Hi Sydette, sorry for the late reply! I think there’s lots of opportunity in encouraging users with valuable insights provide their perspective or for people to just ask questions. We have a lot of smart, informed, and even influential readers, but our comments section generally doesn’t reflect that. Maybe if we can make people feel like they’re part of a conversation (vs. shouting into the interwebs)…Interviews/events with panels, which are conversational by nature. Also live events where people can ask questions to reporters, AMA-style. I’m interested in what your ideas are!
Hi Steve…nice to hear from you. I follow things here pretty loosely. One thing that sort of put me off was how anything I said had to get approved before it would show up. I guess that is one way to prevent trolls, but it makes it so it doesn’t feel like a conversation. At least not one that has any natural sort of cadence. Maybe they changed that…I’ll find out when I hit .
And I am pleased to see that my reply showed up right away. Thank you Coral project people.
So now we are in a different USA than we were a month ago and online conversation has a great opportunity to rise up and be a stronger part of the national dialogue. It’s an opportunity because while long-form conversation takes more commitment for it to become worthwhile, in the great challenge we all face now in discerning what is and is not true, we simply have a chance to explain ourselves and cite sources and back up what we are saying better. Provided of course that the software makes it as easy as possible for people to do that.
Good software design and execution does make a big difference, but if you want a group to gel into a self-identified community I think the participants’ social and/or intellectual needs must be fulfilled. because above all else, it takes a lot of time for people to get to know each other to the point that they develop a relationship with any lasting bonds. Facebook trades mostly on existing relationships and the various “silos” “Bubbles” “echo chambers” or just gatherings of friends already existed in some form. FB certainly strengthens it and I like most of you probably have become reacquainted with old friends, share photos, links, rants, etc. with only the occasional disagreement. FB is pretty great for that. But if you want to go outside of it…not so easy.
Anyway I’m sort of rambling here. I guess the core of what I am saying is that communities get built by people who want it bad enough to take the time. Software helps, but only so much.
Glad you’re back, John. I don’t recall there being an approval process / lag. Glad it’s not an issue.
This is a particularly interesting point.
“Good software design and execution does make a big difference, but if you want a group to gel into a self-identified community I think the participants’ social and/or intellectual needs must be fulfilled … Software helps, but only so much.”
“Good software” can actually be at odds with the realities of serving the community. At some orgs, investments in software are made by people who feel “we’ve invested in tools, so we shouldn’t have to invest much more in the resources around them.” They want to set it and forget it.
This happens in the analytics and BI space, e.g., and in MarTech in general. Social and community, though, are even greater challenges because people understand the reports they need and what it takes to run them without good tools.
They know the marketing programs they want to run and their expectations of what success looks like. There are fewer well-codified needs, goals, expectations in the community curation space.
This project is doing a good job at building the tools and the case for having the people required to use those tools and effectively engage with the community. Let’s hope, and let’s help -
Thanks Steve for that - also thanks John. Since you last commented, we changed our approval process so that responses from new(ish) members would appear faster. We’ve seen almost no trolling on here, so we loosened the reins. Glad it helped.
Steve, you’re absolutely right of course. Part of our pitch to publishers is making clear that not only are we not offering “set it and forget it”, but that to do so is to place journalism at further remove from its audience, at a time when we need to move closer, and quickly.
We’re trying to make it easier and more scalable for journalists to engage with members of the community in a way that serves both better - and also so that newsrooms can have some memory of who they’ve engaged with before, and how (unlike on social media.)
There’s a bunch of compelling, mission-drive and commercial reasons why this is the right way to go for news organizations of all sizes. But in order for any and all of that to happen, it needs a broader commitment than just installing the software.
One thing I know about building online community is that once the tone and mores of the group get set, it is just about impossible to change them. So a ‘set it and forget it’ attitude is a formula for failure.
Whoever is managing the thing has got to not only engage with people, help them get comfortable, stay interested, etc - whatever ethos the owners want created has to be conveyed and nurtured at every turn. And there has to be enforcement, even if it doesn’t get used much. If you say no ad hominem comments, then you have to back that up. If you want freewheeling arguments and no holds barred, that’s ok too if that is what you really want. I’m not sure that organizations who put comment spaces after their news articles, or set up other types of world-readable community input thought through carefully enough what it was they hoped to accomplish by doing it. Then when it got out of hand they just ended it.
