Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Session Info

  • Session Name: Emotional barriers to participation
  • Session Room & Timeslot: Room 6 @ 3pm
  • Organizer: Daniel Johnson @teknotus
  • Note taker: Meghan Gill, @meghanpgill,


  • Forum Lurkers - analytics show that lots of people look, but few actually participate. Why do some participate, but others don't?
  • Getting new people to attend user groups

What are the barriers?

  • People need to feel a sense of belonging
  • Use of jargon - include people by letting them say that they don't know what that means
  • Learning disabilities - e.g. dyslexia - some forums don't have spell checkers
  • User Groups - people are scared because you they won't understand. Anecdote about needing to know Haskell in order to attend a user group.
  • How to get people into a comfort zone online?
  • Many people are shy, introverted
  • Cultural aspects - certain cultures don't ask for help
  • Maybe they've been answered already?
  • Shift from forums to Facebook --> less participation, loss of anonymity, use for social interactions rather than professional
  • People would rather ask questions in places where they have a relationship, rather than on a public mailing list

Suggested Actions

  • Ping people offline and ask people to contribute their expertise - "Hey, can you answer this?"
  • Inviting people out to drink ahead of time to introduce a few people to one another so that we have buddies. Better to be buddies with other members rather than the leader (who is likely occuppied).
  • Welcome new people and make them aware of what's out there. Clear welcome guidelines. Hey we miss you! Automated emails.
  • Mentoring: Community of project leaders - new projects have to be introduced through a mentor
  • Clearly codified rules - does that scare people away, or make them feel more comfortable posting? On the first email tell everyone to be nice.
  • Incentivize or gamify to encourage people to post
  • Leverage the leaders in the group to have them work with the newbs
  • Any first time posters in this thread, I will do x
  • Culture is very friendly, easy to sign in
  • Meetup can require people to bring someone new
  • Take the time to set the tone on your list - you may end up getting tangential questions
  • Randomly ask how things are going, or ask a question about what they're working on
  • When people leave, ask them why, or what they are working on