, I definitely… Yeah, it’ll give you a little boost in my step, when I see the Community Signal show featured in the We Support newsletter. So, let’s get down to business. You are part of the community education team at Kickstarter which might soon be renamed “learning and engagement,” but this all falls under the larger community team. What else falls under the community team at Kickstarter?
03:10 Carol Benovic-Bradley: The other teams include community support, curation and engagement, our events team, and also our outreach team. Our community support team handles a lot of inbound inquiries through Zendesk from creators, backers, the rest of the people who write in. And then our outreach team kind of is our out in the world talking to people team, they’re the ones talking to creators about their ideas. A lot of these people are experts in some of the 15 categories on Kickstarter, so our head of games makes games of his own and runs D&D campaigns at Kickstarter. He’s completely immersed and spends all of his time talking to other people who make games.
03:52 Carol Benovic-Bradley: And then our curation and engagement team runs a lot of our social media channels, so Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. They’re also in charge of our newsletters, like Happening, which a lot of people are subscribed to if they’re fans of Kickstarter. And then, our events team runs great events, both at our office and out in the world. At Sundance, we host an annual film festival, we just did a big block party type party in the park thing with the local community in Brooklyn, New York. And then the community education team, soon to be learning and engagement, focuses on making resources that instead of being one to one, like a lot of the other teams are, are one to many. So taking all the knowledge and conversations that the other teams have with creators and making those scalable to everyone who’s interested in Kickstarter.
04:37 Patrick O’Keefe: And ballpark, how big is that team, the community team?
04:40 Carol Benovic-Bradley: It’s about 30-ish people, probably 35.
04:44 Patrick O’Keefe: And how big is Kickstarter these days?
04:46 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Kickstarter is around 115.
04:48 Patrick O’Keefe: Okay. That’s a pretty good ratio, 30 out of 115, definitely a community first organization.
04:53 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Yeah, I’d say so.
04:55 Patrick O’Keefe: There’s nothing without the community, so it’s… Yeah, it’s very safe to say. When I talk to B2B companies and companies that are tools and especially platforms for commerce, when I talk to them about community, I often pitch them on community being their greatest source of best practices for their platform. And at a lot of organizations, best practices get tied up with high value clients or their account managers, and they don’t always get shared with the clients who make and generate less revenue, even though they might be the ones that need it most.
05:24 Patrick O’Keefe: Now, you have Campus which is a Q&A community for creators and you have an excellent Creator Handbook, a document that guides creators through a successful Kickstarter campaign. And there are many pointers to Campus in these documents including links and related questions highlighted in specific sections of the handbook. And so you’re pushing creators toward Campus to get advice from other creators. Flipping that around, how are you going to utilize Campus to improve the best practice recommendations and guidelines? How are you gonna learn from those Q&A and from these amazing creators sharing advice and then push that content and that advice back into your published documents and standards?
05:57 Carol Benovic-Bradley: That right there is my job. From the day I’ve started at Kickstarter, I’ve been listening to what creators have to say. I’ve been listening to what backers have to say. When I talk to my colleagues, I listen to what creators and backers have told them about using Kickstarter. I myself haven’t run a project. I’ve backed many. I have spoken to many creators myself, but this isn’t an experience that I can pretend to be an expert in. And I don’t have to quite frankly, because I do have that huge community of creative people behind me every day and I don’t hesitate to ask them questions and Campus is a great way for us to be exposed to those conversations on a daily basis. So when I see an interesting question coming in on Campus, and we do have an email feed, so we see things… Those are coming in and it’s pretty exciting. But when I see an interesting question come in, I immediately subscribe. And I know there are a few people that learn from Campus, that are creators that are gonna respond right away. But if I think that a question needs more answers or needs more diversity of thought, we might go ahead and even seed a few answers.
