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58 minutes | Oct 18, 2021
Building a Database of CSAM for AOL, One Image at a Time
If you work in content moderation or with a team that specializes in content moderation, then you know that the fight against child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a challenging one. The New York Times reported that in 2018, technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of child sexual abuse. Ralph Spencer, our guest for this episode, has been working to make online spaces safer and combatting CSAM for more than 20 years, including as a technical investigator at AOL. Ralph describes how when he first started at AOL, in the mid-’90s, the work of finding and reviewing CSAM was largely manual. His team depended on community reports and all of the content was manually reviewed. Eventually, this manual review led to the creation of AOL’s Image Detection Filtering Process (IDFP), which reduced the need to manually review the actual content of CSAM. Working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), law enforcement, and a coalition of other companies, Ralph shares how he saw his own team’s work evolve, what he considered his own metrics of success when it comes to this work, and the challenges that he sees for today’s platforms. The tools, vocabulary, and affordances for professionals working to make the internet safer have all improved greatly, but in this episode, Patrick and Ralph discuss the areas that need continued improvement. They discuss Section 230 and what considerations should be made if it were to be amended. Ralph explains that when he worked at AOL, the service surpassed six million users. As of last year, Facebook had 2.8 billion monthly active users. With a user base that large and a monopoly on how many people communicate, what will the future hold for how children, workers, and others that use them are kept safe on such platforms? Ralph and Patrick also discuss: Ralph’s history fighting CSAM at AOL, both manually and with detection tools Apple’s announcement to scan iCloud photos for NCMEC database matches How Ralph and other professionals dealing with CSAM protect their own health and well-being Why Facebook is calling for new or revised internet laws to govern its own platform Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes How Ralph fell into trust and safety work (20:23): “[Living in the same apartment building as a little girl who was abused] was a motivational factor [in doing trust and safety work]. I felt it was a situation where, while I did basically all I could in that situation, I [also] didn’t do enough. When this [job] came along … I saw it as an opportunity. If I couldn’t make the situation that I was dealing with in real life correct, then maybe I can do something to make a situation for one of these kids in these [CSAM] pictures a little bit better.” –Ralph Spencer Coping with having to routinely view CSAM (21:07): “I developed a way of dealing with [having to view CSAM]. I’d leave work and try not to think about it. When we were still doing this as a team … everybody at AOL generally got 45 minutes to an hour for lunch. We’d take two-hour lunches, go out, walk around. We did team days before people really started doing them. We went downtown in DC one day and went to the art gallery. The logic for that was like, you see ugly stuff every day, let’s go look at some stuff that has cultural value or has some beauty to it, and we’ll stop and have lunch at a nice restaurant.” –Ralph Spencer How organizations work with NCMEC and law enforcement to report CSAM (28:32): “[When our filtering tech] catches something that it sees in the [CSAM] database, it packages a report which includes the image, the email that the image was attached to, and a very small amount of identifying information. The report is then automatically sent to [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]. NCMEC looks at it, decides if it’s something that they can run with, and if it is … they send the report to law enforcement in [the correct] jurisdiction.” –Ralph Spencer When “Ralph caught a fed” (37:37): “We caught the guy who was running the Miami office of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. He was sending [CSAM]. … That one set me back a little bit. … I remember asking the guy who started the team that I was on, who went on to become an expert witness. He worked in the legal department, and his job basically was to go around the country and testify at all the trials explaining how the technology that caught these images worked. I said, ‘I got an email about this guy from ICE down in Florida, was that us?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, that was you.'” –Ralph Spencer Facebook’s multiple lines of communication offer multiple avenues for content violations (45:08): “Zuckerberg is running around talking about how he’s trying to get the world closer together by communicating and increasing the lines of communication. A lot of these lines just lead to destructive ends.” –Ralph Spencer About Ralph Spencer Ralph Spencer has been working to make online spaces safer for more than 20 years, starting with his time as a club editorial specialist (message board editor) at Prodigy and then graduating to America Online. He’s wrestled with some of the most challenging material on the internet. During his time at AOL, Ralph was a terms of service representative, a graphic analyst, and a case investigator before landing his final position as a technical investigator. In that position, he was in charge of dealing with all issues involving child sexual abuse material (CSAM), then referred to as “illegal images” by the company. Ralph oversaw the daily operation of the automated processes used to scan AOL member email for these images and the reporting pf these incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which, ultimately, sent these reports to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The evidence that Ralph, and the team he worked with in AOL’s legal department, compiled contributed to numerous arrests and convictions of individuals for the possession and distribution of CSAM. He currently lives in the Washington, DC area and works as a freelance trust and safety consultant. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Ralph Spencer on LinkedIn National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Andrew Vachss Apple’s extended protections for children Derek Powazek on Community Signal Derek’s thread regarding Apple’s announcement The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong? (the New York Times) The Facebook Files (the Wall Street Journal) Jeff Horwitz on Community Signal Sophie Zhang on Community Signal The Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Says She Wants to Fix the Company, Not Harm It (the Wall Street Journal) Facebook’s Zuckerberg defends encryption, despite child safety concerns (Reuters) aol.com by Kara Swisher Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
28 minutes | Oct 4, 2021
Shifting Revel, a Community for Women Over 40, from In-Person to Online Overnight
As community practitioners, we often serve communities that we don’t necessarily belong to. But how would you approach designing a community platform, events, and policies for a demographic that you don’t belong to? Alexa Wahr, the COO of Revel, a community for women over 40, says that she and her co-founder build by putting their community first. “We absolutely listen to our members. We don’t try to pretend like we know what exactly our members are going through or what it’s like to be a woman in their life. That doesn’t mean that we can’t help to build the community and build the tools that help them connect.” In this episode of Community Signal, Alexa shares how the policies that govern the platform, Revel’s approach to safety during the pandemic, and Revel’s acquisition of The Woolfer, are all grounded in putting their members’ needs, safety, and experiences first. Alexa also discusses how Revel, an in-person events-based community, shifted entirely to virtual events in light of the pandemic. Through this model, Revel members have continued to have meaningful interactions, build friendships, and support one another through COVID-19. Alexa and Patrick also discuss: How Revel is encouraging their event hosts to stay safe now that in-person events have resumed Revel’s plans to introduce paid events into their community The differences between the Revel and Woolfer communities and how they’re balancing the needs for both Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Building the Revel community with member needs first (5:10): “We don’t try to pretend like we know what exactly our members are going through or what it’s like to be a woman in their life. That doesn’t mean that we can’t help to build the community and build the tools that help them connect.” –@alexawahr Virtual events are impactful and here to stay (12:20): “We’ve seen that over [virtual meetings], you can actually form really deep connections. We now have members who have formed really great friendships across the country. Can’t wait to travel to meet one another. … [I’m] happy to say that virtual events are definitely here to stay. We have yet to see what the final balance of in-person versus virtual events will be at scale, but certainly, a large percentage of our events will continue to be virtual.” –@alexawahr Fostering the events that Revel members want (14:50): “If our members start to perceive that going to a Revel event is being pushed products or services in a sneaky way, they simply won’t come back. We take it very seriously and really err on the side of our members first and our hosts secondary when it comes to violations like that.” –@alexawahr On the future of Revel (24:40): “[Revel is] a community for women over 40. The community shares that identity and we’re about making connections, finding friendships, supporting one another, and really bringing light to women in midlife and all of the amazing things that they’re doing. That doesn’t mean that women within the community don’t have their own interests, feelings, and identities and allowing every woman over 40 to join Revel, but then find her niche, her group within the community, is also something that we think will be a big part of what Revel is and [we’re] excited to build that out.” –@alexawahr About Alexa Wahr Alexa Wahr is the co-founder and COO of Revel Gatherings. Previously, Alexa was a senior director in operations at health insurance startup Bright Health. Prior to Bright Health, Alexa worked in strategy and business development for Target and was an healthcare investment banking analyst at Piper Jaffray. Alexa has a BBA from Emory University and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Alexa Wahr on Twitter Revel Gatherings Nina Collins, founder of The Woolfer Nina Collins on Community Signal: Moving a Community for Women Over 40 From Facebook Groups to a Paid Subscription App and Building Inclusive Communities, Workplaces, and an Inclusive Profession Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
42 minutes | Sep 20, 2021
How Teleheath Provides More Efficient Healthcare for Patients and Providers – and the Role Online Communities Can Play
How did the pandemic impact your relationships with your healthcare providers? Did telehealth enable you to continue seeing or connecting with your providers to receive the care that you needed? In this episode of Community Signal, Denzil Coleman, a telehealth coordinator, developing and maintaining digital health interventions at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Telehealth, discusses how the adoption of telehealth interactions and practices during the pandemic may lead to continued and more long-term improvements and efficiencies in our healthcare system. Denzil explains that telehealth is “anything where healthcare is being impacted by a patient and an actor that are not in the same location. That includes a video, that includes transmissions of information, asynchronous messaging, [and] remote patient monitoring.” Telehealth can create efficiencies for both patients and providers –– giving patients flexibility to see their providers without the burden of travel and with the option to invite more caregivers into these interactions. Whereas in the past, patients may have received pamphlets with details about in-person support groups or other care options, today there are online communities and support groups and insurance companies themselves even offer telehealth options. With these options come more opportunities for patients to be more engaged in the care that they receive and for providers to thoughtfully care for patients. Denzil and Patrick also discuss how: COVID, the shifting landscape of the healthcare profession, and the fact that folks are living longer, healthier lives all impacts the healthcare system The flexibility of telehealth allows a patient’s support system to become more involved in their care Creating efficiencies in the healthcare system should not equate to patients receiving less care Value-based care could resemble a community-like investment in overall care Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes What exactly is telehealth? (2:01): “To put it simply, telehealth is … anything where healthcare is being impacted by a patient and an actor that are not in the same location. That includes a video, that includes transmissions of information, asynchronous messaging, [and] remote patient monitoring.” –@denzilcoleman How the pandemic is leading to wider adoption of teleheath interactions (4:55): “Even at the Center for Telehealth at MUSC, where I work, we saw a very significant uptick in telehealth interactions of all kinds since the start of the pandemic, just because pretty much every interaction had to take place that way for patient safety. The forced adoption of the time of the emergency is really what prompted it, but we’ll take it because as people are getting more comfortable with these modalities, we’re able to push digital health forward a lot quicker.” –@denzilcoleman Online communities can help keep patients engaged in their own care (8:10): “A lot of times, you may give an intervention or a plan of care in which the patient is not fully engaged. Having them as part of one of these [online] communities where they feel supported, encouraged to take part and advocate for their own care, and share experiences, it keeps them engaged. It keeps their focus on their health and on getting better.” –@denzilcoleman Healthcare optimization could lead to online communities (22:51): “[Healthcare optimization means] expanding the reach of what we already do, expanding the reach of providers who are overwhelmed, overworked, and facing a mushrooming population of people who are living longer, healthier lives. Which is great, but at the same time, we are having less and less people graduate from medical school becoming doctors. Of course, those are being supplemented by what we refer to as mid-level providers and a large increase of people becoming physician assistants and nurse practitioners, which is also great, but our providers aren’t matching the rate of individuals surviving. We have to create the efficiencies. We have no choice. We have to use technology to do the best we can, and online communities are part of that.” –@denzilcoleman Efficiencies in the healthcare ecosystem do not mean a reduction in care (30:05): “Some [existing healthcare practices] aren’t necessary, don’t add value, or may even be wasteful. … Imagine if you’re with a provider, and you’ve had a long-term condition over the past 30 years. The last 15 of them, you saw your provider every three months, no matter what. Now, in 2021, your provider tells you, ‘I’m only going to see you in person maybe one time a year instead of four, but you’re going to come see me in person. I’m going to do an exam, then I’m going to have a little remote monitoring on a monthly basis. Then we’re going to do a three-month video-only checkup. Then we’re going to do something in six months.’ You only come to the clinic and get an exam the one time. It’s not because we don’t want to care for you. It’s because we want to create efficiencies for everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.” –@denzilcoleman About Denzil Coleman Denzil Coleman has served as a telehealth coordinator, developing and maintaining digital health interventions at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Center for Telehealth since 2017. He holds a Master of Science in Health Information Technology and is completing a Doctor of Education in Educational Practice and Innovation, both from The University of South Carolina. Denzil has worked in healthcare for nearly two decades including stints at Roper Saint Francis and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He also lectures in and facilitates healthcare management and technology education programs in the United States, United Kingdom, and India. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Denzil Coleman on Twitter MUSC Health Center for Telehealth The American Telemedicine Association Alzheimer’s Society Serena Snoad on Community Signal Community Signal episode about strategies used by anti-vax influencers Dr. Kelli Garber and Dr. Ragan Dubose-Morris, who Denzil works with at MUSC Dr. David Valentine, who Denzil shouted out Dr. Panos Constantinides, who has mentored Denzil Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
40 minutes | Sep 6, 2021
While Making a Mixtape, Asher Roth Built an Online Community
In between his three albums, rapper Asher Roth has released several mixtapes, including 2011’s Pabst & Jazz and his The Greenhouse Effect series. The third entry in that series, The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 3, hit streaming services on September 3, 2021. But there’s something about his latest mixtape that makes it unique from every album, EP, and mixtape he’s released so far: It was a collaboration with his online community of fans and supporters. As Asher contemplated making music during the COVID-19 pandemic, he came up with an idea: What if The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 3 was “entirely produced by fan/friend/follower submissions?” He set up a Discord, and off they went. He’d post acapellas – audio clips of only his vocals – and community members would produce song submissions, which Asher would review live on Twitch. The project would adopt a narrative story, adding guest verses from the community, too. With the mixtape out, Asher stops by to talk about the collaborative process behind the release, the tools he used, and the community building lessons he learned along the way. One of the great things about this story is that the creation of this mixtape has helped birth an active online community, which Asher hopes will foster further collaborations between members. Asher and Patrick also discuss: How guardrails help encourage sustained creativity Why Discord? Now that it has achieved its first big goal, what’s next for the community? Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Why the RetroHash Discord might put a cap on member count (10:42): “With these [major social media] platforms, they’ve grown so big. They’re almost essentially black holes eating themselves. It’s really hard for you to garner any attention without being extremely controversial. … Getting away from the biggest, best, largest, and fastest, and just concentrating on who’s really paying attention and who cares seems to be working [for the RetroHash Discord]. Keeping it to a volume that is adaptable and able to move with the times is important.” –@asherroth When you’re starting an online community, it’s easy to get discouraged by the big numbers of other platforms (13:22): “When you look at YouTube views, if that gets sucked up into the right portal, you’re talking about hundreds of millions of views, if not a billion. When you’re comparing your online community to something like that, of course you’re going to be like, ‘This is never going to work.’ … [But] if you think about it in real world numbers, if you’re doing a show, and there are 1,500 people there, that’s a lot of people. … [Conversion and retention rates are the] kinds of things I’m a little bit more interested in than the grand scheme, final tally. Those numbers are being a little bit gamed.” –@asherroth When you’re starting an online community, it’s easy to get discouraged by the big numbers of other platforms (25:01): “The easiest way to integrate other artists [into the creation of The Greenhouse Effect, Vol. 3] was to give them challenges, give them direction, and give them a role instead of just leaving it open for interpretation because that allowed me to really filter down who did this challenge the best.” –@asherroth When you’re starting an online community, it’s easy to get discouraged by the big numbers of other platforms (37:33): “[On the RetroHash Discord], I would love to start to focus on specific artists. Artist development has always been something that I’ve been fond of. It’s kind of disappeared. The music industry is pretty vigilant about getting young talent. You have a lot of these kids who are getting into the game at 16, 17, 18, 19 years old. They’re pretty green and naïve to the ways. I’ve always been more than happy to be somebody that says, ‘Look out for this. If you see this, this is what this means,’ etc. [We can use] the Discord to focus on artists and use the producers, tools, and people who are there to help.” –@asherroth About Asher Roth Asher Roth is a rapper who first achieved mainstream success with his international hit, “I Love College,” and his debut album, 2009’s Asleep in the Bread Aisle. His most recent album, Flowers on the Weekend, was released in 2020. Between his albums, Asher produced a run of critically-acclaimed mixtapes, including 2011’s Pabst & Jazz, and his The Greenhouse Effect series. The latest edition in that series, The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 3, available on September 3, 2021, came together through an online collaboration with fans and supporters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Asher releases projects online under the brand RetroHash. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community RetroHash, Asher’s website The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 3, Asher’s latest mixtape, created through collaboration with his community of fans and supporters Asher’s Discord server Sunflower Philly, “a community-based, nonprofit organization focused on providing access to art, music & sustainable resources through a curated series of events and programs in North Philadelphia,” that Asher is creative director of Asher on Instagram Asher on Twitter Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
34 minutes | Aug 23, 2021
Here’s How Anti-Vaxxers Are Spreading Misinformation Despite Your Best Moderation Efforts
What moderation tactics have you used or seen as a mechanism to curtail the spread of misinformation in communities and on social media platforms? Word detection, link blocking, and digital stickers promoting legitimate information sources may immediately come to mind. But what would happen if you ran your moderation tools against URLs shared in link-in-bio services used in your community? Or what if you learned that folks on your platform were using specific codewords to circumvent word detection? Or posting screenshots of misinformation rather than using plain-text? People are getting creative with how they share all types of information online, misinformation included. Are our moderation strategies keeping up? In this discussion, Patrick chats with Joseph Schafer, an undergraduate student of Computer Science and Ethics at the University of Washington and Rachel Moran, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. They discuss their research and how anti-vaccine advocates are circumventing content moderation efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and large social networks. Some of their findings might surprise you! For example, specific folk theories have emerged that define how some believe social platforms and algorithms work to moderate their content and conversations. And whether these theories are true or not, the strategies forming around them do seem to help people keep questionable content up long enough for researchers to come across it. So, where do we start? How can we detect misinformation if people are using codewords like pizza or Moana to get around our tools and teams? There may not be precise solutions here just yet, but Rachel and Joseph both offer ideas to help us down the right path, which starts with deciding that the engagement that brews around misinformation is not safe for the long-term health of your community. Among our topics: Why Linktree needs community guidelines and how link-in-bio sites have become a vector for misinformation The folk theories that are informing how we perceive and operate around social media algorithms Adapting your moderation strategies to better find misinformation Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Using lexical variation to circumvent moderation filters (2:45): “They found this big group of people who were using ‘dancing’ or other kinds of verbs to mean getting the vaccine. Complete replacement of the word [vaccine]. You wouldn’t know that that meant vaccination unless you were a member of that community and had the institutional knowledge that comes with being a member. We see [lexical variation] on a spectrum.” –@rachelemoran Emojis, code words, and symbols can form the insider language of a community (3:08): “We see ‘v@ccine’ where the A is an @ sign or people using the vaccine emoji rather than using the word at all. They believe that if they put that instead of spelling out vaccine, … they’ll avoid being caught up in the algorithmic moderation that happens on platforms.” –@rachelemoran Misinformation finds a hiding place in link-in-bios (5:05): “There’s a variety of ways that you can … get around [link blocks]. One might be, for example, using a screenshot of an article or something that is vaccine misinformation, rather than putting in the text of the misinformation directly. … There’s also various websites like URL shorteners or URL compilers, or even just a Word document … that is filled with links to sites that maybe these major platforms are moderating and blocking.” –@joey__schafer Using vaccination promotion tools to promote anti-vaccine content (10:56): “[On Instagram stories, you can use] that little sticker that says, ‘Let’s get vaccinated.’ Then Instagram collates those of your friends that have [used that] sticker … and it goes at the top of your [stories section]. … [We’re seeing people] put a sticker over the top of that sticker or they are like, ‘Let’s not get vaccinated.'” –@rachelemoran The engagement surrounding misinformation isn’t good for the long-term health of your community or your business (32:06): “Part of the problem with misinformation is that it’s really engaging. When you’re making money off of engagement, there’s only so far you’re going to go to take down misinformation without going too far into your bottom line. … I feel like there is a tide-turning moment happening where the bigger platforms are realizing that misinformation is a vulnerability that degrades the product that can have economic disadvantages.” –@rachelemoran About Joseph Schafer and Rachel Moran Joseph Schafer is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Washington, studying Computer Science and Ethics. He has also worked as a research assistant for the university’s Center for an Informed Public since January of 2020, studying various forms of online misinformation and disinformation. Joseph hopes to pursue graduate school in information science, in order to understand how misinformation takes advantage of recently developed socio-technical systems, like social media, to influence our society. Rachel Moran is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. Moran received her doctoral degree from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her research explores the role of trust in digital information environments and is particularly concerned with how trust is implicated in the spread of mis- and dis-information. Her research has been published in academic journals and been covered by the New York Times, Vox, Vice, and others. She was also an affiliate fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics and UNC Chapel Hills’ Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Joseph Schafer on Twitter Joseph Schafer’s website Rachel Moran on Twitter University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public Content moderation avoidance strategies, via The Virality Project Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection, via NBC News Linktree’s community guidelines First I “like” it, then I hide it: Folk Theories of Social Feeds Dr. Jennifer Beckett on Community Signal A top spreader of coronavirus misinformation says he will delete his posts after 48 hours, via the New York Times Election Integrity Partnership, which Joseph and Rachel both worked on Jay Rosen on Community Signal Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
