Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Session room: 8
Timeslot: 11 a.m.
Organizer: Kristina Hoeppner
Note taker: Kristina Hoeppner


  • Know who you are trying to engage so you can set up the "right" tool, maybe one that most people are already used to instead of reinventing the wheel or choosing something that everybody has to learn
  • Less is more:
    • Set up as few tools as possible to avoid overloading your community
    • Have few channels so discussions are concentrated in one area and people know where to go to
    • Rather have more activity in one place than no activity in many places because you want people to come back and to find things again
    • Gradually introduce new tools / ways of engagement, e.g. by polling people, providing a link to something new and seeing if people are interested in using that different tool
    • Make it clear where people can go for help.
  • Not seen much anymore: mailing lists for newbies where they can get acquainted with the community and can learn the ropes of posting in that community.
  • If something doesn't work for the community, try to find out how to change things so people get more engaged. This might mean changing the tools or changing the format. For one participant in the session, having frequent webinars was very successful for bringing people into the discussion, but still not much engagement between the individual sessions.
  • Make sure your metrics are right: if 1 out of 1,000 people posts in the community, you might actually be doing quite well.
  • As community support person / moderator etc., be visible in the community, answer questions frequently, comment so people "see" you and know that their posts are read. Nothing is worst than posting into the void and not knowing who might see it.
  • You can target specific people and invite them into the discussion, e.g. via email. Idea: Send your post not only to the mailing list but also to others in the field whom you would like to join the discussion. When they reply to all, they are also posting to the mailing list. Problem: Privacy and making it clear to people that their mail can be read by many people.
  • It's easier to walk away from a forum than from a mailing list because not everyone has your email.
  • Forums that do not allow for email notifications are difficult to keep track off esp. for newbies who may not know the technology well or do not have time to check online frequently to see if somebody posted something. -> Make it easy for people to stay part of the conversation.
  • Encourage users through other channels to participate, e.g. mention it in the newsletter, tweet about it etc.
  • Don't assume that everybody knows where to go. Repeatedly state where discussions take place because there are always new people who do not yet know.
  • Have FAQs for how to participate in the discussions:
    • Pro: People learn about accepted behavior
    • Con: People don't read it anyway, why bother?
  • Active maintenance: e.g. some communities have conventions, e.g. for when things are resolved; have ratings, follow-ups
  • Rating system: What are you rating? Do you rate the software, the contribution? How can you be consistent in your rating? Are ratings always good?
  • Does it have to be a rating system or can it just be an acknowledgment?
  • Gamification
    • How far do you want to go? It doesn't work for everyone.
    • Create fun badges that people want to earn.
    • Don't tell everything, e.g. don't give the rules for how to reach the top 2 levels. That adds to the fun and mystery because people also try to figure out how to get there.
  • Who are you collecting feedback for? The developers or for improving the community?
  • Debian has a bi-weekly newsletter in which interesting bits and pieces are pointed out -> point people to stuff that they might want to follow up
  • Also look at the moderator(s): How to keep them motivated, on board and contributing. Sometimes a "Thank you" from a person who's question was answered can go a long way. That doesn't mean that "Thank yous" should be written all the time and for every response. Some communities actually frown upon saying "Thank you" only as that doesn't contribute to the discussion and just uses space. But in another community it might be fine or even accepted.
  • Make it personal: You can also write personal messages and see if they give different information, engage more openly -> then find ways to push that public, e.g. by either asking them to do so themselves or by posting a comment of your own


  • Simplicity rules: Use as few tools as possible so as not to overload your (new) community.
  • Know your audience: Who do you build the community for and do they already have ways of engaging?
  • Notifications: Have an easy way for people to see follow-up posts, e.g. through email notifications so they don't have to remember to go back to a forum, search for it etc.
  • Invite people personally to participate to get discussions started.
  • Make it known where people can engage in discussions; don't just do it once, but repeatedly and in different ways / channels where your users are.
  • Be active: Respond to posts so people know that others are reading your things
  • Make it personal: Also respond one-to-one to see if people are responding differently, to find out how they might engage
  • Community managers / moderators like feedback to know that people are reading posts, but that shouldn't amount to constant "Thank yous"
  • Gamification and ratings work for some but not all.
  • Poll your users to find out what works and what doesn't.