Threats to Section 230 Threaten the Very Existence of Our Communities

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a frequent topic of conversation on Community Signal. As Patrick puts it, if you’re a community professional in the United States, “this is the law that places the liability for speech on the author of that speech, not on you as the [community’s] host. It allows you to moderate and remove certain content while not assuming liability for what remains. I like to think of it as the legal basis for our profession in the US, and it is an important legal protection against the wealthy and powerful who would happily take down an entire online community for one post they don’t like.”

Plainly, this is a law that protects our jobs, our communities, the people in those communities, and their right to have civil and safe discussions online.

For this episode of Community Signal, we invited past guests to share how Section 230 has enabled them to foster community and what changing Section 230 could do to the fabric of online communities.

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Crisis Communications for Online Communities

Data breaches, distasteful ads or marketing campaigns, offensive content left unmoderated for far too long… as community professionals, we’ve studied these situations when they arise and many of us have had to manage such issues in our own communities.

In this episode, Patrick and crisis communications expert Kate Hartley discuss examples of micro and macro communications crises and how to best manage them. Kate breaks down the difference between a full blown communications crisis and negative or critical response to a change. “It’s only a crisis if it’s going to stop the community [from] being able to function,” she says. “If it’s not going to stop the community being able to function, then it’s not really a crisis. It’s an issue that just needs to be well-managed.”

Kate and Patrick also discuss:

  • How social media and news feeds fuel outrage
  • Remembering your employees during a communications crisis
  • Setting a strategic intent for handling a communications crisis and knowing how to measure your outcomes
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Moving a Community for Women Over 40 From Facebook Groups to a Paid Subscription App

If you’ve ever Googled a medical condition or a new symptom that you’ve experienced you know that the search results leave much to be desired. When Nina Lorez Collins posted about symptoms of perimenopause on Facebook, she saw that many women in her network were looking for a space to talk about the same symptoms that she was experiencing. The conversation flourished into a Facebook group of over 30,000 women looking for answers and support through all stages of menopause and aging.

As the What Would Virginia Woolf Do? community (now The Woolfer) continued to grow, it tested the limits of Facebook’s product and support and Nina found herself looking for alternatives. She faced the realization that she could not sustain the group as a free community. It needed dedicated resources and income to continue operating at the same level.  If you’re looking to launch or move your community to a paid model or debating changing community platforms, Nina offers lots of suggestions on what to consider as you’re negotiating with new platforms and keeping your community in the loop.

Nina and Patrick discuss:

  • Recognizing the product limitations of community platforms, along with your community’s product must-haves
  • The emotional, financial, and product hurdles that come with moving from one platform to another
  • How Woolfers stepped up to help those that wanted to join the paid community but couldn’t afford it
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Don’t Let “Scale” Get in the Way of Good Community Strategy

Communities are good for business, but are businesses good for communities? This question has come up on the show before, specifically when we spoke to community hosts losing their Yahoo Groups and when IMDb’s message boards were closed and erased. What happens when corporation-led communities are determined to have outlived their usefulness to the corporation, but not to the members? Does this lead to more grassroots-led communities? How will the tools and examples we’ve created serve those grassroots communities?

Bailey Richardson, a community professional that helped build Instagram and recently co-authored Get Together, and Patrick address these questions on this episode, as well as: 

  • The current community software landscape and why there’s still room for growth
  • What happens when you need to demote or ban a community leader
  • Why graffiti is allowed on Instagram
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Attention Verizon Media: Yahoo Groups Deserves Better

Earlier this month, Verizon Media, the parent to Yahoo, announced that users of Yahoo Groups had until October 28th to continue posting in their groups and until December of this year to archive all of their conversations. After December, 18+ years of conversations will be erased from Verizon Media’s servers and the internet entirely.

Obviously, the community is fighting back. Administrators of these groups, most of whom are unpaid volunteers, are working tirelessly to download their data, collect the email addresses of their community members and, in some cases, move people over to a new platform. As community professionals, we know that a migration like this can take months of planning, research, and communication to our communities. In this case, administrators had two weeks to figure things out.

In this episode, Patrick talks to two avid organizers of Yahoo Groups about the next steps for their communities and what they hope will come out of this situation. In both cases, they want the connections and resources fostered in their Yahoo Groups to be preserved.

Patrick and our guests, Susan Kang and Deane Rimerman, also discuss:

  • The new tools that Deane and Susan will use to host their communities and why Nextdoor isn’t one of them
  • What it’s really like to download your data from Yahoo Groups
  • The importance of communities as archives and spaces for political action
Continue reading “Attention Verizon Media: Yahoo Groups Deserves Better”

How Community is Funding the Fourth Estate in South Africa

For communities that come with a membership fee, direct revenue might seem like the top benefit for your company. But the Daily Maverick’s membership program gives them direct access to their most engaged readers, which has created benefits beyond revenue. The Daily Maverick has hired employees through its community, grown new company verticals thanks to the support of its community, and has given readers and writers a way to interact directly with one another about the stories they’re most interested in.