39 minutes | Aug 9, 2021
Fostering Resiliency for Community, Moderation, Trust, and Safety Pros
When was the last time you mandated that your community, moderation, trust, and safety colleagues schedule time for out of queue activities? When was the last time you led by example and took a break or participated in other wellness activities before you felt burnout? What was the last tool your product team built to help foster resiliency for your moderators? While we can’t mitigate all burnout, in this episode, Patrick and our guest, Adelin Cai, discuss how employee resiliency programs and policies can help you create an all-around safer environment for your colleagues and teams. Tools like well-defined queues and changing the presentation of harmful content are also potential product solutions that can foster resiliency from a workflow perspective. With experience in policy, trust, and safety leadership for Pinterest, Twitter, and Google, Adelin also shares her approach for thinking about the metrics that matter. Spoiler: Metrics that revolve around quantity, like number of cases closed, or even quality, like CSAT, may not always equate to success or reflect the health of your community. Adelin also discusses working collaboratively with product and engineering teams to ensure that there’s transparency about what is being built and launched and what community behaviors or metrics should be monitored to indicate performance and to influence the further direction of the product. Among our other topics: The baseline for an employee resilience program What an ideal work relationship with product and engineering looks like How to reallocate resources and budget to prioritize essential moderation, trust, and safety work Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes All content moderation can contribute to stress (02:54): “[For the] folks reviewing content, are there little interventions that could take place to eliminate the strain or the stress that people are going through as they’re looking at content? We think about this usually in the context of the worst of the worst content, the most violent content, but there are many little things in the course of doing trust and safety work that could accumulate, and stress is cumulative.” –@adelin Product improvements that can foster resiliency for moderation teams (10:55): “It could be as simple as having different queues for different types of content that people are going to look at and then rotating people through the different queues. … If you have someone looking at really, really horrible child sexual exploitation content all day, that’s not a healthy place for them to be in. They should be able to rotate out to a different queue.” –@adelin Building relationships could lead to building better tools (38:01): “Make friends with your product team; make friends with the engineers because that just opens the door to having a conversation about how difficult it is when X, Y, and Z doesn’t work right. I’ve also [asked engineers to] shadow this team for ten minutes and [then they] see how inefficient the product tooling is.” –@adelin About Adelin Cai Adelin Cai is an online content policy and tech operations expert who’s spent the last decade working with and leading teams responsible for product policies and their enforcement. As Pinterest’s former head of policy, Adelin led the team that developed the company’s principles and core values around content moderation, covering a range of issues from hateful speech to medical (mis)information to dank memes. Prior to Pinterest, she ran Twitter’s Legal Ads Policy team, guiding policy and operations for Twitter’s self-serve and international advertising products. Adelin Cai is also a co-founder of the Trust & Safety Professional Association (TSPA) and the affiliated Trust & Safety Foundation (TSF). She currently serves as TSPA’s board chair. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Adelin Cai on LinkedIn Adelin Cai on Twitter Sidequest Trust & Safety Professional Association Trust & Safety Foundation Patrick and Adelin discuss the following Sidequest guides: Employee resilience program recommendations Building a Trust and Safety mindset Policy development and launch checklist Wikimedia health metrics Sin Eaters Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
55 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
What Makes an Online Community a Home?
May 21st, 2021 marked 20 years since the launch of KarateForums.com. In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick speaks with five forum members that have been on KarateForums.com for nearly 65 years, collectively. Together, they discuss what keeps them coming back to the community as members, moderators, and martial artists. While each member brings different experiences and background to the community, Bob, Brian, Danielle, Devin, and Noah all cite the quality of the interactions that they’ve had in the community and how it has brought out their skills as community members, teachers, and students of the martial arts. Those interactions helped these folks launch their own martial arts schools, grow as martial artists, and pay it forward to hundreds of thousands of other folks seeking out knowledge. Whether you’re listening to this episode with 20 years of community management experience or you’re working on approaching that milestone, a few things emerge as truths from this episode –– that it’s not the size of a community that matters, but the level of care that you find there. That community members can go from the verge of being banned to becoming model community members, if given the chance. That communities thrive when they help their members achieve their goals and pay it forward to others. Whether this is your first year as a community manager or your twentieth, we hope that you find these lessons and stories helpful. And here’s to another 20 years of KarateForums.com! They also discuss: The benefits of your members joining other communities How KarateForums.com helped each guest find confidence, friends, and more Why Devin describes KarateForums.com as charitable Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Martial arts instructors have been shaped by KarateForums.com (07:06): “If we talk about my martial arts career, [KarateForums.com] really shaped … how I approach teaching other people. I obviously went to university; after that, I got a job. KarateForums.com has probably been with me for all of my life-defining moments.” -Danielle Williams How Danielle’s needs as a community member have evolved since she first joined the community (08:09): “[When I] initially [joined KarateForums.com], I probably would have been talking about techniques, or training methods, or thinking about it as an individual. Now, I come back and a lot of my conversations are, as an instructor, how can I do this? How can I change this? How can I help my own students?” -Danielle Williams Why Danielle continues to be a moderator after so many years (12:46): “If you get benefits from something, then you need to give back. I’ve been able to take so much from [KarateForums.com]. The experience of others and just having that sounding board, a community to come back to, and just have a chat. I’d classify a lot of the members of KarateForums.com … as friends now. I’ve taken a lot, so for me, it’s really important to be able to give back and help chaperone the community forwards.” -Danielle Williams What makes KarateForums.com feel like home (17:50): “KarateForums.com is the melting pot for both martial artists and non-martial artists alike, to get together, as a cohesive whole, to discuss a plethora of topics in a safe, fun, and informative atmosphere. … There’s a unique and unbreakable camaraderie that I’ve found that makes KarateForums.com a place that we call home.” -Robert “Bob” Mitcham Different perspectives on KarateForums.com bring value to all members (33:48): “Being able to talk with so many people with different perspectives in a positive, constructive manner just added to what I could take back to my classes, or when I go read another book, and think about it from my perspective or a perspective that somebody posted on a thread.” -Brian Walker When an online community stops you from regressing in your martial art (41:58): “[After moving to area where I didn’t have a dojo, KarateForums.com allowed me to] stay connected, so that when I did go back to a place where I had a dojo, it wasn’t starting from scratch. I felt like I had that continuity the entire time I was away. It also gave me things to work on, on my own. Something that I thought was interesting was I actually made progress. When I went back to my dojo, I actually went up a rank rather than regressing, which most people would expect to do after two years away. … It was unexpected.” -Devin Van Curen Quality of interactions goes a long way for any community (43:28): “The moderators are very invested in [KarateForums.com]. The standards are much higher for interaction, for being charitable, for staying on topic. That really changes the quality of the interactions, even though it might not be as active as the larger forums on the larger websites, the quality is much higher.” -Devin Van Curen It can take time to appreciate how a community is moderated (51:00): “[That I became a moderator] is actually an interesting twist because when I first joined [KarateForums.com], my initial thought was, ‘Oh man, this is really strictly moderated,’ in comparison to all the other forums that were basically a free-for-all. At first, I actually felt a little stifled. … Over the first couple of years that I was there, it became apparent to me that it was the one forum that I had found that, while it may not be the busiest – there’s not constant activity flooding threads with posts – the conversations that were there didn’t devolve into nonsense all the time. It stayed on topic. It stayed respectful and beneficial. Whereas a lot of the other communities that I was a part of, somebody would post what was a legitimate question, somebody would answer with some snide remark, and then you’d get three pages of responses just building off of the snide remark.” –@nmlegel Giving back as a moderator and community member (52:10): “I really value the level of moderation [on KarateForums.com] and so when the opportunity was presented for me to join the moderation team, I thought that was a good opportunity for me to give back in a sense of helping to preserve that … general feeling that if you start a conversation or join a conversation there, that you will be able to engage in a conversation that is respectful and on-topic, and not just a free-for-all.” –@nmlegel About Our Guests For this episode, we’re joined by five members of KarateForums.com. In order of appearance, this includes: Danielle Williams, a KarateForums.com member for over 14 years. If you’re ever in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, visit Danielle’s school, Nuneaton Taekwon-Do. Robert “Bob” Mitcham, a martial artist for more than 50 years, who has been a member of KarateForums.com for over 13 years. In support of Bob and those fighting cancer, please support Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Brian Walker, who has more posts on KarateForums.com than any other contributor and has been a member for over 15 years. Devin Van Curen, a member of KarateForums.com for 12 years. Noah Legel, who has been a member of KarateForums.com for over a decade. Visit Noah’s Karate Obsession and find it on Facebook and Instagram. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community KarateForums.com Nuneaton Taekwon-Do, Danielle’s martial arts school Cancer Treatment Centers of America Podcamp Topeka, where Brian and Patrick met in-person Waza Wednesday, featuring Noah Karate Obession, Noah’s website Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
59 minutes | Jun 28, 2021
Dismantling the Model Minority Myth and Fostering Safer Communities, One Conversation at a Time
