Tag Archives: community

Ready for Ignite Portland on Feb 5?

Our last Ignite Portland was so awesome that we decided to do another one on Tuesday, February 5th!

If you missed the last event, take a look at the videos and presentations on the Ignite Portland site. After seeing them, you WILL want to attend this event!

Want to Attend?
Tuesday, February 5th
Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm
Bagdad Theater 3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214
Admission is always FREE
RSVP on Upcoming

Want to Sponsor?
We had ~300 people at the last event, and we hope to have more at this one. Ignite Portland is only as good as our sponsors – our ability to provide food, beverages, etc. is only possible because of the generous sponsorships of local companies! If you are interested in sponsoring, contact Todd Kenefsky (kenefsky at gmail).

Want to Present?
We will have the presentation idea submission form up soon, but for now, start thinking about an awesome presentation that will wow the audience in 5 minutes with 20 slides that auto advance every 15 seconds!

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Who "Owns" the Community

Jeremiah Owyang recently interviewed Bill Johnston to talk about community ownership. You should take a look at the video before reading the rest of this entry.

I talked to Bill last week here in Portland, and he’s a really sharp community guy. In this case, I think he is mostly right, but a tiny bit wrong in his assessment that marketing should “own” the community (note that he also says that marketing doesn’t quite deserve the right to own it yet until they move past a quarterly campaign focus and into a strategic, long-term relationship building mentality).

First of all, I think that you have to be a little careful about how you use the word ownership. Under a traditional definition of ownership, which is not the definition Bill uses in the video, the community “owns” the community with community defined as all participants (company employees, customers, random fans, etc.) In other words, no one group should feel like they own the community, since that implies a level of control that is mostly an illusion within communities. Doc Searls also posted some similar ideas about brands and social networks, which is related to this discussion, but in a slightly different vein.

However, I do think that marketing should facilitate most customer communities. If you redefine ownership the way Bill does in this video as the people who do the care and feeding of the community to make sure that questions are being answered, the community stays funded, spam gets deleted, content stays fresh, etc., then marketing should probably be the owner of customer communities under this new ownership definition.

However, while this is true for most customer communities, I am not as sure that marketing should own, facilitate, or drive other types of communities. Developer communities and open source communities come to mind as good examples of communities that should be driven out of a technology group not driven by marketing types. I’m sure that a lot of people would disagree with this statement, but I think that developer and open source communities work best when they are created by developers for developers.

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Legion of Tech

I’ve been hinting about a non profit organization that a few of us have been working on for a while. Today, we received confirmation of our Oregon non profit incorporation status. Keep in mind that we are not (and may never become) a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization (we will file for it, but ultimately the IRS makes this decision).

The organization is called Legion of Tech, and the purpose of this organization is to

  1. Grow and nurture the local Portland technology community through educational, not-for-profit, community-run events.
  2. Make it easier for community members to organize technology events.
  3. Provide resources and assistance for technology community events.

Ignite Portland, BarCamp Portland, and Startupalooza will all fall under this organization. You can read our complete bylaws and see who is on the board of directors on our website.

Note: we are still in the early stages of designing a logo. If you have some mad design skills and want to design a logo for a good cause … in other words for free 🙂 … just let us know!

Community Roles: Manager, Moderator, and Administrator

I was asked an interesting question last week about the best ways to divide the community manager role into separate manager, moderator, and administrator roles. In my role as community manager at Jive, I act in all three roles under the broader title of community manager with plenty of help from the web development team on the administrative side and participation from development and product management with answers to questions.

In small to medium sized communities, I suspect that a single person typically performs all three roles. In most cases, and in my case, the community manager also performs the moderation functions. If the community gets enough traffic, it would probably make sense to have a separate moderator role to handle the load. This question got me thinking about how the roles might be divided for very large communities.

If you were going to break them out into separate positions, I have two scenarios (although there are probably many more):

Scenario 1: The Enormous Community

In reality, I suspect that these would only be full time jobs for 3+ people in a large community.

