Tag Archives: san francisco

Community 2.0 and WebVisions

I wanted to let people know about two upcoming conferences where I will be speaking in the next 2 weeks.

Community 2.0 May 11 – 13 (San Francisco)

I will be on a panel discussion at 2:15 on Tuesday about How to be a Kick-A$$ Community Manager with some rock star community managers:

WebVisions May 20 – 22 (Portland, OR)

I’ll be presenting here in Portland at WebVisions on Friday, May 22nd at 10:30am on the topic of Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy and will be covering many of the topics from my book.

The speaker list for WebVisions is a who’s who of cool people, and the conference is really reasonable to attend ($250 and under), so you should register if you haven’t already! They are also offering a very nice combo registration deal for Open Source Bridge if you need to register for both.

There are also a couple of special events during WebVisions that you won’t want to miss – you don’t even need to register to attend these!

I hope to see you at one or both of these events!

Community Building: Good, Bad and Ugly – The Video

I finally found a video of at least part of our Web 2.0 Expo session about Community Building: Good, Bad and Ugly. A big thank you to Jim Goings for uploading it. It looks like they caught the first 30 minutes of the session on video.

Panel members included: Dawn Foster (Jive Software), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research), Bob Duffy (Intel), Kellie Parker (PC World & Macworld).

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

User-Generated Censorship at Web 2.0 Expo

Annalee Newitz held a great session talking about how users can censor other people’s content at Web 2.0. Here are my notes from that session.

Social media censorship

  • Bottom up, not top down: not imposed by an authority figure, like traditional censorship. Users tell each other what they can / can’t say and reporting it to the owner by flagging.
  • Collaborative: groups of people work together to censor content that they don’t agree with or like.
  • Punitive (cruelty of crowds): censoring content because a few users don’t like it even though it may be within terms of service and OK for the site otherwise.
  • Not within terms of service: This really isn’t censorship. This is an appropriate reason to flag content.

Why do I Care?

  • Censorship makes user-generated content less valuable
  • Creates divisiveness w/in community
  • Drives community away
  • It is unjust

Let’s collaborate to destroy free expression!

Blogger: Flag blog. Annalee asked someone trying to get a job for her to start a blog, but it got flagged by another user. Blog got shut down, she was unable to modify it, and it was a long process to get the blog unblocked. It could have cost the girl her job.

Flickr: Flag photo. Violet Blue had her photos flagged as unsafe and her account reclassified as restricted even though most of the photos were fine. You can have a person review it, but there is no phone number and no time estimate for when it will be reviewed. The process to remedy user censorship is just not very helpful.

YouTube: much more granular lists of reasons to have something flagged, which helps them respond and forces the user to be specific about why something is inappropriate. They will act w/in 24 hours in certain cases (filmed murder, etc.)

Digg: There are a lot of debates about what it means to “bury” a story. It isn’t transparent. Creates controversy, since some groups use it to prevent stories that they don’t like or don’t agree with from going to the front page.

Wikipedia: They have very elaborate rules for content, which makes it harder to censor (unverifiable claims, references & sources not properly cited, etc.) You are less likely to see censorship, since there are so many rules around it.


  • Clear content guidelines
  • Clear and fast methods of redress when censorship has happened
  • Easy ways for readers to use filters that prevent them from stumbling across content that upsets them.

Crowds can be wise, but they can also be destructive.

Community: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly at Web 2.0 Expo

I really enjoyed my panel this morning at Web 2.0 Expo with Jeremiah Owyang, Bob Duffy, and Kellie Parker. Here are a few of the things we talked about (including a correction to one of the answers that I gave during the panel) 🙂

How do you know that a company is ready to embrace a community?

A few things I would look for:

  • Are the key people at the company willing to invest the resources, like time and money, into building, maintaining, and growing the community over time?
  • Are key executives at the company encouraging or fighting the creation of a community?
  • Do the key people already actively participate in community activities? Do they already blog?

If you have any doubts, a good way to test whether the company is ready is to start with some baby steps: get the key people blogging and participating in existing conversations in other communities. If they are willing to devote the time and energy to some small community activities, you can start to build from there into more complex, full blown community efforts

What are some good ways to kick-start your community?

Getting that initial base of community members can be challenging and how you approach it depends on the type of community.

For communities around a product or service offered by a company, you can tap your existing customer base. Start with some of those customers or users who are most passionate about your products. They will be the biggest cheerleaders for you and can help you get other people involved in the community. These evangelists can be a huge help while building and growing your community.

For social communities or other communities where you don’t have an existing customer base to tap, you’ll want to reach out to a few potential members early in the process. The best people to approach are those that tend to quickly embrace new technologies and are influential among the group of people you are trying to reach.

Regardless of the type of community, you’ll still need to do additional outreach using various marketing campaigns. For communities, I would put a heavy focus on social media outreach through blogs, twitter, facebook, or whatever other social media is appropriate for your community to talk about the benefits of joining your community. You can also offer any other incentives appropriate to your community: T-shirts, drawings, discounts, etc. as you build your initial base of members.

Just One Key Takeaway for communities:

Be flexible in everything from community design and evolution of the community to the day to day activities.
Communities are ultimately about the people, and people aren’t always predicable. You may find that the structure and design of the community isn’t working for most people, and you’ll need to be flexible to embrace evolution of the community. You will need to be flexible with how you spend your time. I never know when I’m going to spend the morning cleaning up after spammers or answering burning questions instead of completing the items currently on my task list.

Managing Internal Communities: A correction

Near the end of my panel, Dan McCall asked a really good question about how you approach community management in an internal community. My answer was something along the lines of this: “You might need a community manager to get it kicked off, but the role would probably go away fairly quickly once you got it set up.” After the panel, Jake Kuramoto pointed out (nicely) that I was completely wrong for most companies, and I agree with him.

My answer was colored by the fact that almost all of my friends are geeks and that I have been working in startups for the past couple of years. In startups filled with people who are passionate about software where participation in communities comes completely naturally. Well, the idea of an internal community with no community manager would work great in my little insular, tech-centric world. I forget that in other companies, participating in a community might not be so natural.

For tech startups, I stand by my answer; however, for the rest of the world, I’m now revising my answer to Dan’s question. In most companies you will need a community manager for internal communities. The community manager will need to continue to encourage people to participate and help people navigate the technology as it evolves. New employees will likely need help getting involved and understanding how to engage in the community. In some companies, the community manager will also need to carefully monitor metrics and impact in order to continue to justify the time and expense of managing and maintaining the community.

I would love to hear your input on any of these ideas in the comments.

Web 2.0 Expo Community Building: Good, Bad & Ugly

I just wanted to let people know that I will be on a panel at Web 2.0 Expo early, early on Wednesday morning.

Community Building: Good, Bad & Ugly
Dawn Foster (Jive Software), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research), Bob Duffy (Intel), Kellie Parker (PC World & Macworld)
8:30am – 9:20am Wednesday, 04/23/2008
Room 2009

It would be great to see a few familiar faces in the crowd for our early session.

I also have plans to attend Ignite Web 2.0 Expo SF on Tuesday night, and I should be around for most of the rest of conference. I also hear that we have some interesting plans for Jive during the event, so you should stop by our booth to see what we are doing.