For this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by community professionals Jenn Hudnet, Lana Lee, and Phoebe Venkat. They candidly share stories about the impact of racism and stereotypes against Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in their own lives, in the workplace, and in the communities they manage. Jenn, Lana, and Phoebe each had stories to share about their families, the circumstances that brought them to the United States, the racism and discrimination they faced, and the shared generational trauma they’re working through together. “We have to look forward. We’ve got to acknowledge some of the wrongs that happened to our parents, relatives, and friends in the past. It’s very difficult to do. We’re doing it, but it definitely takes a community of community to get that done,” shared Phoebe (7:47). There’s also a discussion around the work that companies and colleagues must do to maintain safe workplaces and communities. “Your intention might not always be to hurt or harm someone or to make fun of someone, but the impact is still there. Being able to understand the impact that our words and actions have on others is important [as well as] being able to acknowledge the impact that it might have on somebody. I think microaggressions are something that I’ve even had to learn to recognize because I’ve just internalized them and accepted them over the years of being here,” said Jenn (21:12). And there’s an important reminder in this episode to see your colleagues and community members as individuals. Individuals that might have a bad day, that might make mistakes, or that might be comforted just by your presence. “Sometimes we hear stories of people. [Maybe] they posted a really good picture one day and then the next day they’re feeling down. … As a community manager, [it’s really important to] take time to read and understand where people are coming from,” explains Lana (49:46). We’re thankful to Jenn, Lana, and Phoebe for sharing with us. May this conversation lead to safer communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, and personal boundaries. Lana, Jenn, Patrick, and Phoebe also discuss: The model minority myth and the harm it causes Recognizing emotional labor and setting boundaries There are no growth hacks when it comes to helping your community members feel safe Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Moving forward through generational trauma (8:03): “It’s interesting for us as the children because it’s very painful to come to terms with [the trauma that] our parents have experienced and even to help them understand. There’s so much that they’ve just accepted as part of life, racism, and pain that they just endure because they are so strong based on the past that they’ve endured. Part of that is also embracing that pain and helping them to embrace it and moving forward with them.” –@jenntothechen The ripple effects of the model minority myth (12:51): “If we’re treated better because we’re Asians or Pacific Islanders, we’re seen as the ‘teacher’s pet.’ Of course, it does definitely have advantages, but do you want advantages that come at the expense of other people’s suffering?” -@pheebkat Your presence can mean a lot to someone going through difficult times (14:26): “It’s important for people to know that [you’re there for them], even though they may not need you at the time. You give someone a gift of presence, just being around them, knowing that someone’s there to support them.” –@lanalyzer314 Breaking the model minority myth (18:06): “With the model minority myth, a lot of us have just been taught to embrace that culture of silence, of not rocking the boat or causing any conflict. I think one thing that I’ve come to terms with is that it is okay to speak up. Obviously, to do it in a respectful way, to be mindful of a different perspective, but to not be afraid to speak up when you notice something that bothers you, when you notice underrepresentation of a certain culture, and to embrace that. Being able to do that actually really empowers you as a person and also builds community as you bring more light to different issues that people might not be considering.” –@jenntothechen Think of the impact of your actions, not just your intentions (21:13): “Your intention might not always be to hurt or harm someone or to make fun of someone, but the impact is still there. Being able to understand the impact that our words and actions have on others is important [as well as] being able to acknowledge the impact that it might have on somebody.” –@jenntothechen Recognizing the emotion labor that we carry (28:18): “The [definition of emotional labor that] I’ve adopted is the labor [that’s] not on your job description. You get hired to be a community manager or accountant or whatever you are, and then you end up taking care of the community around you, your colleagues, making sure they’re okay, [and] volunteering at affinity group events.” –@pheebkat Prioritizing ourselves matters just as much as prioritizing our communities (32:16): “I struggle with where I want to take on more and do more and constantly think about what my community members need, but I know that if I don’t take care of myself first, I’m not going to be able to do that.” –@lanalyzer314 To build a safe community, start small (44:58): “When you’re building online communities, sometimes it’s harder to get to the heart of others. You’re building a community at scale, you’re trying to make sure that things can work for many, but in terms of making sure people feel safe – feel heard – some of that work does need to be one-to-one or with a small group.” –@pheebkat About Our Guests Jenn Hudnet is a community manager at Salesforce. Jenn has joined us on Community Signal twice in the past, once in 2018 and once in 2017. She has previously held roles at Lithium Technologies, Google, Procore Technologies, and Intuit. Lana Lee is a senior community manager and strategist at Zuora. She graduated from UC Berkeley in civil engineering and then went to USC, where she got a music degree in oboe performance and Masters in civil engineering. After 15 years as a civil and structural engineer and a career as a web developer, Lana transitioned to community management. Lana was also our guest for the most listened to episode of Community Signal in 2018. Visit her blog, Tales of a Community Manager or her Netflixionados, Primers and Hulu-ites meetup group for more from Lana. Phoebe Venkat is a director of community for TripActions. She has more than 10 years of experience in community strategy and building. Her expertise also includes communications, marketing, leadership, and operations in several industries. Phoebe’s greatest inspiration is her mother, Hanna, who taught her the value of connection and belonging. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community The long history of racism against Asian Americans in the U.S., via PBS News Hour The Subtle Asian Traits group What Is the Model Minority Myth?, via Learning for Justice The Complex History—and Ongoing Realities—of the “Model Minority” Stereotype, via Goop Asian Americans: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver LinkedIn to pay its ERG leaders, via Axios How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 6 Charts That Dismantle The Trope Of Asian Americans As A Model Minority, via NPR Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population, via Pew Research Center Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
32 minutes | Jun 14, 2021
Helping Online Community Members Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis
Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 support via text message to anyone facing a mental health crisis. Some organizations partner with Crisis Text Line to develop co-branded text lines for their community, but starting today, you can make Crisis Text Line part of your policy and response strategy if anyone in your community or on your team shares or shows signs that they’re experiencing a mental health crisis. The other part of your response strategy leverages a skill that you likely practice everyday –– empathy. Becka Ross, the chief program officer at Crisis Text Line, reminds us that “anybody can be empathetic. When somebody is expressing or showing signs of mental illness, it’s not the expectation that somebody steps up into a role of a psychotherapist or a doctor or any other mental health professional, but all humans can be empathetic to one another.” Crisis Text Line is powered by a team of 39,000 volunteers. Their community, training, and volunteer opportunities call on people from all walks of life to work together to help those facing mental health dilemmas. In our discussion with Becka, you’ll learn not only how the team supports one another through community, but also how you can do the same for your own community members and the people you care about. Becka and Patrick discuss: How Crisis Text Line partners with organizations and offers itself as a resource to anyone in need Forming a mental health crisis policy for your community Using machine learning to respond quickest to those most at risk Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes An example of how Crisis Text Line partners with other organizations (03:12): “The state of Ohio’s mental health and addiction services [have] a keyword that they share with their residents [who text it] to our crisis line, linked with our trained crisis counselors, who support the residents in crisis. We provide the state of Ohio with anonymized and aggregated trends about how their constituents are using our service, which, in turn, can help them to create better policies, more services, and support in specific areas.” –Becka Ross Establish a mental health crisis policy to support your team and community (08:29): “It’s a great idea to have a [mental health crisis] policy in place before you need it so that you can have something to fall back on. It can be alarming or even scary to hear somebody else say they want to hurt themselves or somebody else. Having a policy that’s written before you’re in that situation can be helpful in ensuring that you can offer support in a meaningful way.” –Becka Ross Reacting with empathy makes a difference (09:30): “Anybody can be empathetic. When somebody is expressing or showing signs of mental illness, it’s not the expectation that somebody steps up into a role of a psychotherapist or a doctor or any other mental health professional, but all humans can be empathetic to one another.” –Becka Ross Reacting with empathy makes a difference (09:30): “One of the bravest things you could do as a human is reach out to somebody who you feel like is struggling and just ask if they’re okay.” –Becka Ross How Crisis Text Line reaches those at the most risk within 24 seconds (19:30): “We have a machine learning algorithm that triages our incoming conversations based on risk. We are able to respond to the highest-need texters the quickest. On average, [we get to them] within 24 seconds.” –Becka Ross Boundaries on the Crisis Text Line team and how the team members support one another (20:50): “We’re not therapists. We’re not doing clinical long-term work. We’re short-term, helping somebody get to a calm state, and then offering resources. Our supervisors are there for … in-the-moment support if it’s needed. If things escalate [or] if we hear about abuse or any other high-risk situation, then our staff intervene and really support volunteers so they’re not alone.” –Becka Ross About Becka Ross Becka Ross is a licensed clinical social worker with over 15 years experience in mental health, working in direct practice as a psychotherapist, managing a residential program for young men transitioning to adulthood, providing teletherapy in a medical setting and currently the chief program officer at Crisis Text Line; free, 24/7 crisis support through a text based service. Becka is a passionate advocate for access to quality mental health and suicide prevention. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Becka Ross on LinkedIn Crisis Text Line The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Crisis Text Line partnership LivingWorks Start Suicide Prevention training The Jason Foundation Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
39 minutes | May 31, 2021
Whistleblower: Facebook is Allowing Dictators to Mislead Their Citizens
Last month, Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook, went public as a whistleblower drawing attention to how the company delayed action against or outright ignored manipulation of it’s platform by autocratic leaders and global governments to the detriment of the people of those countries. All work, including community management, requires trade-offs, areas of focus, and prioritization. Our teams and resources allow us to increase our areas of focus and more consistently foster the interactions that our communities exist for. But for an organization with the staff and resources of Facebook, you’d expect the trade-offs to be few and far between, and the areas of focus to be vast – covering the areas of the platform prone to abuse just as much as areas that foster healthy interactions. But for Facebook, Sophie describes how, at least internally, those lines between healthy interactions and “inauthentic interactions” surfaced potential conflicts of interest, slowness to take action, and a tendency to focus on some countries more than others. When we’re prioritizing what to work on or how to foster our communities, we may reference company values or internal OKRs. But for community professionals, there’s also the question of how does this preserve the safety of the community and those in it? How is Facebook scaling to protect the political safety of its members? Or perhaps a better question is, does it even think it has the responsibility to do so? As Sophie says, “it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, Facebook is a company. Its goal is to make money. It’s not focused on saving the world or fixing the product. I think it’s important to be cynically realistic about the matter.” Sophie and Patrick discuss: Manipulation so brazen that the government actors didn’t even bother to hide it The real-world implications that “inauthentic behavior” on Facebook has had for Azerbaijan, Honduras, India, and other countries How Facebook differentiates and actions inauthentic profiles and pages Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes The unbelievable size of the Azerbaijan government’s fake comment operation (13:33): “I’m going to give you a number that was very shocking. This Azerbaijan [Facebook manipulation] network, it comprised 3% of all comments by [Facebook Pages] on other pages through the entire world. … Azerbaijan is, of course, a tiny country. Somewhere at Facebook, I’m sure there was a team whose [goal] was to make page activity go up, and they were congratulating themselves on the comment numbers.” –@szhang_ds Repetitive content can be totally normal (16:41): “It can be suspicious if everyone is saying the same thing at the same time, but there can also be completely legitimate reasons. … For instance, … Facebook [once] blocked [people saying] ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ Because, ‘Oh my God, everyone’s saying ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ there has to be something weird going on.’ … At a company the size of Facebook, most enforcement is automated.” –@szhang_ds Facebook isn’t altruistic in nature (20:15): “It’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, Facebook is a company. Its goal is to make money. It’s not focused on saving the world or fixing the product.” –@szhang_ds Facebook’s actions are driven by outside pressure (21:04): “Most of Facebook’s investigations on coordinated, inauthentic behavior come in response to outside reports. What I mean by that is NGOs doing investigations, news organizations giving reports, opposition groups complaining, etc. When there is an outside figure that’s feeding this to Facebook, that’s someone outside the company who can put pressure on Facebook, who can say, ‘If you’re not going to do anything about this, we’re going to the New York Times and tell them you don’t care about our country. What do you think about that?’ Then suddenly, Facebook will decide to get their act together.” –@szhang_ds How Facebook ignored a network of accounts tied a member of parliament (25:16): “In India, when I found a network of fake accounts that were supporting a political figure, we had gotten sign off to take it down, but suddenly, we realized the account was directly tied to and likely run by that political figure. This was a member of the Indian Parliament; he or someone close to him was happily running several dozen fake accounts to support himself. After that, suddenly everything stopped because I asked repeatedly for a decision, even if they said, ‘No.’ … The result was always silence. … “When this keeps going on, when you’re already in a conversation with them and you’re talking about A and they ignore you when you bring up B, then it’s very clear that something is going on. They still have plausible deniability that maybe everyone just didn’t hear. I was very upset about this case. To me, it made no sense that the politician [being] tied to a network of fake accounts was reason to stop. It was more reason to take action. If he complained, what was he going to do? Complain to the press, ‘Hey, Facebook took down my fake accounts?'” –@szhang_ds Facebook’s half-hearted efforts in Azerbaijan and Honduras (28:47): “In Honduras and Azerbaijan [after Facebook took action against manipulation], they came back immediately and did it again, and Facebook didn’t stop them. It’s still going down in Azerbaijan. The analogy I’m going to use is that, suppose the punishment for robbing a bank is that you have your bank robbery tools confiscated, and there’s a press release, ‘This person robbed the bank, they shouldn’t do it.’ Someone robs a bank, because the tool was confiscated, they use the money to buy more bank robbery tools and rob the bank again. This seems like an absurd example, but it’s what’s going on at Facebook.” –@szhang_ds Autocratic leaders don’t care about Facebook’s press releases (29:20): “The idea of publicizing [abuse of Facebook through press releases] is to embarrass people. The president of Honduras sent soldiers into the streets to shoot civilian protesters in 2019, after the police went on strike and refused. Basically, his brother was sentenced to jail by American courts for helping his brother smuggle drugs and take bribes from El Chapo. This is a man who’s incapable of embarrassment. In Azerbaijan, in 2013, they accidentally released election results the day before the actual election, true story, which was shocking. Compared to that, what’s [a press release] going to do to them?” –@szhang_ds Facebook’s statements skirt around the actual issue (37:16): “Suppose your spouse asks you, ‘Did you do the dishes last night?’ You respond by saying, ‘I always prioritize doing the dishes. I work hard on doing the dishes every time so that we can have clean dishes. Food left on dishes is disgusting.’ That might all be true but you did not actually answer the question, which is, ‘Did you do the dishes last night?’ That’s the typical response that Facebook gives, and if you look at the [Guardian] article, that’s essentially what they’re doing. Because they’re not denying what I’m saying. They can’t deny what I’m saying because they know I’m telling the truth.” –@szhang_ds Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Sophie Zhang on Twitter How Facebook let fake engagement distort global politics: a whistleblower’s account (via The Guardian) “I Have Blood on My Hands”: A Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation (via Buzzfeed) Facebook planned to remove fake accounts in India – until it realized a BJP politician was involved (via The Guardian) Sophie’s Reddit AMA Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
34 minutes | May 17, 2021
Why It’s Harmful to Label Community and Community Pros as Underdogs
If you were designing a curriculum to teach undergrads about community management, what would you cover? Georgina Donahue’s approach in designing such a curriculum for a course at the University of Massachusetts was grounded not only in her experience as a community professional but also in her understanding that as a professor, she was instructing a community of students getting ready to enter the workforce. “Think about the experience of … an undergraduate right now. … How do you really use that course to make your students ready for the workforce and appealing to a hiring manager?” Similar to designing a curriculum, think of the different strengths that your colleagues bring to your community team and efforts. What are the career trajectories that speak to their strengths, interests, and your community’s needs? Patrick and Georgina discuss two potential roles, community data analyst and community platform architect, that we may start to see more as community teams scale. While community professionals are often tasked with wearing many hats (and can excel while doing so), as our profession matures, the opportunities ahead will offer continued growth, potential for specialization, and more focused roles to serve our communities and community teams. Georgina and Patrick discuss: The curriculum of Georgina’s community management course at UMass Lowell Community paths outside of management for community pros Why you get lifetime access to the Pragmatic Alumni Community after taking a course at Pragmatic Institute Why you’re doing yourself a disservice if you label community as an underdog Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Corrections During the show, at the 5:35 mark, Patrick asks a question predicated on the Pragmatic Institute moving from charging an annual fee to charging a one-time fee. After release, Georgina clarified that the fee was no longer being charged at the time of recording. Membership in the community is simply bundled with courses. Big Quotes Designing a community management curriculum for undergrads (01:18): “Think about the experience of what it’s like to be an undergraduate right now. Think about being a senior in college. … How do you help them compete against the oxymoron of this is your first job, it’s entry-level, but we also expect you to have X number of years of experience? How do you use that course to make your students ready for the workforce and appealing to a hiring manager?” –Georgina Donahue The importance of community during the pandemic (06:50): “We made the decision [to drop our membership fee, and bundle community with the cost of our courses because] not only were people more in need of a space to be with their cohort, their fellow alumni, more than ever, but this was not the time to charge people for it. [The pandemic] was the time to really have their back, create a lifetime relationship, and make sure that we were creating the largest access possible and establishing a culture of trust, support, and dynamic lifetime learning.” –Georgina Donahue Where do community underdog narratives come from? (14:31): “I do think narratives [about community being the underdog] sometimes come from people who want to profit from us as community pros. Some resources that sell services to us have a vested interest in being holders of the answers.” –@patrickokeefe Don’t sell yourself short by telling everyone that you’re an “underdog” (18:09): “If you’ve got the opportunity to be the expert voice on community in an organization [where] they don’t really know that much about it, and you’re the one that gets to pave that new path, why would you poison your own well by telling a single soul that community’s an underdog? Or that community is often misunderstood or undervalued? Tell your own self-fulfilling prophecy and really, really lean hard on the strategic value at a leadership level.” –Georgina Donahue The person leading the community team doesn’t need to be the one responsible for community tech (26:24): “Frankly, I don’t want the person that is leading my community team to be the same person that is like, ‘I just completely overhauled and structured our community platform.’ Those are two different spaces, and if we don’t find a way to support the hands-on individual contributor expertise, we’re really going to lose out because we’re going to disincentivize anyone from developing that deep knowledge.” –Georgina Donahue What could a community business analyst do? (28:33): “I see a community business analyst as somebody that would be able to look at a bird’s-eye view [of the community] and be able to prioritize and say, what is serving us today? What could we remove off the [team’s] plate? What is the biggest add?” –Georgina Donahue About Georgina Donahue Georgina Donahue is a strategic community leader with a knack for using community to amplify organizational objectives, an aptitude for internal evangelism, and a passion for deep community member engagement. She currently runs the Pragmatic Alumni Community a community of practice for product managers at Pragmatic Institute and spends a lot of time thinking about how businesses can deliver human authenticity to their customers online. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Georgina Donahue on LinkedIn Pragmatic Institute The Pragmatic Alumni Community UserOnboard Samuel Hulick on Community Signal Samuel’s Super Mario graphic Chris Brogan on Community Signal Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
44 minutes | May 3, 2021
Lessons from Community Memory, the First Publicly Available Social Media System
Lee Felsenstein’s work in tech and social organizing led to the creation of the Community Memory project, the first publicly available social media system and public computerized bulletin board system. Mr. Felsenstein was also a founding member of the Homebrew Computer Club, and he helped develop the personal computer. So, what was the first publicly accessible computerized bulletin board like? Mr. Felsenstein was less concerned with metrics around volume and recalls more specifically the diversity of interactions that happened through Community Memory. “We found somebody who did some typewriter graphics on it, [using] the teletype to laboriously draw a picture of a sailboat. That was not anticipated. We found all manner of people asking questions and giving answers to questions.” (Go to 7:07 in the discussion to hear more.) Mr. Felsentein also describes in great detail how he helped onboard people to Community Memory. Psychedelic posters, a cardboard box covering, and a person that stood near the terminal at all times who served as a promoter, tech support, and a bodyguard all helped people walking by Community Memory in its first home, a record store, use a virtual bulletin board for the first time. There are many takeaways from this episode of Community Signal, but let’s start with one –– Community Memory’s approach to onboarding and tech education helped many take their first steps with computers and with virtual message boards. How can we carry this example forward, when for a lot of us, access to the internet comes by way of our mobile devises. Mr. Felsenstein is thinking about this and other community builders should, too. Mr. Felsenstein and Patrick also discuss: The Free Speech Movement of the ’60s The origin and story of Community Memory Lee’s involvement with The WELL Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes How would people react to a computer popping up in their record store in 1973? (5:25): “I thought we would have to [physically] defend the [Community Memory] machine. How dare you bring a computer into our record store? I like to say that we opened the door to cyberspace and determined that it was hospitable territory. Of course, it took more to open the door than just a greeting.” –@lfelsenstein Who were the Community Memory early adopters? (6:27): “We saw a much broader diversity of uses [on Community Memory] than we had anticipated. We thought that there would be three categories: Jobs, cars, and housing. The first thing that happened, as far as I can tell, is that the traffic from the musicians’ paper bulletin board moved over to the machine. … The musicians were making their living from this and so they were very quick to recognize a better technology for what they needed.” –@lfelsenstein The first question seeded on Community Memory (8:05): “We seeded the [Community Memory] system with a question, ‘Where could you get good bagels in the Bay area?’ … We got three answers; two of which were the expected lists of places where you could get bagels. The third was the kicker. That one said, if you call the following phone number and ask for the following name, an ex-bagel maker will teach you how to make bagels. This was validation of the concept of a learning exchange.” –@lfelsenstein The tragedy of the commons (13:53): “Those who talk about the tragedy of the commons are blowing hot air, as far as I’m concerned, because they’re talking about a commons without regulation. Well, that’s a tragedy waiting to happen. Then they say any concept of commons is therefore illegitimate because it will obviously turn into a tragedy and fail. Well, no, the commons in which you do not have regulation will [fail]. We’ve seen a lot of this happen on online applications.” –@lfelsenstein Moderation as a practice (19:32): “Having no gatekeepers [in a digital space] is a bad idea. We pretty much are all seeing what that results in. You have to work out how to involve the consent of the user in the gatekeeping process. You can’t just say, ‘Here is the gatekeeper.'” –@lfelsenstein Facebook and the papyrus scroll method (34:11): “I think Facebook is a regression. I have to keep tearing myself away from it because it’s designed and built to feed the addiction of novelty. We need a lot more than novelty in organizing human society or software advancement.” –@lfelsenstein About Lee Felsenstein Lee Felsenstein has been both a witness and active participant in numerous historically significant moments for social justice and technology. In addition to his work on Community Memory, he was one of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club, designed the first mass-produced portable computer, the Osborne 1, as well as numerous other examples of pioneering computing technology, and advising in the creation of The WELL, one of the most popular examples of an early online community. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Lee Felsenstein’s website Lee Felsenstein’s Patreon Lee Felsenstein on Wikipedia Community Memory Community Memory overviews and promotional material Resource One: Technology for the People newsletter Artists and Hackers: Community Memory and the Computing Counterculture Community Memory: Precedents in Social Media and Movements Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, by Steven Levy The Homebrew Computer Club The WELL Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich Free Speech Movement Archive Gail Ann Williams on Community Signal Howard Rheingold on Community Signal The Virtual Community, by Howard Rheingold Big Sky Telegraph Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
