being unable to achieve the impossible: keeping everybody happy
March 16, 2015 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Creating just online social spaces - Aria Stewart, Geek Feminism
"The last two months have seen two Slack chats start to support marginalized groups in the technology field, LGBTQ* Technology and Women in Technology, and we’ve had a lot of discussions about how to run the spaces effectively, not just being a place for those who it says on the tin, but to support, encourage and not be terrible to people who are marginalized in other ways than the one the particular group is trying to represent. "This is a sort of how-to guide for creating a social Slack that is inclusive and just, and a lot of of this will apply to other styles and mediums for interaction."

Archetypes of Community Members (YouTube, 13min 26sec) "In this video, Amy Muller is joined by Barry, Community Support Specialist, and Monica, Community Manager, of StumbleUpon, along with one of their customer champions, Jane to discuss the common personality types that crop up in online communities -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. How to recognize them and deal with them."

The Real World Road Rules of Community Management. And Puppies - Kaitlin Pike, i write good;

How do you build a thriving community? - The CR Blog at The Community Roundtable

Day 7 - What System Administrators Can Learn from Community Management - SysAdvent

The Woman Behind Community Management - Q&A with Dominika Borgosz, InnoGames.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (4 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Oh man, I really like the commentary on managing conflict between commentators effectively in the Geek Feminism piece. I've been involved with community building on a small scale for some time now, and I've watched a lot of initiatives fail or go south because community managers were inexperienced at managing conflict effectively. It's a really important point for moderating groups of people, but it's one that doesn't get explicitly discussed nearly enough.

I will definitely need to check this out. Thank you for posting about it!
posted by sciatrix at 11:12 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm particularly intrigued in the first post about using Slack for a group of random people, open to anyone on the Internet. My understanding is Slack is mostly used by companies and project groups, people who know each other and are working together already.

Trying to create an open Slack bends the product in interesting ways. The first link has a bunch of details on how they use Slack's social structure to shape the space. Interesting stuff, and new. My guess is it can't really scale, the high-touch reconciliation and negotiation is going to work best in a small group who is motivated to get along. But maybe that's just right for their target audience!
posted by Nelson at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Man, I am loving the ideas in these posts. They keep discussing all this stuff that's really fundamental to my experiences moderating and managing groups of people--even very small groups!--and yet I never, ever hear it laid out like this unless I'm trying to give someone advice on a new project. Nearly everyone I know who has done something like this has learned it on the fly, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to realize that there are actual professionals who specialize in this kind of thing.

For example, being welcoming comes up in the CR blog, and in my experience it's really very easy to forget that people frequently get intimidated and nervous about entering new communities--particularly long-established communities. You get this effect where established members get used to each other and accustomed to each other's quirks and foibles, and completely forget that newer people--especially lurkers--might be intimidated. It's important to have relatively low-stakes places for newer people to enter into, I find.

In a lot of ways, creating a good community has a lot of parallels to making a functioning fish tank--you need to think about the species you want to foster and set up places to hide if they need that or places to swim at high speed if the species needs that, and tinkering when the pH levels rise or fall too quickly. If you haven't got the right kind of food, sometimes fish will start getting much more aggressive about taking bites out of other fish, and if you don't have something to clean up algae you'd better be ready to clean it out yourself. Once you have everything just so, you can have this really complex tiny ecosystem in a box puttering along with fairly minimal input from you, but woe betide you if things get really off kilter...

On the flip side, I found the KCPike thread about dog training vis a vis community management kind of... interesting, but also a little eye-rolling. I've been involved pretty deeply in dog training for a long, long time and while all her comparisons are totally good--I've learned a whole lot about teaching and managing behaviors from working with dogs--her pointing to Cesar Millan as a great social leader is, ah, I think a little misguided. Millan is a bit proverbial for relying very heavily on force in his training, which dog trainers as a whole have moved away from in the last twenty years. He's not exactly the great canine communicator in his work.
posted by sciatrix at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Really appreciated the hands-on, discrete technical how-to aspects of most of these links. I particularly appreciated the #couldhavegonebetter de-escalation channel idea.
posted by Dreidl at 5:31 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

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