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Managing successful online communities


A call to arms for community leaders

We are currently living through one of the most turbulent times in history.

A once-in-a-century pandemic has a grip on all of us.

Whatever the outcome, come the end of the year, few of us are going to be the same again. We will have to sacrifice our personal freedoms, and some of us much more.

Like you, I'm worried about my family, my friends and neighbours. I'm watching the news, scrolling through social media and consuming articles from scientists, scholars and doctors.

The news coming out of Italy is truly heartbreaking. Doctors and nurses have to make life and death decisions daily as they wage war with the virus. Those of us in the UK and the USA are nervously watching the graphs climb in lockstep of Italy from just a few weeks ago.

It would be easy to succumb to fear and withdraw completely.

But as community leaders, we cannot.

Let us take some inspiration from the brave people of Italy who have suffered much with an overstretched health care system and enforced quarantine yet still sing from their apartments in a display of resolve.

In a time where we have to remain apart, we must come together.

We have to keep showing up and leading.

We must focus on what we still have and not what is being taken away.

Now more than ever, we are needed to keep the world connected. To bring comfort; to support and to love each other.

This year is going to test every one of us.

But whatever comes our way, I know that we are stronger together.

"Their faithful and zealous comradeship would almost between night and morning clear the path of progress and banish from all our lives the fear which already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of millions of men."

Winston Churchill

Edited by Matt

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I won't lie, it hasn't been easy 😕 

Being in the travel niche, my community is heavily hit and it was an enormous task to moderate travel related discussions (flights cancelled, borders closed, etc.) from the general, speculation ridden, chit-chat covid talk that pretty much goes everywhere (including here).

In the end I had to enable pre-approval for posts in the virus topic. First time in seven years since my community start, but I guess desperate time requires desperate measures. It helped a lot! Before that it was pretty chaotic with everyone posting their own theories, unproven links form the internet etc, we had to try to keep it on topic by hiding almost 50% of the posts at some point. It was not pretty and people got annoyed and alienated. After pre-approval was introduced almost all posts were strictly on topic, you can say that by starting the pre-approval the moderator workload dropped at least 90% and was confined to quick approval to most of the posts. 

But it is still challenging, because with travel shut we have almost nothing to talk about besides the virus, quarantine, etc. Instead of discussing upcoming travels, most active discussions are based on what we do at home, cooking recipes and the emotional toll of the blockade. 

What I did to brighten the spirits and it worked extremely well is to organize Zoom conferences, where one presenter shows pictures and talks about his recent travels. As most people are stuck at home it is a very nice way to socialize and at the same time take your mind away from the constant negative news bombing. We will try to do it on an at least bi-weekly basis, maybe increase the frequency even more.

I always avoided chats as they may steal content from the community, but now I am contemplating chat setup as well, it will at least give the people a reason to stick around until this is over. I am just afraid that if I start a chat it might be difficult to remove later and I definitely do not want a chat when the things are back to normal.

Might start a book club and netflix/hbo movie club as well, we'll see. 

Edited by jair101
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6 minutes ago, jair101 said:

I won't lie, it hasn't been easy 😕 

Being in the travel niche, my community is heavily hit and it was an enormous task to moderate travel related discussions (flights cancelled, borders closed, etc.) from the general, speculation ridden, chit-chat covid talk that pretty much goes everywhere (including here).

In the end I had to enable pre-approval for posts in the virus topic. First time in seven years since my community start, but I guess desperate time requires desperate measures. It helped a lot! Before that it was pretty chaotic with everyone posting their own theories, unproven links form the internet etc, we had to try to keep it on topic by hiding almost 50% of the posts at some point. It was not pretty and people got annoyed and alienated. After pre-approval was introduced almost all posts were strictly on topic, you can say that by starting the pre-approval the moderator workload dropped at least 90% and was confined to quick approval to most of the posts. 

But it is still challenging, because with travel shut we have almost nothing to talk about besides the virus, quarantine, etc. Instead of discussing upcoming travels, most active discussions are based on what we do at home, cooking recipes and the emotional toll of the blockade. 

What I did to brighten the spirits and it worked extremely well is to organize Zoom conferences, where one presenter shows pictures and talks about his recent travels. As most people are stuck at home it is a very nice way to socialize and at the same time take your mind away from the constant negative news bombing. We will try to do it on an at least bi-weekly basis, maybe increase the frequency even more.

I always avoided chats as they may steal content from the community, but now I am contemplating chat setup as well, it will at least give the people a reason to stick around until this is over. 

You are probably right. But I think moderating living life is a big mistake.
Every community is affected and even the chaos in opinions describes life as it is. Moderation creates a fake, or just one look - yours ... This I don't think is right.

Each member of the community has the right to express his or her fear and hope as he or she feels it.
This creates a sense of a family where everything is shared - both good and bad.

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8 hours ago, Adlago said:

You are probably right. But I think moderating living life is a big mistake.
Every community is affected and even the chaos in opinions describes life as it is. Moderation creates a fake, or just one look - yours ... This I don't think is right.

Each member of the community has the right to express his or her fear and hope as he or she feels it.
This creates a sense of a family where everything is shared - both good and bad.