47 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Creator Tools Drive Community Interest and Revenue for Old Call of Duty Games
The Zombies game mode within the popular Call of Duty video game franchise has created a massive community of fans and players who not only play and connect with the developers, but with each other as they try to discover every aspect of each piece of content released for the game. In two versions of the game, they are even able to create their own content that can be played and shared online with other players. This ability to co-create and remix is the focus of this episode, as it leads to the game being more valuable to all parties, from the game publisher that owns the franchise to the player who plays alone. But you don’t need to be a fan of Call of Duty: Zombies or even video games in general to take community learnings from this conversation. MrRoflWaffles is a YouTuber and streamer that has grown his channel to over 1.7 million subscribers and 400 million views. His audience comes to his channel to partake in all things Call of Duty: Zombies –– whether it’s the latest news from Activision or deep dives on Easter eggs. In talking with Patrick, MrRoflWaffles explains how mod tools, which allow you to create new content for the game, and Easter eggs keep Zombies fresh, interesting, and challenging to both expert players and folks that are new to the game. He also shares his “hungry player theory” –– a theory that even as game studios release more content for their games, players are always hungry for more. And while it’s not possible for game studios to constantly release new content, mod tools put the power of game creation directly in the hands of the community. What tools and tailored experiences can you offer to your community members? MrRoflWaffles and Patrick discuss: Extending the play life of your game and your community by giving your members tools to create The importance of communicating through game dev challenges How mod tools can alleviate pressure from game studios and developers Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes How mod tools have created an endless Zombies experience (10:52): “I’m very close with a number of developers that have made [Zombies] maps or contributed to making maps over the years. Some of the things they have been able to create are so unbelievably unique. It means that a player today can think they know the bounds of what’s possible in Zombies and then they can dip into the customs community a bit and their minds will be totally blown because it doesn’t even feel like [Call of Duty] anymore.” –@MrRoflWaffles A game with custom content never gets stale (16:33): “As a [content] creator, [the mods community] fills a gap in a really powerful way that just makes my life easier because things are more dynamic and more fresh. They don’t get so stale so quickly with [the ability to create] customs.” –@MrRoflWaffles Custom content provides breathing room for game studios and a creative outlet for community members (19:32): “Games take a long time to develop and updates take time to develop. The devs cannot keep pace with the appetite of the people playing the games these days. They just cannot do it. Having an extra pool of [custom content] to dip into at any time is incredible from a creator perspective and from a fan perspective, too.” –@MrRoflWaffles Custom maps provides an experience for every level of Zombie player (26:17): “Treyarch is making [the official Call of Duty: Zombies] maps for everyone. Whereas the custom map maker, they can decide [to] target the top 1% of players, the most hardcore Easter egg experience possible, and then deliver, [which means] that community is spoken to and has the experience they want. Or, they could make them with no Easter eggs if they see fit. Then the more casual fans can jump in as well.” –@MrRoflWaffles “Hungry player theory” and gamers’ needs for more content (30:13): “[Explaining the hungry player theory]: I think people just get hungrier and hungrier and each new map satisfies them less and less and less. Even though in the exact moment of its release, it’s great, you end up with something that then just makes people want more and more and more and more and it spirals out of control a little bit.” –@MrRoflWaffles Open communication is imperative for any community (36:11): “[As a game developer], making sure that you stay involved in the conversation and bring the community with you as you fix [bugs and problems], and you’re honest about things when they don’t go so well is, in my opinion, a really big asset for any team that is trying to make a game or build any kind of community with any kind of product.” –@MrRoflWaffles About MrRoflWaffles MrRoflWaffles, Milo, is a YouTuber and streamer based out of London, UK. He started his current YouTube channel in 2009, while in secondary school, and today has over 1.7 million subscribers and over 400 million lifetime views. MrRoflWaffles is very interested in the wider workings of the creator economy, game development, digital culture, and the intersection of all of the above. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community MrRoflWaffles on Twitter MrRoflWaffles on YouTube MrRoflWaffles YouTube playlist explaining the Zombies storyline Treyarch, the creators of the Zombies game mode NoahJ456 on YouTube This Zombies Mode Was Designed to Fail… Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
34 minutes | Apr 5, 2021
Building a Financially Self-Sustaining Community of Muslamic Makers
In addition to practicing community management as a profession, many of the listeners, guests, and even members of the team behind Community Signal, manage communities part-time. These might be communities that align with our personal passions or hobbies or communities that exist specifically to help ourselves and others grow. That is exactly the mission of Muslamic Makers. Co-founded by Arfah Farooq, who joins us for this episode, Muslamic Makers is a community of Muslim changemakers who work in the tech industry. This April marks the fifth birthday of Muslamic Makers and Arfah discusses how the community has grown during that time and how she sees it growing into the future. Muslamic Makers takes pride in offering thoughtful programming that is largely free to its community, and Arfah shares how she and her team are thoughtfully working to keep it that way. Tech companies want access to diverse communities when it comes to hiring and in exchange for sponsorship opportunities, the Muslamic Makers community offers them just that. Arfah also discusses the importance of documenting the processes that keep the community running, so that the community can continue running, whether she’s managing the day-to-day or not. It’s always refreshing to hear that the practices that keep our “professional” communities healthy and well-managed are the same practices that we should try applying to our own personal communities, too. Arfah and Patrick also discuss: Keeping a community independent, self-sustaining, and affordable to its members Adapting and enforcing your community’s Code of Conduct as you grow How the pandemic has helped the Muslamic Makers community grow beyond its roots in London This episode is the first that we’ve released since the devastating shooting that left eight people in Atlanta dead, including six Asian women. Their names were Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, and Xiaojie Tan. The other two people who were killed were Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels. One man, Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, was seriously injured. As a team, we’ve reflected on how our work in communities matters when it comes to stopping hate. As Patrick says in this episode, “when we educate ourselves about what anti-Asian hatred looks like and we take action against it, we are part of the solution.” Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Growing Muslamic Makers into a self-sustaining community: “Where I think self-sustainability [for Muslamic Makers] comes from is sponsorships with tech companies because tech companies want access to diverse talent. They want to advertise to a diverse pool.” –@Arf_22 Our communities are bigger than our individual selves: “[When asking for money to sustain a community], speak from the heart, and let people know your intentions are right and you are just thinking about this community existing beyond yourself. [Muslamic Makers] is part of my legacy, but at the same time, especially in Islam as well, it’s the whole thing of, if I die tomorrow, this thing is going to carry on. It’s going to keep bringing goodness in the world.” –@Arf_22 How the pandemic helped the Muslamic Makers community grow beyond London: “Because we the founders were in London … [Muslamic Makers was] very London-centric. … The beauty of actually being forced online [because of the pandemic], in a sense, has meant that all our events are online, which has meant that we’ve had people dialing in from the other side of the world. That global community has definitely grown a lot.” –@Arf_22 About Arfah Farooq Arfah Farooq is a lifelong community builder, from shaping the regeneration of East London after the 2012 Olympics to building resilience in young people as a youth trustee for a charity. She accidentally co-founded a startup called Discoverables after an initial Design Council grant in 2012. This catapulted her into technology, which led her to co-found Muslamic Makers, a community for Muslims who upscale and pioneer tech in 2016. Arfah is a 2017 fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and has been awarded a prestigious fellowship exploring Muslim women in technology in the USA, UAE, and Pakistan, where she vlogged her travels and brought back her expertise to help businesses. For her day job, Arfah works in government where she managed an internal community of 1,500-plus product and delivery managers across the UK government and now leads the No.10 Innovation Fellowship program. She is also an Angel investor in startups as part of the Aida Ventures Angels program to invest in underrepresented talent. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Arfah Farooq’s website Arfah on Twitter Discoverables Muslamic Makers No.10 Innovation Fellowship program Aida Ventures Angels program Celebrating five years of Muslamic Makers Creative Mornings Muslamic Makers 2016-2021 Impact Report Faisa Mohamed, co-founder of Somalis in Tech, joined us on Community Signal Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
42 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Holding Communities for Community Professionals to a Higher Standard
The field of community management is buzzing. We have more tools available to us than ever before and an abundance of communities and resources to connect us with fellow professionals who know our work and want to share knowledge. But what goes into creating inclusive, diverse, and truly open and welcoming spaces for community professionals? Who is given a platform to share knowledge? In this conversation with Faisa Mohamed, co-founder of Somalis in Tech, we broach this topic and how Faisa and her team approached launching Somali Women in Tech. On paper, the approach may sound simple –– Faisa made sure that that the Somalis in Tech team was onboard with the mission and purpose of Somali Women in Tech. “If you ask the other team members what Somali Women in Tech is, including the male members who are not in this group, they’re going to know exactly what it is and can tell you exactly what it is because they are fully aware of it.” (Head to 25:06 to pick up at this part of the conversation.) But in practice, we’ve seen that’s not a priority for all communities. In the case of Somali Women in Tech, Faisa provides an example of how building community with diversity, equity, and inclusion as important values from day one leads to more successful communities, both from an internal and external perspective. So –– how are you creating space and opportunity for others in the community industry? To what standards do you hold the communities that you build and that you’re part of? We’re always interested in hearing from you, so if there’s something you’ve tried or learned from recently, let us know. Faisa and Patrick also discuss: Reading between the lines of community job descriptions Gatekeeping in the community management industry Being “intentional” in inclusion efforts Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes How inclusive and open are communities for community pros? (14:36): “With each [community professional] group and clique, you’re going to hear more buzzwords, and you’re going to hear more excluding language. People are going to plug into resources and share resources more privately as you become more within communities. [But that’s] just not how I came to be in this profession. I came into this profession through exposure to communities, people wanting to help you and that natural curiosity.” –@faisatweets When your story isn’t told (22:48): “As a woman of many intersections, being a Black Muslim, child of immigrants, eldest daughter … navigating communities with these intersections, you often see the gaps of which your experience has not been acknowledged or thought about. Actually, this has been something I’ve faced mostly in women communities. Communities with the focus for women have often been one type of narrative. I feel, too many times, my story has not been told.” –@faisatweets Getting internal stakeholders on the same page about building diverse communities (25:06): “I often find projects with an aim of inclusivity or diversity are personal or side projects that don’t get a lot of visibility. I can’t be the only one championing this. It has to be the entire team. If you ask the other team members, what Somali Women in Tech is, including the male members who are not in this group, they’re going to know exactly what it is and can tell you exactly what it is because they are fully aware of it.” –@faisatweets Community is not a cure-all (39:40): “During the Black Lives Matter protests … I’m really paraphrasing here but [a prominent white man in the community industry] effectively said community is going to be the solution to discrimination such as racism. I actually just responded to him and said, ‘It’s also the thing that’s currently perpetuating it.’ It’s part of the problem, because community [is] effectively groups. The most extreme example is the KKK meets up every week. That’s a community. There are absolutely extreme right-wing versions of communities that exist. Just because we don’t acknowledge them or may not see them in our everyday lives, they are still communities. We have to understand the power that community has –– good or bad.” –@faisatweets About Faisa Mohamed Faisa Mohamed (she/her) is a community consultant, builder, nurturer, and manager with an interest in product. Faisa previously worked at Bumble and Peanut and is now a contractor at Facebook working on their developer community program, Developer Circles. Faisa is also the co-founder of Somalis in Tech, a community organization increasing the visibility and representation of Somali talent in the tech industry. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Faisa Mohamed on LinkedIn Faisa on Twitter Somalis in Tech Facebook Developer Circles Marjorie Anderson of Community by Association Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