07:04 Carol Benovic-Bradley: We might get someone internally to answer. We might reach out to a few creators that we know had that question and mastered it and asked them to answer. And then once we’ve kind of got a nice pool of knowledge around that cool question, then yes, it’s kind of onto me to elevate that and make that conversation available to more people. So, like you mentioned, I might go in and add it to the Creator Handbook. I might go in and add it to our creator onboarding email series that every creator gets when they start a project. One of my colleagues might do a blog post around that conversation if we think that it’s relevant or important enough. So, yeah. Once those conversations start happening on Campus, it’s on us to figure out “Where do creators have this question and how can we insert this into the right moments of the Kickstarter experience?”
07:52 Patrick O’Keefe: I like that you mentioned… Well, I like everything you said there, but I like that you mentioned that you’re not a creator. And I’ve talked about building communities in areas where you’re not necessarily of the community, and I was curious to see if you felt that not being a creator was a benefit to you in some ways as you go about your job?
08:09 Carol Benovic-Bradley: That’s a good question. I think that like most people on support teams, when you start, you really wanna get ingrained into what the product is that you’re supporting, who is in the community that you’re supporting. So, everyone who joins the team, I think is really encouraged to do that. Everyone on our Kickstarter support team is an expert on the Kickstarter product and I think that just makes our jobs a little bit easier when we move on to different teams. It certainly made mine a lot easier. So, yeah. I guess it is a little bit of an advantage and it also makes us assets internally, I think.
08:44 Patrick O’Keefe: I would like to take a moment to recognize our excellent sponsor, Higher Logic.
Higher Logic is the community platform for community managers. With over 25 million engaged users in more than 200,000 communities, organizations worldwide use Higher Logic to bring like-minded people together, by giving their community a home where they can meet, share ideas and stay connected. The platform’s granular permissions and powerful tools, including automated workflows and consolidated email digests, empower users to create their own interest-based communities, schedule and manage events, and participate in volunteer and mentoring programs. Tap into the power your community can generate for you. Higher Logic – all together.
How are you measuring the success or the ROI [chuckle] of educational efforts?
09:28 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Another good question. So, I guess I should say that the community education team at Kickstarter is very new. It actually just started this past January, so measuring our efforts is something that we’re talking about constantly and actually still figuring out. Right now, the baseline for us is, are people reading these things? When are they reading these things? Are they coming back once or twice? Or are they just opening an email, clicking through and just walking away? And then our long-term metric is “Okay, if a creator has read the Creator Handbook, what are their chances at running a successful project?” Because that’s why we’re here. That’s what we wanna see. That’s what we wanna help people do. We wanna help them bring their creative vision to life and that’s the whole point of these resources and Campus. So that’s kind of the end game.
10:15 Patrick O’Keefe: That makes sense. I mean you can see, it sounds like when people read the handbook and maybe if they visit Campus and if they ask a question that’s successfully answered, and things like that. And then you can look and see, perhaps, are they more likely to be successful than someone who never steps foot in those things? And hopefully, the answer is yes and overwhelmingly yes. [laughter]
10:34 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Yes [chuckle], that’s what we’re aiming for. But also, what’s important is us figuring out the right cocktail of those things kind of, and the timing of those things. ‘Cause if a creator doesn’t get exposed to Campus until after they finish running their project, then that might not be very helpful. So, I lurk on a lot of our creators on Twitter. I guess that’s part of my job, but I noticed Max Temkin, who runs games projects on Kickstarter, was doing an AMA in his comments, which isn’t a very common thing for creators to do on Kickstarter itself. Sometimes they go on Reddit or Facebook live and do things like this, so I was really intrigued and I was like “Okay, I have to be around for this.” So, I saw that he was hosting this AMA, and again, this guy has run multiple projects, and I saw that one of his collaborators was helping him out with the AMA but they weren’t using this new collaborators feature that we rolled out earlier this year, that basically gives people on your team access to help with things like commenting or posting updates. And for me, it was like, “Oh, I’m a failure.” I was like, “Oh my gosh! Where in the product did we not tell Max about collaborators? How did we miss this? How did he miss this?” So I instantly jumped into the comments and I was like, “Hey, Carol from Kickstarter here. Just wondering why you’re not using the collaborators feature. It can help with commenting if you have other teammates helping out.”