Styli Charalambous, the co-founder and publisher of Daily Maverick, also shares the unique perspective of a founder building a membership program from the ground up, who then hires a member of the community to run the show. This episode will leave you with great starting points for discussing the ROI of community programs and a lot of inspiration around how to keep community members engaged.

Styli and Patrick also discuss:

  • Why Daily Maverick doesn’t have a paywall on its website
  • How Daily Maverick approaches comments and allowing access to its community
  • Daily Maverick‘s robust events and publishing strategy
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The State of Community Management in Germany

On this episode of Community Signal, community management consultant Tanja Laub gives a full report on what it’s like to work as a community manager in Germany. And perhaps not too surprising, the experience is not dissimilar to what guests from the United States and other countries have described. Tanja shares a breakdown of community manager responsibilities, typical salaries, and the limitations and opportunities that she’s seen in the field so far.

Tanja is also a chairperson for BVCM, an association for Germany community managers, where she has helped develop a certification procedure for community and social media managers. Rather than requiring professionals to take a class to become certified, community managers instead verify their professional history and some other details about themselves to get the certification. Between that and her work to help organizations refine their hiring needs and community manager role descriptions, Tanja is helping to set the standard for what it means to work in community management.

Tanja and Patrick also discuss:

  • The value of certifications
  • How moderation norms compare to other countries, like Australia and the United States
  • What Tanja sees as areas of opportunity for communities in Germany
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How Gaming Community Knowledge Translates to Other Industries

On Community Signal, we talk to community professionals across all industries, from gaming, to healthcare, to photography, and more. And while our respective communities might convene over different topics, the tactics and tools that we employ to foster healthy communities are largely the same. In this episode, Craig Dalrymple shares how his community career started in gaming and how that knowledge has carried him into other industries. 

Patrick and Craig also get on the topic of customer success, the rise of roles in this space, and how community professionals can have an impact. But no matter what team you’re on or what your title is, what’s most important is that you feel empowered in your role and that you have the tools to succeed. As Craig says (8:48): “Can I do something here? Can I move the needle? Can I take this community and make it happier and bind it better with this product that they’re getting together around?”

They also discuss:

  • Balancing being yourself and a community manager in your online presence
  • Finding opportunities to surprise and delight (potential) customers outside of your community
  • When your employer wants metrics they won’t adequately give you access to
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Heather Champ and the Biggest Threats to Great Online Communities

A few weeks ago, the Community Signal team was discussing the upcoming schedule for the show and talking about the then recent news that Ravelry had decided to ban any pro-Trump related content. Community guidelines and how we moderate conversations in our respective communities are frequent topics on Community Signal, and it’s also something that we work on everyday as community professionals. If you’re contemplating new community guidelines, revising your existing ones, or debating a tough moderation decision, this episode has some terrific insights from Heather Champ.

Sharing stories from her time guiding community at Flickr, Tumblr, and more, it’s most interesting to hear from Heather not about exciting new tools and automations, but instead about how much empowering community members with options, filters, and clear community guidelines can create flourishing spaces for expression. Heather also brings up a very important topic –– the level of vulnerability that community managers face in their jobs and the repercussions of trolling and stalking as we become more deeply embedded in our communities. With Heather’s experience comes deep insights and knowledge, but also a clear message that we need to pay attention to the roles and protections that we’re building for community managers and our communities.

Patrick and Heather discuss:

  • Why algorithms can’t replace moderators
  • How Flickr created a safe space for sharing adult content
  • The role that Section 230 plays in fostering healthy conversations for everyone, including community managers
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The Loot Chest That Launched a Career in Community Management

If you work in games, social media, or community management, then you know that running any communications or programming around conventions like E3 and PAX requires intense planning and coordination. Fresh off of his first on the ground activation at E3, Joe King, social media manager for GameStop, shares the ups and downs of working conventions and of working in games community management. He also shares his strategy for engaging with games communities whether he is walking the convention floor for the first time or covering the event on social media from a remote location.

Joe’s career path into community management started with his love of games and quickly accelerated when he got creative with his resume. His advice for those looking to get into community management or any other field stands out: Start small, with tangible projects that can level up your skills. 

Joe and Patrick discuss:

  • What Joe did to make his resume standout when he was applying for a community position at Gearbox Software
  • Why numbers don’t matter when you’re starting out as a streamer
  • How landing a “dream job” can feel simultaneously exciting and paralyzing
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