44 minutes | Feb 22, 2021
Facebook’s Australian News Ban Will Lead to Even More Misinformation
What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t share any news articles on Facebook? How would that impact the communities that you manage or the way you share information with family and friends? What if this ban included information provided by emergency services agencies for things like natural disasters, wildfires, and domestic violence? This situation is not a hypothetical one for Australian users of Facebook. Just last week, after Facebook failed to make an agreement to pay Australian news organizations for linking to their content, the company issued a ban that prevents sharing Australian or international news content on the platform. In this episode, Patrick talks to Dr. Jennifer Beckett, a lecturer in media and communications at the University of Melbourne, about the immediate ramifications that this has had and what it might mean for communities on Facebook moving forward. Dr. Beckett’s work also has a focus in the mental health of digital workers, given the prevalence of moderation-related work, no matter what the job title. As our field expands, Dr. Beckett points to the need for visibility and protection for the people who do this work. Dr. Beckett and Patrick discuss: The well-being of content moderators and what some organizations are doing to protect their well-being The legal environment for community builders in Australia The need for better communication about the “toxicity” of communities Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes Facebook has issued a broad ban of news and essential information for its Australian users (4:53): “Facebook has used a really broad definition of what news is. They’ve blocked our Bureau of Meteorology, several emergency services, [and] Queensland Fire & Safety. … That’s problematic because there’s actually floods happening in Queensland at the moment. They’re using the platform to get really vital and immediate emergency information out. The domestic violence government support pages, they’ve all gone down. It’s really, really problematic.” –@JenniferBeckett How Facebook’s ban of news in Australia may encourage misinformation and disinformation (6:42): “[This ban is] going to allow for a lot of non-news organizations to spread a lot of disinformation and misinformation because there’ll be nothing to curb that misinformation or disinformation in a community. If I’m running a community and somebody starts spouting QAnon conspiracy theories in my group, I’ve actually got no ability to now post fact-based, fact-checked news articles that debunk those conspiracy theories.” –@JenniferBeckett Healthy communities can still be toxic to others (11:38): “The thing that makes [groups like the Proud Boys] so dangerous is, internally, they’re super healthy. They’re not toxic to their own members. They’re toxic to everyone else.” –@JenniferBeckett Moderation isn’t about perfection (24:23): “Moderation is an effort that requires a lot of care, thought, and time. Even when you do your best, you’re not perfection.” –@patrickokeefe When your job responsibilities undermine your personal identity (42:05): “Have you ever had to moderate content [or leave up content] that goes against your sense of self-identity and safety? I’m thinking about people of color and First Nations people, anybody in a minority group who’s doing this job, who suddenly has to remain professional while people are actually questioning their right to exist in many cases. Living in this constant state of cognitive dissonance can actually have physical ramifications, as well.” –@JenniferBeckett About Dr. Jennifer Beckett Dr. Jennifer Beckett is a lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She researches online governance and the mental health of digital workers and teaches a Masters level subject in community management. Before heading back to academia, she worked as an online and social media producer for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Dr. Jennifer Beckett on Twitter Dr. Beckett’s University of Melbourne profile The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Facebook will block Australian users and publishers from sharing news links in response to new bill (via The Verge) The Betoota Advocate, a satirical site that was blocked as part of Facebook’s ban on news Venessa Paech on Community Signal Australian Community Managers Community Signal Episode About Section 230 A Community Management Perspective on the Violentacrez/Reddit Troll Story, an article about Reddit’s past, by Patrick Australia’s Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act Sarah Roberts, UCLA Arlie Russell Hochschild Quiip launches industry-first resilience training in response to overwork and burnout Dr. Beckett acknowledges that her research is done on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
33 minutes | Feb 8, 2021
Traumatic Weather Events and Climate Change Denial at Weather Underground
What are the topics of discussion that you would expect to come across in a weather community? Storms, climate change, and forecast accuracy are part of the conversation. As a community strategist at Weather Underground, Michelle Schlachta also encountered stories of people that experienced traumatic weather-related events and sought the community out for education and healing. Those are connections and healing that you can’t build through Google results or a weather forecast app. Patrick and Michelle discuss how Weather Underground provided a platform for weather experts through its blogging community and how new members with questions and less expertise about weather were welcomed into the community. In addition to sharing her experiences at Weather Underground, Splunk, and YouTube –– Michelle discusses something that a lot of us can probably relate to right now –– the isolation of working from home during the pandemic. There are no quick solutions for that but she does offer a reminder that “we’re all going through it together.” If you’d like to share how you’re coping with the isolation of the pandemic, please leave us a comment or write to us. Michelle and Patrick discuss: How veteran members help enforce community guidelines and conversation norms Communicating change to our communities Sensitivity around dramatic weather events that can lead to the loss of life Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community. Big Quotes The Weather Underground community offers an opportunity to heal through education (8:45): “If you’ve had a traumatic weather-based event happen in your life, maybe learning as much as you possibly can about weather or that particular storm that you witnessed and experienced, it might make you feel like you have more of a sense of control over it and over healing from that traumatic event.” –Michelle Schlachta Community results over Google results (16:21): “New users [joined Weather Underground] because they wanted to learn from experts. They wanted to learn information they couldn’t really learn by Googling and searching on the internet. They wanted to have and observe conversation about weather so that they can learn, too, and who better are you going to learn from but an expert? We had all the top weather expert conversationalists on our site.” –Michelle Schlachta Dealing with climate science denial (17:33): “[When it came to climate change denial at Weather Underground], some of the developers and meteorologists came together to figure out how do we set the stage for other people? Therefore, we could point to that information on the company stance so that when people were trolling or we weren’t sure if they were trolling, we could be like, ‘Look, this is what we think climate change is and climate denial. You know what side we’re on. Depending on which side you’re on, you’re either welcome or not.'” –Michelle Schlachta Communicating change to communities (21:54): “Part of my job was helping the community understand that the people [at YouTube], behind building these products they were using, really did care about [them], they did care what they wanted, and they did want to give them what they wanted while still fulfilling business needs. That’s a pretty delicate, difficult balance.” –Michelle Schlachta About Michelle Schlachta Michelle Schlachta is the community content manager for Splunk, and has previously worked in community at IBM, Weather Underground, The Weather Company, and Google, YouTube, and CNET. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Michelle Schlachta on LinkedIn Splunk Weather Underground The YouTube Partner Program How Content ID works on YouTube An Update On Our View Counts Why You Need to Find a Work Crew The Splunk blog Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
34 minutes | Jan 25, 2021
Rewarding the Local Guides That Make Google Maps More Useful
If you have ever used Google to look up a restaurant you wanted to eat at or to research before visiting someplace new to you, you’ve probably depended on information contributed by a Local Guide. Traci Cappiello is the program manager at Google that makes sure those Local Guides feel engaged and empowered to provide helpful information to the world. With 100 million people who have contributed through the Local Guides initiative, Traci and her 12 member team focus on the one-to-many interactions that happen on Local Guides Connect, the dedicated community space for those contributors. That includes creating online and in-person experiences that reward, uplift, and encourage the Local Guides. Traci shares the team’s approach to this work and some of the checks and balances in place to make sure that all of the content shared by Local Guides is trustworthy and accurate. Traci and Patrick discuss: How the Local Guides met the challenge of sharing accessibility information on Google The tools and teammates that support the Local Guide community What’s the difference between a Local Guide and just someone posting reviews on Google? Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsors: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community and Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community. Big Quotes What’s the difference between a Local Guide and someone who writes Google reviews? (8:31): “Anyone can be a [Google] Local Guide. You don’t have to jump through any hoops. You literally just go to g.co/localguides and sign up for it. If you are already a Google Maps contributor, it will say, ‘Hey, do you want to join the Local Guides Program?’ The difference between a Local Guide designation on a review and a non-local guide is simply that this person has taken the step to say, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of this. I want to be a part of something different.'” –@JumpingTraci The biggest obstacle to contributing as a Local Guide (14:50): “People don’t realize they’re violating our policies until they’ve already violated. Oftentimes, there’ll be folks who aren’t really malicious. There’s a small handful of people that can be malicious, at times at least, … but I really think that for the most part it’s just [a] knowledge [gap].” –@JumpingTraci Tailoring content to Google’s community and needs (32:22): “We encourage people to share original content that is tailored for the platform itself. There’s nothing wrong with excerpting. If you’ve already created a guide to 10 top places to go to in New York City; feel free to paste it over. If the crux of your posts or the intention is to just promote yourself, we’re not here for that.” –@JumpingTraci About Traci Cappiello Traci Cappiello joined Google in 2012, working on what is now Local Guides, a program for the passionate Google Maps contributors helping the world to find the places worth discovering. Over the years, Traci has gone from managing hyperlocal activities to managing social channels with over one million followers to now focusing on designing delightful community experiences for her fellow Local Guides. Traci’s current focus is engaging, connecting, and empowering this nearly 100 million strong community. She manages the community forum, Local Guides Connect, as well as leading community support operations and Connect Live, the team’s annual event for top community members. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Sponsor: Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community Traci Cappiello on LinkedIn Traci on Twitter Local Guides Connect Traci’s call to Local Guides to help share accessibility information on Google Meet the Guiding Stars of the Local Guides community Khoros and contractors from Grazitti help power the Local Guides community Connect Live Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
45 minutes | Jan 11, 2021
Why Has Clubhouse Been Plagued by Trust and Safety Issues?
