Building member confidence to contribute, ideas and strategies


(Ryan) #1

So, I was just in the welcome thread and @HAWK was nice enough to send me to an older thread that touched on the issue I am seeing, but I am hoping that I can get some more input on what I am seeing as well as some ideas that may help build engagement.

My communities background is that we sprung up from another communities failing. We are a game development community, extremely targeted in our niche market, so it is a small community (roughly 135 members, 30 active daily members) in a very small niche. The previous failed community, which for 13 years was the only community in the niche had a toxic reputation, and its community was not terribly engaging.

So, I have two groups of members, those who enjoy the new community and are starting to engage more and more, but about 45% of the members who did move over have expressed a lack of knowing how they should contribute, but a wanting to participate. When asked (through me reaching out in member interviews [great and simple idea]) – the biggest response is that they feel anything that they could offer would not be interesting to anyone else, so they feel stuck at making the attempt.

I have been searching around trying to figure out how to encourage these members to feeling like they can participate rather then feel like they can’t. I am wondering if any of the Experts here would have any pointers?

(Mark Williams) #2

That’s a tough one. I think it probably affects all communities to a certain extent but since you have such a small community, you really need people to come out of their safe space and share. I have three thoughts that I have seen elsewhere and have been considering trying in my community (but have not yet):

  1. Start a conversation on ‘imposter syndrome in the [name of your gaming space]’. This might bring out people to at least admit that they feel that way and allow for encouragement by others.
  2. Create a ‘things I did/learned this week’ thread. I feel like these types of thread are lower barriers to entry. You don’t have to write a treatise on the state of the gaming industry, just the thing you learned.
  3. Do more 1 on 1 coaching. Offer to collaborate or edit work by those that say they don’t have anything to say. Interview them? This is work but may open the flood gates.

Good luck!

(Ryan) #3

Thanks for those wonderful suggestions @mdfw! I will definitely be trying them out. Much like you mentioned, being such a small niche, every member is important so keeping them is important, and I would rather encourage them in any way possible.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

It sounds like you need to build trust and confidence and helping people to feel connected to each other (building a strong 'sense of community) is a good place to start with that. What is the current sentiment like? Are members likely to participate in off-topic discussions or games? That can be a good way to get people comfortable participating without feeling like they have to offer something big.

I struggled with that here for a while. People felt daunted posting because they don’t consider themselves experts. The What are you working on this week? topics have really helped with that. People can participate without having to give advice.

I love Mark’s ideas. They’re really practical. I’ll tag in a few other people to see what ideas they have.

(Nikoletta Harrold) #5

Thanks for the tag @Hawk, while I was reading your dilemma @tgl_forums, these things jumped into mind. Not sure they will work or if you like them, but worth putting on paper:

  • Have an open survey for all members to suggest topics they want to hear about. then use that matrix and let your top 45% contributors pick one to write about.

  • Start with half or third of your 45% maybe and do one on one conversations of what they are the most proud of from their gamer live, something they would want to share or ask other users. and then roll out to the others

  • Maybe introduce the participants that want to contribute to each other and nurture some connections. Let them maybe write in pairs?

  • Can you mine some data of what are the most common questions on your community and find some similarities that can be turned into anecdotal stories, blogs or “highlight of the week style posts”? where you cover one of these 45% people with a long intro and then they can post on said subject what their experience and knowledge is?

Ultimately you are not positioning these people as subject matter experts but as someone who may have succeeded, struggled or simply experienced X, right?

(Ryan) #6


Several do respond occasionally on off-topic discussions, but it is extremely hit or miss and random. I have been slowly working on increasing our off-topic, or forum games lately in hopes to encourage more casual posting in hopes it will help.


Thanks for your input, I love your ideas, and will be implementing with along with the practical ideas that @mdfw mentioned. I have feelers out to try and get a more detailed idea on what topics are interesting them to see where there are similarities that I can use to encourage.

I appreciate all the wonderful advice here! Truly wonderful!

(Cristina Salzillo) #7

I think the feeling of your members is potentially spread in many communities. People seek knowledge in the communities and in many cases they don’t feel that they have enough that could be interesting for the other members.
For this reason, I would shift the target from “What do you have to give” to “What do we have in common”. I would suggest trying some tactics to bring to the surface the basic feelings that led your members to join the community, the sense of belonging to a group or a shared value.
What I usually do is running very simple posts around a shared feeling or value for the group.
And then I put in a sort of hall of fame the nicest contributions that were not made by the super users. I aim to make people feel that anyone is appreciated. I also reach out via message to some of the people and engage with them to push them to post more or work together on something.
I think that in any content plan there should be recurring posts dedicated to the sense of belonging to the community, it strengthens the bonds and makes people feel safe.