12:00 Carol Benovic-Bradley: And they instantly started using it. And that for me, was kind of a success, but it was also an indicator that, “Hey, I need to go back through Kickstarter and the product life cycle and see where we need to be telling creators about this, ’cause clearly, we’re not doing that great of a job”. So, I think that’s just one example of serving the right information and right tools to people at the right moment, because someone can even be an expert in running a project or an expert in using Kickstarter, but we still have to be there for them. We can still provide something useful and I consider that my job.
12:35 Patrick O’Keefe: In the pre-show guest survey, you said that you are interested in how communities are measuring success, especially, where money doesn’t come into play. You said, “I think that data is often noisy and distracting from the big picture,” how do you mean?
12:48 Carol Benovic-Bradley: I think when I said that, I was thinking a lot about social media in particular. I see a lot of people doing things that seem like they’re just for clicks. It seems like the click baitiness of the World Wide Web is now on Facebook and Twitter [chuckle] and I think that it can be pretty easy to write a tweet that’s gonna get some likes and maybe some retweets. But then you dig a little deeper and you see that people didn’t click through, or maybe people did click through and they bounced off that page right away. Those things are not meaningful interactions and it doesn’t even feel like real data, it feels very aesthetic. So I kind of just always wanna challenge myself and my teammates and the people around me to dig deeper than that. And remember that we’re not trying to drive clicks, or retweets, or whatever, we’re trying to have conversations and help people be as successful and help people be creative. That’s not something you can measure with things like that.
13:45 Patrick O’Keefe: Right, and for the most part, most businesses aren’t in the business of like… Clicks don’t feed me, right?
13:51 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Right. Exactly.
13:52 Patrick O’Keefe: I don’t eat clicks tonight for dinner.
13:54 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Exactly.
13:55 Patrick O’Keefe: And so, it’s kind of… You might’ve used the word surface, if you didn’t, I’ll use it here. Surface level kind of vanity metrics, moving beyond those sorts of things and looking at, I think as you highlighted, what are people doing after they do this? What are people doing after they can consume this? Are they becoming successful users of X? You talked about bounce rate. There’s things, time on the page, and again, what people do afterward, very important, deeper, more meaningful things. And it’s not to say those sorts of metrics don’t have a place, like retweets and likes and whatnot, but I’m sure like a lot of people, I get a lot of those things from ghost accounts anyway. So, unless the ghost is gonna give me some money later, in which case I’ll be very happy to take ghost money.
14:32 Carol Benovic-Bradley: That would be great. [chuckle]
14:33 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, that would be wonderful. Otherwise, you have to kinda think about… I don’t know, the goal of the content. And the goal of the content is not simply to get traffic, it’s to get traffic that actually does something. Right?
14:43 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Absolutely, yes.
14:45 Patrick O’Keefe: Let’s talk about diversity. Fun topic. Big topic. [chuckle] You’ve written a lot about it. I’ve read a lot of the stuff you’ve written, actually. Before you linked to it in the pre-show questionnaire, I’ve read it. I’ve read it through your Twitter, through other ways, so believe that or not, but it’s the truth. And you told me that “The work of making sure you’re making room for all types of voices in your community is a must, and once those people are there, making sure that you’re creating a safe space for them is equally important”. I started launching my own communities when I was 15, and I don’t even know if diversity was a word that I knew. But at that point in time, what I wanted to do as a 15-year-old, was to create what I referred to as respectful communities. And eventually, many years later, I came to see that as inclusive communities. But at 15, I was more interested in ensuring a level playing field for all people who are interested in discussing the topic of my community. When we talk about making room for these voices, how do you go about making room for diverse voices in your community?