  • Community Moderator: The moderator or moderators would focus on day to day responsibilities for the community. Reading the threads, making sure that the right people are answering questions, moving threads when posted in the wrong place, dealing with spammers, and other day to day maintenance in the community.
  • Community Manager: This person would be responsible for the overall direction of the community. They would be responsible for content plans, content creation, determining new functionality, and evolving the community.
  • Community Administrator: This person (or team) would be responsible for the software and other technical aspects on the community (maintenance, upgrades, implementing new features, etc.)

Scenario 2: The Medium to Large Community

For most medium sized communities and for new communities, I would start with this approach and then further separate the roles as community growth required more focused time commitments.

  • Community Moderators: Subject matter experts responsible for a specific area within the community as part of their regular job. For example, the product manager might be responsible for the feature requests area within the community. Moderation would be a small part of several people’s jobs. In this role of community moderator as expert, they would stimulate discussion by responding thoughtfully to posts and starting new discussions to get feedback on ideas or get the community thinking about a specific topic. It would also be good to have them blogging in the community within their areas of expertise.
  • Community Manager: This person would be responsible for the overall direction of the community – probably a full-time job. They would be responsible for content plans, content creation, determining new functionality, and evolving the community, but would also be focused on day to day responsibilities for the community. Reading the threads, making sure that the right people are answering questions, moving threads when posted in the wrong place, dealing with spammers, and other day to day maintenance in the community. The community manager would make sure that the community moderators are keeping up with their assigned areas.
  • Web developer / administrator: Unless your software is an extremely complex or custom solution, it probably makes sense to have one of your web developers or admins also administer the community software.

I think that what I have said above is probably more applicable to corporate communities; however, I think that these roles are similar in other types of communities. For example, in open source communities, community members typically pick up most of the moderation role in an informal capacity. This is certainly the case with the Ignite Realtime community – most of the moderation is really done by the community, and I usually only step in for any larger issues. I suspect that this is also true for social communities as well.

In general, there is probably quite a bit of overlap between community administrator, manager, and moderator. I would be curious to hear about how other people have successfully (or not so successfully) broken out the role of community manager.

Related Fast Wonder Blog Posts:

Fast Wonder Podcast: Reputation in Communities

I just released the second Fast Wonder Community podcast today, Reputation Systems in Online Communities. In this episode, we talk about best practices and ideas for using reputation within online communities along with different types of reputation systems and using community reputation for rewards and hiring from within the community.

If you have any suggestions for people you would like to see interviewed on a future podcast, please let me know!

You can also subscribe to the Fast Wonder Community Podcast via RSS or iTunes.

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The Beauty of Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter for quite a while to keep up with friends and industry news, and I find it to be one of the most valuable and useful online applications. The critics point out that they don’t need to know the mundane details of people’s lives (when they wake up, what they eat, etc.) If you feel this way, then you just aren’t following the right people! Right now on Twitter, I see a debate from Tara Hunt about those who “write” and those who “do”, a reminder about the Portland Werewolf games tomorrow, thoughts on what happens to your blog and other online accounts after you die, and various links to really interesting sites.

Jeremiah Owyang blogged today about how Some Conversations have shifted to Twitter:

Twitter is becoming a major communication tool for me lately. There are more intimate conversations being held on this next-generation chat room, and it’s filled with early adopters and those who are trying to reach them.

If you’re in the tech industry, and in marketing, you should be paying attention to what’s happening on twitter. There’s even search tools that can help you find discussions and memes. Also, if you’re trying to reach early adopters, these are tools for you. This really reminds me of the the whole blogging industry in 2005, it’s the same type of pros and cons –it’s just much smaller now. If you don’t meet these criterion, then it may not be for you, always remember to find the audience you’re trying to reach first.

