Moderation creates communities

“I hope people can express themselves. I hope they can share their ideas, share their thoughts. But we’re not a platform for free speech. We are not upholding the First Amendment. That’s the government’s job. We’re a community. And communities have standards for how you have to behave inside that community. And so we think that it’s not anything goes.

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear on how moderation creates communities (The Verge)

Like Emmet Shear, the CEO of Twitch, I’m a firm supporter of community moderation. As community leaders, we’re responsible in setting expectations early on with clear guidelines. That includes a Code of Conduct for behaviour; a Governance policy for how decisions get made as a team; and defined escalation paths for dealing with problematic members.

I’ve gotten some heat in the past for having this position, accusations of censorship and impeding free speech (or freedom of expression, here in Canada). But those are enshrined in our rights as citizens; not in our rights as members of a community group.

That said, I also believe that community guidelines should be ever-evolving. New incidents may pop up that you hadn’t expected. It’s happened to me more than a few times. So, if they’re not covered in your guidelines, update the guidelines to address those issues in the future.

The microcosmic subcultures of online communities

There’s a thread that makes its way through these communities. They often start with a simple idea and a domain name. But as that idea begins to resonate out with a larger and larger group of users, the sands shift, and the community transforms the site from the inside in a sort of symbiotic relationship with the site’s owners.”

A Sense of Community: From Newgrounds to MLKSHK (History Of The Web)

Niche online communities are how I found my way around the web. The same goes for a lot of us older Millennial types.

Whether it was NeoPets or MySpace or Newgrounds — as in the case of this piece from The History Of The Web — these sites were places where we could find other kids who shared our interests.

It’s not so different for the next generation. My friends and I played Warcraft. Now my nephew plays Fortnite. We used AIM and MSN Messenger. Now the kids use Instagram, Discord, and TikTok.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That’s what makes Facebook Groups and Instagram hashtags and Reddit subreddits so potent. They’re a central place — a point of discovery — for people to find others like themselves.

If you intend to put Community Marketing to work for your business, it starts here, by identifying these existing places where the people you want to reach are already coming together.

They’re not places for you to promote or distribute your content. They’re places for you to show up, lurk, listen, and participate.

The more embedded you are within a community, as a contributing member and not as a business with something to sell, the more likely you are to find success.

Thought leadership content

You know movement-first content when you see it. It’s sometimes called thought leadership content. Some people call the posts ‘essays’ instead of articles. It looks and feels very different from content optimized for search since it isn’t beholden to any SEO tactics like word count and keyword density.”

How to Scale Content Without Sacrificing Quality (Animalz)

As Google culls traffic referrals in favour of keeping users in the SERPs, I expect more marketers and publishers to pivot towards content worth subscribing to.

Thought leadership content — or, as Animalz describes it, “movement-first content” — fits squarely into that category.

It’s the sort of content that picks up steam through social shares and newsletter citations. It’s the pontificatorials that busines folks drop as LinkedIn Pulse articles.

Predictions about the future. Opinionated essays. Rants. Reviews.

You know the type.

Now, as someone who’s spent the better part of the last five years chasing SEO-friendly content, I’m really excited for this pivot. Because it means, hopefully, a return of original voice and style and stream-of-consciousness blogging that made the early web such a delight.

These writeups are also great fodder for prompting conversations. And as the pendulum swings back from a radically open web to a connected mesh of niche communities, those conversations are going to matter more and more.

On switching from “audience” to “community”

From hosting 15-25 Executive Members at our monthly roundtables to building out 2PM’s Polymathic, the shift from audience to community has provided serendipity in ways that were previously unimaginable. Subscription revenue becomes the key variable here. Paid memberships provide a level of opportunity that advertising-driven platforms cannot. For a practical example, consider the difference between fast food restaurants and four star establishments.”

From Audiences to Communities (2PML)

This feels so perfectly in tune with a tweet thread I dropped over the weekend. (And, go figure, as I write this, I find my thread cited in the 2PML post…!)

Aside, I submitted a pitch to talk about this very topic at PodCamp Toronto 2020: A Renaissance for Online Communities.