15:47 Carol Benovic-Bradley: I love this question. [chuckle] Well, an example of how we’ve done this recently, the Kickstarter office is located in Brooklyn, New York. And of course, lots of creators live near our office, lots of them get to come visit us, but that’s not something afforded to everyone. And of course, we can’t always talk to everyone who comes our way. So, we recently launched in new countries, in Hong Kong and Singapore and one thing that I wanted to try out was making the community education team as accessible as possible to this group of creators to ensure that they have as good a chance of success as anyone else who uses the platform, if not better, [chuckle] hopefully. So, we started a private Facebook group and invited people from those countries who we thought might be interested in running a project and who found out about it from our blog or wherever else we were sharing this. And the group has been up for about a month, or maybe a little bit longer now, and it’s got about 400 creators in it. And it’s just such a vibrant place of people sharing their ideas with each other, sharing their ideas with us.
16:56 Carol Benovic-Bradley: We’ve tried out Facebook live to do two live Q&As with this group, and in the second one, they were like, “Hey, welcome back, Carol. Great to see you again.” And in my role, I don’t often get to talk to creators face to face, I talk to a lot of people internally. So, for me, it was just such a warm, great moment, for me to be available to these people, to answer all of the questions they had about using Kickstarter, and to say that our team is there for them. They can use this platform just like anyone in Brooklyn, New York can, or wherever else in the world. And also that we’re looking forward to seeing those ideas for them and it’s amazing to see them be receptive to that, it’s amazing to be a part of that creative, energetic vibe. And I love it, the team loves it internally, and we’re looking forward to doing more things like that for more communities now. So I think it was just a great win all around.
17:51 Patrick O’Keefe: It sounds like you’re talking about creating a specific resource for a targeted group. Right? In this case, Singapore and Hong Kong.
17:57 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Yep.
17:57 Patrick O’Keefe: And then, to help them feel more comfortable. I don’t see other people from Singapore when I go to kickstarter.com, or I don’t see people like me. So you’re creating a group where they can be with like-minded people. And then I guess the end goal is to make them more comfortable to bring them into the wider kickstarter.com. It’s sort of an introduction. Is that fair, wrong, what do you think about that?
18:21 Carol Benovic-Bradley: That’s fair, and I think for me personally, is like “Yes, Kickstarter is coming to a new country”, but these creators have always been there. These creators have always made things and I feel like for me, this is a way of extending a handshake almost. This is my way of being on the ground there with you when this exciting thing is happening.” Maybe you know people who have run creative projects on other platforms like people in Hong Kong and Singapore know about crowdfunding. Doing this, I think what makes Kickstarter unique is that we’re kind of there with you, doing this with you there every step of the way. So, for me at least, it’s not really getting them comfortable with Kickstarter the platform or Kickstarter the community, because actually, those communities do have very strong backer presence on Kickstarter, so they kind of know the game. But for me, it’s kind of introducing who we are and why we did this, and why we think they are important, and why we want to see their creative ideas on the site too.
19:23 Patrick O’Keefe: When I think about creating a diverse community, three things come to mind. I think you have to care about diversity, which is something I’ve seen you say before in your writing. You have to actually care and want to do it, it’s not just fill in the boxes, hire a certain number of people type thing. You have to care about it. And then I think for community, you have to kind of write codified policies that speak to the problematic behaviors that threaten diversity, and then actually act on those policies and ensure they are not just lip service. When it comes to content on kickstarter.com, when it comes to listings, comments, whatever, how does Kickstarter go about ensuring that there aren’t campaigns started that threaten diversity. There aren’t people trying to raise money on Kickstarter that threaten the wider diversity of the platform, make other people question why they are there. How does Kickstarter ensure that happens?
20:14 Carol Benovic-Bradley: That’s a great question. So, we do have rules on Kickstarter and it’s funny ’cause I actually helped write our community guidelines three years ago, [chuckle] which was a very fun project. But one of the core tenets of those guidelines, actually, it’s a four-word sentence with a big red X next to is, “Don’t be a jerk.” And this is something that we take very seriously. And I’m not on our integrity team that reviews projects, but they look at every project with these rules in mind, and they look at every project with our community in mind. And if there is something that’s not creative or not in honor of those rules or the community itself, then we’re not going to allow it. We don’t have anything to lose by doing that. We gain community by fostering trust. That’s also something that’s in our rules. Projects must be honest and clearly represented. Projects can’t mislead people or represent facts. Creators should be candid about what they plan to accomplish.