(Quote from Web Strategy by Jeremiah)

I struggle every day with whether or not to keep my Twitter account private. On the one hand, I can connect more intimately with my friends without worrying about random stalkers and creepy people. On the other hand, I could more effectively use it to reach more people if it were public. I tend to add more people to Facebook using it as a more public platform while keeping my Twitter feed private, which means that I can post specific details about where I am and how people can find me. Regardless of whether your feed is public or private, by following interesting people, Twitter can be a valuable tool for keep in touch and learning new things.

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Community ROI, Metrics, and Events

Just a quick post to point people to the list of ForumOne Online Community Events in 2008. For anyone wanting to learn more about online communities or network with other community managers, these might be good events to attend.

ForumOne has also released a couple of interesting reports:

Related Fast Wonder Posts:

Episode 1: Complexity of Motivation in Online Communities

Welcome to the first Fast Wonder Community podcast. This podcast contains the first of four recordings made during a recent discussion that I led at the December Portland Web Innovators meeting. In this edition, I lead a lively discussion about the Complexity of Motivation in Online Communities.

Downloads:

The next edition in this series of four podcasts from the Portland Web Innovators meeting will discuss reputation systems. After this four part series, I plan to move to mostly an interview format with interviews from thought leaders in online communities.

I will include the link to iTunes in the side bar of this blog within the next few days for anyone who prefers to get the podcast via iTunes. I am still relatively new to audio podcasting (so far, I’ve done mostly video podcasts), so please feel free to share any tips or suggestions that I can use to make them better.

Update: At Stefano’s request, here is the podcast in .mp3 format.

Communities as Games

Social networking sites (Digg, Facebook, and YouTube) can be thought of as games with goals, actions, play, strategies, and rewards. This idea comes from C. Weng’s free e-book, The Web: Hidden Games. On Read/WriteWeb yesterday, Richard MacManus talked about these Social Websites as Games:

The e-book goes on to tell you how to “win” at Digg and notes that “like all games, Digg’s system can be cheated.” It also compares YouTube to chess: “there are an infinite number of ways to win in YouTube but it only occurs under certain conditions. Every single method, strategy, and theory leads back to the essential factor: getting people to view your videos.” And as for Facebook, it is compared to The Sims: “The object of the game is more to monitor or to guide characters in daily life rather than to win at something. There’s no simple goal in sight but it is all about the process of playing.”

(Quoted from by Richard MacManus on Read/WriteWeb)

I think this idea extends past social websites and into communities as well. I recently blogged about using reputation systems in communities with a discussion about people can game community reputation systems. The important thing to recognize is whether people are gaming the system in a productive manner that helps the community or in a destructive way that serves only to clutter the community with worthless chatter that annoys other members.

Thinking about the community as a game where you can accumulate points and status can help the community when members use the points as incentives to post productive content and answer questions from other members. This productive gaming serves to improve the content within the community.

The danger with reputation systems (and social networking sites, like Digg) is when the gaming becomes destructive. In communities, people can post worthless one-line responses to discussions that add nothing to the conversations, but act only to accumulate points. In Digg, people can get together to Digg worthless stories to the home page solely to generate advertising revenue for the owner of the site.

The key, as I’ve mentioned before, is transparency and proactive adjustments. Community reputation systems can be adjusted to help prevent people from accumulating any significant amount of points just for responding to discussions without meaningful content. Digg has continually adjusted their algorithms to help prevent gaming. It is also important to recognize that no technical solution can entirely prevent gaming of reputation systems or social websites. Because you cannot entirely prevent it, transparency is the key to making sure that other people can see which members are gaming the system. As a community member, if I can see that all of Joe’s posts are one line responses of the “great post” or “thanks for the info” variety, I will start to ignore his responses, and if the system lets me block him from my view, I may chose to exclude his responses. On a site like Digg, I may also chose to block stories submitted by a user who always submits stories from a couple of sites (probably his sites).

I like reputation systems and think that they can be used productively in communities if monitored carefully. People are motivated in many different ways. While some community members will contribute freely without any reward for their effort, others will contribute more often if they can see some tangible rewards for their contribution.

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