The Power of Explanation and the Curse of Knowledge

Lee LeFeverThe ability to communicate clearly is so important for community professionals. We say this a lot, but we rarely break it down much beyond that. What we really mean is that you have to be able to explain things. Explanation is a skill.

How you explain something is as important as what you’re explaining. It impacts how well your message is understood and whether or not people will be supportive of it. Quality explanations make your life easier. Poor explanations make it harder.

When I need help explaining something, I turn to Lee LeFever, a pioneer in online explainer space as the founder of Common Craft. They have helped Google, Intel, LEGO, Ford, Twitter and others explain their products to the world. What many don’t know is that Common Craft was actually started as an online community consultant and Lee has a great background in the community space. We discuss:

  • Why you should create explainer videos for your community
  • How to explain changes and problems
  • The reasons that explanations fail

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How Companies Can Ethically Engage on Reddit

David DiGiovanniReddit is an online community, possibly best described as a series of smaller ones, much like independent niche online communities. One subreddit (or section of Reddit) can be completely different from another.

But just like other niche online communities, these subreddits can be very beneficial to businesses – if they participate in the right way. If you’re sloppy or fail to account for the community norms, you could do substantial damage to your reputation. This episode features David DiGiovanni. He helps companies and individuals tap into the power of Reddit in an ethical way. Plus:

  • How to host a successful Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)
  • Should companies launch and manage their own subreddits?
  • What tactics does the Reddit community frown upon?

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Association Management = Community Management?

Katie BappleMembership-based associations have existed for a long time. Certainly before the internet and before online communities. But as online communities have grown in prominence, the association model has shifted to embrace them, mirroring the offline communities that they were already building.

Katie Bapple is the senior director of community management at Socious, a company that makes community software for associations. On this episode, we dive into the association niche of the online community space, including:

  • The career opportunity that associations represent for community professionals
  • How associations are adapting to the online community model for survival
  • Should every association have an online community?

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Planning a Community Redesign (After Having the Same Design for More Than a Decade)

Chris BowyerIt can be a big challenge to redesign an online community. Our members visit on a regular basis, and they become accustomed to how things look and where they’re located. To the point where they can become resistant to change.

Chris Bowyer has managed for almost 16 years. After using the same design for more than a decade, they launched a comprehensive redesign that the community embraced. On this episode, we walk through the steps he took to achieve a successful launch and the unique experiences you gain when you manage a community for so long, plus:

  • Could you see yourself managing the same community for 30 years?
  • The right way to do self-moderation
  • Community culture and how quickly it forms

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Abusive Lawsuits Can Silence Your Community (Even if You’ve Done Nothing Wrong)

Eric GoldmanAbusive lawsuits and legal maneuvers threaten our communities and our members by silencing them under the weight of excessive litigation and costly attorney’s fees.

If a member of your community criticizes a company, and that company doesn’t like it, they can sue you or your member. Even if you are completely in the right, your finances can be drained as you work to defend yourself. For this reason, many community professionals simply opt to fold to demands and remove the content, even if it would otherwise be acceptable.

Our guest is Eric Goldman, a professor of law at the Santa Clara University School of Law. His focus is internet law and he is part of a group working to pass federal legislation that will make it harder for these speech-chilling lawsuits to be successful. Plus:

  • How companies are contractually supressing consumer reviews
  • The most crucial piece of legislation for U.S.-based community professionals
  • Understanding the difference between your terms of service and your community guidelines

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How the Washington Post Builds Community

Greg BarberThe Washington Post received 12 million comments last year. They believe in community, in engaging with readers where they are – and in moderation. They have collaborated with the New York Times and Mozilla to create the Coral Project, an effort aimed at developing open source tools and resources that help publishers build better communities.

Greg Barber is a 13 year veteran of the Post, currently the director of digital news projects, where he focuses on interactivity, personalization and alternative storytelling. This episode focuses on community at the Post, plus:

  • Using community data and history to identify great contributors – and harmful ones
  • The limits of self-moderation
  • Why news organizations look “like a repair person who only uses a hammer,” in how they approach online discussions

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Facebook Doesn’t Have the Moderation Tools of Forums in 2000

Alison MichalkLast week, the European Commission announced that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft had agreed to take a stronger stance on illegal hate speech. These platforms have their work cut out for them and at least part of that work has been created by their own actions previously.

Moderation veteran Alison Michalk, CEO and founder of community management agency Quipp, joins me on this episode to talk about Facebook’s approach to moderation. Plus:

  • Convincing executives to run companies like communities
  • The legal climate for community builders in Australia
  • How the music industry’s street team promotion model translated to the internet

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Building a Business in an Open Source Community

Brad WilliamsWordPress powers more than 25% of the web. It’s open source software, driven by community contributions. But it’s also big business, with many companies generating millions of dollars in revenue by offering products and services that cater to people and organizations who use it.

How is building a business around an open source product, with a strong community, different from a more traditional kind of business? What expectations does the community have? WebDevStudios is a 34-person agency that does nothing but WordPress. Brad Williams, their CEO and co-founder, is the guest on this episode. Plus:

  • What good developer relations look like for WordPress
  • Why every WebDevStudios employee dedicates at least 2 paid hours every week giving back to WordPress
  • How the community benefits directly from WebDevStudios client work

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20 Years Since This Community Software Was Released

Rosemary O'NeillTwenty years ago, this month, Ultimate Bulletin Board was released. You may not know the name, but this early community software introduced or popularized numerous conventions that we now simply take for granted.

UBB wasn’t just on the market before practically any community platform available today, they were among the very first web-based community platforms available, following the days of BBS and the closed network of AOL. Rosemary O’Neill co-founded Social Strata and, once upon a time, they developed UBB. We get into the history of the project, plus:

  • How UBB might have invented emojis
  • The evolution of community software
  • Why people are returning to more focused, niche communities

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Community as a Product

Julie HamelTreating community as a product is really about the technology that powers the community. Improving it, adjusting settings, releasing updates and communicating those changes. This shows everyone involved that you are regularly progressing the user experience.

While community professionals have been improving their software and announcing those changes forever, thinking of community as a product can help you to better communicate and execute your platform strategy. Julie Hamel, senior manager of community and social media at Alteryx, joins me on this episode. Plus:

  • Being effective as a remote professional, when most of your company is in an office
  • Why Alteryx merged support with community
  • How B2B companies should recognize the experts in their communities

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