21:15 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Our community exists to share creative ideas and support new things and to bring things together, and if things are naturally not inclusive and hateful or hurtful in any way, we just have a zero tolerance policy for that. And we do rely on our community heavily to report those things to us, and we’re really in debt to them for that because they’re good at spotting those things and bringing them to our attention, and calling us out when they think we need to act a little bit faster. So, it’s something that we have to think about every day. It’s not something that’s ever going to go away, but when we do see a project like this and we feel like we have to talk about it as a group we do, but I think our rules and our guidelines put us in a good place to make these decisions very easily and so does our community. [chuckle]
22:09 Patrick O’Keefe: Let’s get away from Kickstarter. Let’s just talk about community and diversity and just being a person on the internet and how you view platforms. So, I’m curious to hear how you view publishing platforms. As a writer, as someone who writes about diversity, as someone who uses these spaces, publishing platforms that sometimes play with community language and talk about being a community but are really a publishing platform first. I think of Medium in this way. You publish on Medium, I publish on Medium. Medium has a policy on “hateful slurs” that says the following, “We think free expression deserves a lot of leeway, so we generally think that the best response to hateful speech is more speech, not censorship. Still, we reserve the right to take down hateful slurs, which tend to silence others while adding little, if anything.” What led into this? This year, probably the last few months, there were two Medium response posts that I have reported myself with the thought that they might be in violation of this policy. One was on an article titled I’m a Black Man, Here’s What Happened when I Booked an Airbnb.
23:11 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Oh yes, I remember them.
23:13 Patrick O’Keefe: That was a popular article and there was a comment on it, and I’m also gonna read the full comment, it’s not that long. The full comment was, “I feel bad for you but there are black taxi drivers who won’t go into certain neighborhoods, are they racist? Respect has to be earned and unfortunately your race hasn’t earned it yet. Hopefully in the future it will.” And the key thing is there was the “your race hasn’t earned it yet,” in my opinion. I reported that. It was not taken down. Another post was warning, Pokemon Go is a Death Sentence if You Are a Black Man. That was another article I read, and there was a full comment on that. This is literally the whole comment. “This whole post is autistic.” That’s it, that’s the whole comment and I reported that. And it was not taken down, and it’s hard to see how that represents more speech. And of course, I am a member of this industry. I love this industry. I’ve been in it for so long. There is no bigger supporter, fan, sympathizer, understander, right? I don’t want to sound like Donald Trump there. [chuckle]
24:02 Patrick O’Keefe: But I really believe in the people in this industry. And one can always blame moderation queues and tax community teams, and I’m sympathetic but I also hold us to a standard. And I personally reported both of these, and as a user, when I report something, I assume that someone sees it. I assume that there was a decision made and it was decided that it was best locked up. But, we talk about creating a safe space. I don’t think either of those comments create a safe space for black people or for autistic people. But, like I said, Medium is a publishing platform first, similar to Twitter, and on a much larger scale, Twitter deals with a similar type of thing, and they are not in the easiest of spots, I’m not here to just endlessly flog Twitter. But do you think that publishing platforms like this should be handling these matter differently in the name of diversity or even civility? Or is “more speech” an answer that you can live with?
24:47 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Well, I do like the last clause of what you read from their community guidelines, that what someone else is saying shouldn’t inhibit someone else from saying anything. And I do think at least one of those comments are very inhibiting, so I’m surprised but at the same time, I do like the work that Medium is doing to elevate specific voices in our community. And I have seen them doing a better job of that recently. I don’t know if it’s their recommendation system is getting better, but I do see them putting work in. And for me, it does feel like a good space for me to share my ideas, at least with the people that I know are interested or are going to read them. Do I think it could be better? Yes. Do I think that a lot of the content is iffy and not always relevant to me? Yes, but I see them trying to work towards bettering those things and I appreciate that and gonna continue using Medium and supporting the voices on Medium that I like and ignoring the haters [chuckle] like you have to the rest of the internet.