Everyone can have their own opinion and style how to run their community. In mine I have decided that I don't want polarizing topic like the one existing here. I don't think the sense of family is encouraged by such topics where people are bragging how many people have entered their ignore list.

Of course, different opinions are possible, I don't think there is a right or wrong way in this situation, it gets down to moderating style.

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We have a health related community and you can think how much questions people ask us and each other. In these times a strong community software is gold.

And now, where people are to stay home they want to see other people in video chats. We took Zoom. An embedded chat would be better, sure. But it's ok.

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One of the things that will come from all of this is that people will remember those who came together and those who chose to stand apart; whether this be so-called friends and neighbours to suppliers of commodities and services - people will remember those who rallied around and those who ran away.

It is very hard times for everyone, but more so for the thousands who have lost loved ones and cannot even see them off properly; for the medics and front line staff who have to make the unenviable choice of who to save and who to let slip away and for Governments who have to make really tough choices to make sure that as many as possible stay safe.

This is something that will affect every part of the globe and with repercussions that will last a generation or more, but with grit and determination we will prevail.  This is a different kind of enemy, one that is enemy to all and not just a few and the only way we will be able to defeat it is to come together and squish it permanently.

Thanks to Matt for reminding us that together we are stronger - united we stand, divided we fall comes to mind. This is an event that transcends all of the old divisions which we must put aside to defeat this common enemy.

Stay safe everyone, stay strong and stick together (as much as social distancing allows).

 

Edited by Davyc
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21 hours ago, Interferon said:

At least one of our users I know of has died of the virus. It's sad.

That is a tragedy and no one can even begin to know how that affects you - condolences to you, your community and their family and friends.  There are no words, but thoughts and prayers are with you.

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I placed out Corona Virus thread in a section that only logged in members can see. It is a 17 page thread and I am letting people post almost whatever they want to, as long as no arguments break out. So far, this is working out well and allows people to let their fears, frustrations out without tarnishing the rest of the forum. 

 

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Hi there, 
 

Community I have years with you we are really all in fear great panic.

If there really is above there is a god who will do everything to save his world, this one that makes it work like a clock.

My most thanks to all the staff Volunteers, Police, Health and other people who are at the forefront of the Virus,

Those researchers fighting against the clock to find a quick cure to the near-deadly virus that has taken thousands and innocent lives.

Without more I hope to return soon to like all of this wonderful community of forums and their staff that make them one of the best forum platforms.
 

A big hug from Spain ❤️

Edited by cristian romero garcia
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We've seen some extreme growth on our site due to people being under lockdown and such. We're trying our best to keep everyone sane and entertained, but it is quite hard sometimes. Otherwise we're having just as much fun as our users, whilst keeping them entertained.

Another thing we've done is weaponised the community to using their computers to run the Folding@Home application, by turning it into a bit of a competition where our members can earn points (thanks to "Members Shop" application by @TheJackal84). We set up a team, had our members set up their usernames in the team and so on. To date we've churned through: 22,275,352 F@H credits and 936 Work Units, and everyone is feeling very happy for that. It's a bit of a morale boost to be honest. I highly recommend looking into it if you're a community administrator of your own community. 🙂

Edited by Tripp★
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@Matt a “call to arms” most certainly does not mean what you think it means.

In the USA Its a declaration to take up fire power against foreign or domestic aggressors.

Aka Minute Men, “the British are coming” grab your guns it’s a “call to arms”

I lead a very freely ran forum, https://www.mymilitia.com and one of the very first rules is that NO ONE can issue a  “call to arms” for one thing it’s a good way to get in trouble by inducing panic and becoming a threat to the very thing you are intending to preserve.

Just a heads up, i seen this title when you posted it and was waiting on someone else to point it out. This topic may get this site some unwanted attention especially in a time like now.

Respectfully  

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1 hour ago, fix3r said:

@Matt a “call to arms” most certainly does not mean what you think it means.

In the USA Its a declaration to take up fire power against foreign or domestic aggressors.

Aka Minute Men, “the British are coming” grab your guns it’s a “call to arms”

I lead a very freely ran forum, https://www.mymilitia.com and one of the very first rules is that NO ONE can issue a  “call to arms” for one thing it’s a good way to get in trouble by inducing panic and becoming a threat to the very thing you are intending to preserve.

Just a heads up, i seen this title when you posted it and was waiting on someone else to point it out. This topic may get this site some unwanted attention especially in a time like now.

Respectfully  

Like most idioms that are adopted by groups, it can mean several things.

For this purpose, it means "A strong command or inducement for action, especially among a particular group of people."

On 4/4/2020 at 3:13 AM, cristian romero garcia said:

Hi there, 
 

Community I have years with you we are really all in fear great panic.

If there really is above there is a god who will do everything to save his world, this one that makes it work like a clock.

My most thanks to all the staff Volunteers, Police, Health and other people who are at the forefront of the Virus,

Those researchers fighting against the clock to find a quick cure to the near-deadly virus that has taken thousands and innocent lives.

Without more I hope to return soon to like all of this wonderful community of forums and their staff that make them one of the best forum platforms.
 

A big hug from Spain ❤️

Stay safe Cristian! From what I understand, Spain has started to turn a corner now.

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