And yet, there is the law of unintended consequences, so whatever you planned, it won’t go exactly where you want it, unless what you want is to take the journey with the people using your service. When they first started the WELL, they thought it was going to be mainly centered around the Whole Earth Catalogs where people would pretty much do what happens at amazon and places like that with product reviews and tips and such. But in gathering all these people together, it turned out the driving energy was people building relationships of all types. The idea of it gelling into something that called itself a community hadn’t really occurred to them that much. Once Nicholas Negroponte told me, “we (the Media Lab) didn’t anticipate the community aspect.”
This is such music to mine ears, I have to say thank you . The most useful research in communities for me so far has come from parenting , early childhood development, and education. Not because users are infantile but because these fields integrate the possibility of discovery both for the child/student but also for the parent/moderator/facilitator.
Providing space for growth and change is a meta style goal so it doesn’t come up but it is continually a factor in grood comunities
I’m Amanda Stupi and I’m the engagement producer from Forum, the daily talk show out of KQED, the NPR affiliate in San Francisco. Basically, I handle the social media accounts for the show, select listener comments and questions to be read on air and moderate our website comments. Or rather, I try to. Andrew came and spoke at KQED a couple of weeks ago and what he talked about really resonated with me. Reignited my passion for community and engagement and has me wanting to wrangle back control of our comments. Looking forward to learning and sharing with you all.
Welcome Amanda! I’m happy to reignite your passion for community!
What would you say are the biggest problems you face right now around community engagement?
I am so happy your are reignited!! if I may ask what part of the work had dampened your spirits? What would be most helpful to you in the work?
Dear Coral Community
It is a while since I contributed to the forum, but I have some good news to share. We have been awarded funding for the Scholio project ‘Designing online news comments to promote intellectual humility in public discourse’ by the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute / John Templeton Foundation. It was one of 10 project selected from a highly competitive field: http://humilityandconviction.uconn.edu/awards/. Paolo Spada who contributes to this community forum is part of the research team, along with Michael Morrell, an expert in the conceptualization and measurement of empathy.
The main aim of the project is to undertake experimental analysis of different argument visualization platforms to see if they can help ameliorate dysfunctional behaviors with which we are all familiar. Perhaps we might test the new Talk tool created by Coral? Would that be of interest?
A first output that we can offer to the community in a few weeks is a literature review of papers on behaviors in online news comment forums. We will include many of the papers that have been collated by this community.
If you are interested in the project, drop me a line. We are particularly keen on talking to journalists and digital experts working with news media organizations to ensure that our field experiments feed into current developments.
Congratulations Graham! Excited to read the literature review. Thanks for letting us know!
If you want to email me with a summary of what you mean by “visualization platforms” and how you might want to use Talk for your project, I can let you know if it sounds like a good fit. My email: andrewl at mozillafoundation.org
Thanks and well done again to you and Paolo!
Congrats! Please let us know when the first piece comes out!
I’m a little late to the game, but thought I’d stop in and say hi regardless. I’m Kelly and I’m the Community Engagement Editor for a hyperlocal news source in New Jersey (so I’m quite familiar with The Coral Project) and I’ve been reading up on Talk, so I thought I’d finally join the community. I’ve also been known to delve into community management, and I’m always trying to soak up as many community concepts as possible.
I’m a bit of a fan of social media, so you can say hi over at @kschottphoto.
Welcome Kelly! Jersey Shore Hurricane News is a terrific hyperlocal site. Can you tell us what the role is of the community in your reporting?
Hi Andrew! We brand ourselves as news for the people, by the people, so we heavily rely on our local communities for news and information gathering. JSHN is very much built on a contributor culture, so we work directly with our communities in our work. Our contributors regularly share information and news that they see/hear and we can take that and respond and/or share. This also gives us a direct line to see and hear about what our community members (our audience members, in other words) want and need.
That’s fantastic. Can you talk a little more about the tools you use for that? How you changed tools at any point, and if so, why?
JSHN was launched on Facebook and stayed mainly on social media (expanding to Twitter and more recently Instagram) until the website was launched in the last year or so, so we’ve engaged with our contributors through traditional social means (messages, comments, etc.). We’ve also sort of took over an Instagram hashtag early on and we use it like many brands and organizations do, to source photos and communicate with other Instagram users. JSHN has always been visually strong (people love to see and submit photos of the sunrise, sunset, and everything in between), so it was a natural fit. Last I looked, #JSHN had just over 82k posts in it, and, with the exception of a handful, they’re all related to us. More recently, we’ve been working video and live video into our projects. As a growing trend, that’s a medium I’d like (and need) to continue exploring.
That’s so great. Do you keep any record of who your most dedicated contributors are? If so, how?