25:51 Patrick O’Keefe: So it sounds like you would fall in more in the camp that, more speech is not a good answer for say, Twitter and for publishing platforms, and that they should take a stance on these types of issues and maybe… I don’t know, maybe it is. ‘Cause Twitter has policies, it’s just it’s such a large platform and it’s tough to maybe enforce those policies. The question has never been “Does Twitter have policies?” The question is “How well does Twitter enforce the policies?” Right?
26:12 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Exactly. Right. This is a problem that I think we’re going to fight for as long as the internet is a thing, for as long as people are publishing things in print, on television, etcetera. This isn’t really a new problem per se, it’s just at a different scale and accessible to a bigger group of people because we’re all in the internet together. So, I think and I hope and I cross my fingers that things will get better and I see platforms like Medium doing things to make it better. And hopefully, Twitter will figure things out, but I think it’s kinda gonna take all of our collective community knowledge to solve this problem. So, I can’t really fault someone for a specific comment, left up like that, but hopefully, we can all make this better together.
26:58 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, and with these issues, a lot of the time, I feel like it’s a foundational thing. I think Twitter’s big problem is that they didn’t do a good enough job early on. And maybe Medium has done a better job early on, and so that’s why I would say they are in a better spot, of course they have lower activity. But it’s so tough to come back on these sorts of issues. It’s so tough to right the flow of information if the volume is so heavy and if you have this expectation built up with at least a portion of the membership. No matter what you might think of those users or those that have membership, this expectation that they have, it’s so hard to change even if it that change represents more diversity.
27:34 Carol Benovic-Bradley: I think it comes back to what we were talking about earlier with Kickstarter guidelines like it comes down to trust. And if you lost people’s trust, then yes, it is very hard to gain it back. I think there are very public things you can do, like you said, like taking a stance, elevating your community guidelines. Sometimes you see platforms make examples of bad behavior and say “We’re not gonna stand for this anymore.” I think things like that when added up, gain back people’s trust. And then when you see the community coming back and elevating good content, the kind of content that these platforms exist for, then they stand a chance. There’s still a lot of great people on Twitter, [chuckle] so obviously, they’re doing something right and they’re gonna keep working on it. It seems like they are or else, they’re gonna be in trouble. [chuckle]
28:25 Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, Twitter is getting better. You can watch NFL games now on Thursdays on Twitter. [chuckle] So if you’re a fan of the NFL as I am, then that’s a good thing, right? Yes. Carol, thank you so much for coming on the program, it’s been a pleasure to have you.
28:40 Carol Benovic-Bradley: Thanks for having me.
28:41 Patrick O’Keefe: We have been talking with Carol Benovic-Bradley, senior content manager at Kickstarter. Visit her website at cabb.me and follow her on Twitter @CarAnnBen, that’s C-A-R-A-N-N-B-E-N. You can read here writing on Medium under the same name. Follow We Support, the excellent resource for support and community professionals @wesupportnyc. Finally, check out some of Carol’s work at Kickstarter @KickstarterTips, on the Kickstarter blog at kickstarter.com/blog and on Kickstarter’s Campus at kickstarter.com/campus. If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer on the air, please submit them at communitysignal.com/qa. For the transcripts from this episode plus highlights and links that we mentioned, please visit communitysignal.com. Community signal is produced by Karn Broad, we’ll be back before you know it.
Do You Have a Question for the Show?
If you have a question that you’d like me to answer on the air, I’d love to hear it! Please submit it for a future Community Signal Q&A episode.
If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be grateful if you spread the word.
Thank you for listening to Community Signal.