If you were building a community product, how would you start? Who would you choose as your first hire? What efforts would you make to ensure that the product is inclusive, safe, and well-moderated? In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Danielle Maveal to do a deep-dive on audio-first platforms and specifically, Clubhouse. While every platform and community has moderation issues to work through, Clubhouse has made headlines and Twitter rounds for the lax moderation that has brought anti-Semitism, misogyny, and misinformation to the “stage” on the app. In this discussion, Danielle and Patrick discuss how other audio-first platforms have approached trust and safety and what steps they would take to scale the teams, communities, and norms that power them. And while they acknowledge that not every conversation or connection that happens on the platform is bad, they offer a reminder that we can all do something to hold platforms accountable. The members and the content that we allow on our platforms dictate the culture that permeates in our communities. If there’s one thing that Clubhouse proves, it’s that there is still room for platforms that are built with safety and inclusivity in mind from day one. Danielle and Patrick discuss: The current landscape of audio-first communities How they would scale a team and membership base of a community product Why community guidelines, enforcement, and tools matter from day one Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsors: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community and Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community. Big Quotes Community governance influences the culture of our communities (8:05): “I haven’t heard about anyone being removed from [Clubhouse]. I’m sure there have been some, but there’s no transparency. When is someone banned, or when are they muted? What if they are a repeat offender? What happens then? There’s no discussion of that happening publicly so [Clubhouse] feels like a brand new territory for these scammers to go and chat.” –@daniellexo Not all audio-first platforms are terrible (14:55): “[At Clubhouse], I didn’t see a key community or trust and safety hire very early on to set the norms. I’m on two other audio apps with absolutely no problems. [Space and Quilt]. They’re smaller, they’re growing at a smaller rate, but they have key community hires there. The social norms that are being developed are just completely different.” –@daniellexo How do we make people care about trust and safety issues? (17:29): “I’ll have a conversation with someone who is a very reasonable person, and we’ll talk about Clubhouse, and all the issues that have been raised. Then I’ll see them ask for an invite. My mind is blown. We are not learning from lessons of the past. How do we make people care?” –@daniellexo The value that Clubhouse members bring to the stage (24:35): “[Clubhouse] creators who are now put into these moderator and facilitator roles; they’re going to make the founders and investors rich. [Clubhouse] invites are positioned like a gift, but really [users are] creating the experiences that draw in hundreds of listeners, thousands in some cases, and they get absolutely nothing for it.” –@daniellexo Scaling your moderation efforts with your community is a must (34:30): “Being able to shut down a bad thing while it’s happening [on an audio-first platform] is important and if you can’t do that, maybe it’s a clue that you shouldn’t be doing this. … Taking care of a call two days later is not going to be a workable solution to stopping bad things.” –@patrickokeefe Building a community for the long haul, not for short term vitality (38:00): “One thing I would focus on is really keeping the testing pool super small. Trusted people only, no invites, or very few and I would know who’s coming in the door. I wouldn’t be allowing more people in the door until I was ready to be responsive to live reports, so that I can come out very strongly against bad behavior.” –@patrickokeefe About Danielle Maveal Danielle Maveal has 15 years of experience launching, growing, and supporting brand and marketplace communities. She was on the founding team at Etsy and BarkBox and since has worked at Airbnb and Lyft. She’s now moving from building community teams and programs to building community products. Related Links Sponsor: Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Clubhouse Clubhouse on Twitter Danielle Maveal’s website and Substack, Community Feelings Exclusive Social Media App ‘Clubhouse’ Had an Anti-Semitic Meltdown Over Yom Kippur, by Yair Rosenburg Jewish “Control” of the Federal Reserve: A Classic Antisemitic Myth, via ADL “You become hostage to their worldview”: The murky world of moderation on Clubhouse, a playground for the elite, via Vanity Fair Kia Richards, product compliance manager at Square, on Clubhouse’s disinformation problem Taylor Lorenz, journalist at the New York Times, documents Clubhouse’s moderation issues Other audio-first platforms referenced in this show include Airtime, Space, and Quilt Heather Merrick, director of customer support at Airtime, on Community Signal Tracy Chou, CEO at Block Party Wesley Faulkner on Community Signal Ustream Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
39 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
Fostering Inclusivity for Neurodivergent Community Members and Colleagues
There are many different categories of diversity and, as community practitioners, continuously learning about them and questioning our assumptions will only help us build more inclusive communities. In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Wesley Faulkner, a DevRel advocate at Daily, who also advocates for neurodiversity. Wesley and Patrick discuss several ways in which we can build for inclusivity within our products, communities, and teams, all through the lens of specific real-world situations. For example, if we approached writing job descriptions with inclusivity, would terms like “rock star” and “extrovert” still make their way into job descriptions? How can career tracks that account for the different skills and ambitions of the community managers on our teams create more inclusive games, communities, and more? As Wesley says in this conversation, “constraints makes things better. Some people think that if you do accessibility, that you’re restricting the creativity of the medium, but … when you make [things accessible from] the beginning, it actually can make things better for everyone.” Take the example that Wesley shares about sidewalks. When sidewalks were redesigned to include ramps for people that use wheelchairs, this also made it “easier for people who are running and jogging on the sidewalk, people who had strollers, [and] for little kids so they would trip less.” How can designing your community with inclusion in mind aid your community members and colleagues? Patrick and Wesley discuss: Designing for neurodiverse communities Coaching your community members to be positive contributors Managing community managers with different skills and ambitions Our Podcast is Made Possible By… If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsors: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community and Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community. Big Quotes Designing your community with accessibility for neurodivergent members in mind (08:27): “In terms of tools [to accommodate neurodivergent people], one easy trick I learned is that if you can navigate the community just with your keyboard, you’re hitting a good 80% to 90% of … use cases in terms of accessibility.” –@wesley83 Accessible communities make for more inclusive communities (12:16): “Constraints makes things better. Some people think that if you do accessibility, that you’re restricting the creativity of the medium, but constraints actually can make things so much more elegant. When you make [things accessible from] the beginning, it actually can make things better for everyone.” –@wesley83 Make the implicit of your community explicit (21:09): “Is this person helping the community or hurting the community? If they’re hurting the community, can you define what it is that they are doing that hurts the community? [Is it] written into the community guidelines?” –@wesley83 Codifying what it means to be a positive community contributor (24:02): “Moderation is education. You’re telling people how to be the best member they can be in the community. If you’re going to do that, then you have to codify what that is.” –@patrickokeefe About Wesley Faulkner Wesley Faulkner is a developer advocate for Daily, a 1-click video chat API. He’s previously spent time in developer advocacy or community at IBM, Atlassian, and LiveWorld. Wesley is also the co-host of the Community Pulse podcast, and an advocate for neurodiversity. Related Links Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community Sponsor: Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community Wesley Faulkner on Twitter Daily Community Pulse podcast Wesley on his journey through DevRel Neurodiversity as defined by Merriam-Webster Cyberpunk 2077 sequences may cause seizures (via Polygon) Americans with Disabilities Act Cindy Au’s tweets about one stereotype and unfortunate job requirement in the community industry The Other Diversity: Neurodiversity (via Maggie McGary) Wesley recommends Brené Brown and the Different Minds podcast Special thanks to Carrie Melissa Jones and Maggie McGary for their input on this episode Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.
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