Category Archives: jivespace

Clearspace: Best Community Software Award from InfoWorld!

w00t! Jive Software’s Clearspace X just won the Best Community Platform award from InfoWorld! You can read their full review on the InfoWorld site. This is no surprise to me. We power the 2 communities that I manage, Jivespace and Ignite Realtime, on Clearspace X.

Did you know that you can get a free license for Clearspace X if you are a non-commercial open source project or developer group? This is one of the cool parts of my of my job … I get to give people free software 🙂

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:

Want to Play with Clearspace & Win up to $5000 or an iPhone?

Have you been looking for an excuse to play around with Clearspace? Now is your chance!

You can download Clearspace and get a free 5 user evaluation license to use to develop a kick-ass plugin by Oct. 25th to win all sorts of cool stuff including:

  • iPhone
  • Cash prizes up to $5000
  • Free 25 user license of Clearspace
  • Jivespace T-shirt

More information about the contest is available on Jivespace.

Reflections on Community Management: AKA “What Do You Do”

With the launch of Jivespace, I have been thinking more about what it really means to be an online community manager. With the launch of any new product, it always feels like time to step back and enjoy the lull before starting the next new project; however, this is the time when the community manager role accelerates rather than slowing.

Seth Godin recently called the Online Community Organizer role a Job of the Future. This brings me to the most common question: “What exactly do you do?” I see the online community manager role as having several key elements: ongoing facilitation, content creation, evangelism, and community evolution. There are certainly many more tasks, but I suspect that 90% of the work falls into one of these four very broad categories.

  • Ongoing Facilitation: This is probably the activity that most people think of first. A community manager is an active participant within the community to answer questions, deal with trolls or other abuses, explain how things work, monitor the content closely, and much more. It also involves a lot of cat herding. On Jivespace, I frequently pull Jive engineers into the discussion to answer questions in an area where additional technical expertise is needed. It can also mean walking a very fine line between the community and the company by representing the company in community discussions and representing the needs of the community when working inside the company.
  • Content Creation: In any community, content needs to stay fresh and current regardless of whether you are talking about code releases or other content. People will wander away from a community that looks stale or inactive. I have been focused on recording new podcasts (which are now in iTunes) and blogging regularly in addition to making sure that questions get answered (also part of facilitation). This also involves working with others to create content by encouraging them to blog about their areas of expertise relevant to the developer community.
  • Evangelism: Getting the word out about your community can take a number of forms depending on the type of community. In general this can be served by talking to people (customers and other interested parties), blogging, speaking at conferences, and being actively involved in related communities.
  • Community Evolution: This may be the most overlooked area for many communities. It is important to continue to keep the community engaged by evolving along with the technology. New features, contests, group activities and more should be planned from the beginning. With Jivespace, I plan to implement improvements about every 3 weeks including upgrades to the latest Clearspace X release, which come out every 3 weeks. For example, a few things in the works include some bug fixes, improvements to the developer beta program, and a developer event of some type.

As a community manager, you should be thinking about how to make sure that all four of these items get an appropriate amount of attention. Responding to questions and writing an occasional blog may by not enough if you want your community to flourish. Community management can be a tough job, but I am enjoying it more than any other job so far.

The next logical discussion is about the skills required to be a community manager, but this post is already pretty long, so … this will be part one in a series of posts. The next one will be about the skills required to do this job.

Art of Community Video

For anyone who missed the Art of Community panel at OSCON, we were able to get the entire session on video. I’ve posted it to the Jivespace Developer Podcasts and Video Blog.

“Danese Cooper and I put together a community panel at OSCON discussing the art of building and maintaining successful communities. The panel included (from left to right): Danese Cooper (Moderating), Jimmy Wales, Dawn Foster, Sulamita Garcia, Whurley, Karl Fogel, and Brian Behlendorf.” (Quoted from: Jivespace Blog)