America’s urban transformation

“Many communities grew more racially and ethnically diverse this decade, mirroring the rising diversity of the country as a whole. Such demographic shifts generally aren’t apparent from a satellite’s view. But we found some telltale signs.”

A Decade of Urban Transformation, Seen From Above (New York Times)

An interactive visual essay from Upshot (New York Times) documenting the dramatic transformation of American communities over the past decade.

Presenting? Make your slides obvious

Make it legible. – Make it simple. – Make it obvious.

If you just do these three things, you’ll have a presentation that anyone can probably understand. And since understanding is the foundation for getting someone excited enough to want to talk to you afterwards, it’s a good place to start.”

How to Design a Better Pitch Deck (Y Combinator)

Kevin Hale at Y Combinator wrote this blog post with tech startups in mind, but the takeaways are applicable to any sort of presentation, whether it be to a local meetup group or big ol’ conference audience.

See also: The YC Seed Deck Template

Your presentation is a Netflix series

Your presentation is an event, just like a Netflix series premiere. Build some hype leading up to your presentation, get the anticipation and interest going. Give your audience something to participate in during the presentation. Then keep the conversation and activity going afterwards.”

More than a presentation (WordCamp Miami 2020)

I contributed a guest post to WordCamp Miami 2020. It’s part of a series for new WordCamp and WordPress meetup speakers.

Rather than focusing on the talk itself, I offered some suggestions for how speakers can make their presentation part of a larger conversation or initiative.

+ Check out this follow-up post from David Bisset, a compilation of tips and reminders for new speakers.

++ WordCamp Miami is always a blast. The next one is on February 28th. Early bird tickets are on sale until December 31st. Crossing my fingers I’ll be able to make it down again…!

The uneven playing field of Open Source

“In Open Source, there is a long-held belief in meritocracy, or the idea that the best work rises to the top, regardless of who contributes it. The problem is that a meritocracy assumes an equal distribution of time for everyone in a community.”

The privilege of free time in Open Source (Dries Buytaert)

Great piece from Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.

The playing field isn’t even. Saying that “everyone is welcome to participate” and not acknowledging — or adjusting — for additional factors means everyone isn’t welcome to participate. It isn’t enough.

Take monthly meetups, for example. Always meeting at the same time is great for establishing a routine, e.g. the third Thursday of every month. But then you exclude everyone who works on Thursday nights.

Or what about the location? Maybe it’s somewhere that’s hard to reach by public transit, or inaccessible to wheelchairs. You’re excluding people who can’t make it to the venue, or who can’t even enter it.

As for the counterpoint of “well we can’t please everyone”? That’s true! But you can provide more options. Moving the date around. Trying different venues. Giving folks a way to join remotely.

And as it goes for meetups, so it can go for open source projects. Give people options to participate, and then make it easy for them to discover and learn how to participate.

As Dries puts it:

“While it’s impossible to fix decades of gender and racial inequality with any single action, we must do better. Those in a position to help have an obligation to improve the lives of others. We should not only invite underrepresented groups into our Open Source communities, but make sure that they are welcomed, supported and empowered.”

A new golden age of housing

“Co-ops often have units large enough for families, provide a stable place to live, and usually have below-market housing charges. (Some residents of Ontario co-ops pay even lower rents if they qualify for subsidized units.) After all, there’s no landlord trying to turn a profit.”

Ontario may be headed for a new golden age of housing co-ops (TVO)

Ontario went through a boom of co-op housing in the mid-20th century. Then it all fell apart in the 90’s with government cutbacks. I think we’re due for a resurgence, given the ongoing housing crisis.

+ Co-ops have piqued my interest lately. Housing co-ops are top of mind, but so are co-op organizations in general. From the Ontario Co-Operative Association:

“A co-operative is a legally incorporated organization that is owned by its members, who use the co-operative’s services or purchase their products. They can and do provide virtually every product or service, and can be either for-profit or non-profit enterprises.”

What is a Co-operative? (OCA)

A co-op feels like the logical legal entity to form around a community-centric, for-profit (or not-for-profit) organization, be it for housing or business.