(Marcin Hakemer-Fernandez) #8

Hey @tgl_forums,

Some follow up questions: What is the goal of your community? Why did you create the “fork”? :smile:

The tip on creating threads about “imposter syndrome” is a really good one. In my experience there are the most popular threads - and basically evergreen. I like to “resurrect” these threads from time to time, so that the new members are aware of them. Pointing to an article on a similar topic could also do the job.

I think it’s also import to let the members know “why” to participate. Sometimes lurkers only start participating after a year or two when they finally understand the importance.

In the case of a copywriting forum I used to help with, the obvious reason was to start getting used to writing (and becoming an authority) - and the forum facilitated this in a wonderful way (it’s a closed paid “safe” forum).

I asked the first two questions, because I’m looking for a way to communicate the benefits of participation to your members.

So I’d love to know why you’d like the community to grow, and also how the growth would benefit your members. :slight_smile:


(Ryan) #9


I created my community as a response to the older mentioned community going down several times over the past few months due to poorly managed financial reasons. There was a general frustration with this happening repeatedly, so there seemed to be a need. I also have a deep personal connection with the niche, having grown up in the niche since my childhood, so it is very much a passion.

The community’s goal is to focus on virtual or digital pet games. Primarily these are the games that were popular “back in the day”, such as the rise of Neopets in 1999, however there are quite a few smaller and less popular games still being created and released today in the market. We focus on the development and production of the genre of games, supporting the developers and discussing the industry as it is.

(Marcin Hakemer-Fernandez) #10

Got it. What do you feel are the main reasons developers like joining such communities (or your community specifically)?

How do you support developers?

Yeah, more questions :slight_smile:

(Ryan) #11


One reason is much like me they have a passion/interest for it. We have members who cover a range of specialties, from art, programming, to even writing. We also serve as a place to operate a pseudo marketplace where the members buy and sell services from each other.

We support our members through making sure our marketplace is open but monitored, we allow them to notify the larger community should a bad deal happen, or if they had a great experience (more common). Generally as a community we work together to weed out any potential scams or ripping off. Add on more targeted areas (since we do have several different tribes [for lack of a better term]) we have forums dedicated to programming and development topics where questions are asked of a technical manner, a forum for writing/storytelling, and one for the artists to discuss or generally show off their stuff.

I generally try and incorporate more off-topic discussions into the mix to try and keep the different groups from completely sealing themselves off in their silos through self-disclosure and the usual forum engagements topics like Work Association games and such.

I hope that answered the questions. :slight_smile:

(Marcin Hakemer-Fernandez) #12

Yes! This exactly what I was looking for.

One of the things I believe in, is making things “teachable”. From what I understan (in creating games) knowing how to tell stories is extremely important. And even if the game is not telling a story, the player needs to be telling a story to himself while he’s playing the game (and the game needs to accommodate this if it want to be successful).

Programmers are usually loners (p.s. I work with programmers), and a bit disconnected from the reality of mere mortals :wink:

And that’s okay, but engaging less, means understanding the players of their games less - and that in turn means less “playable” games.

I could go deeper into this, but in short:

Engaging in conversation (of course live is best), can make a programmer (game developer) more human :smiley: This text will be if you know what I mean (I don’t mean to insult anyone, I myself am a bit like this).

Being more human allows you to create better games. :slight_smile:

It’s also the fastest way to improve.

Asking “stupid” questions can often give you unexpected ideas and answers. And you’re also benefiting the people who are too afraid to ask - you’re becoming their voice. :slight_smile:

So you might want to actually talk about this, whenever you can (of course without exaggerating).

This could be one of the “teachable” principles of your forum:

“One of the most biggest benefits in having a forum like “this” is that we have a safe place of practicing real communication - and this also benefits our game creation.”

It’s hard for people like me (who work at the computer most of the day) to have a normal conversation sometimes.

My brain is usually in problem solving mode, and when someone comes up to me with “their” problem it’s difficult for me to sometimes focus and pay attention to the person (especially if she’s my wife). :confused:

Reading text or whispering out words while writing them down, doesn’t help my voice get any stronger (it does just the opposite, it sabotages communication) - just another problem I wanted to mention about working remotely on a computer all day.

So, this is a bit chaotic, but hopefully you can use some of these ideas to piece together a thread that would work for your members.

Let me know if you want me to go deeper on any of these points or if you need help with anything.

(Ryan) #13

Definitely, I have already used the concept of no “stupid” questions in our guidelines. And since we are still in early stages, I am still in the process of seeding topics daily, many of these are usually classified as “stupid questions”. :stuck_out_tongue:

One thing that I am getting feedback on is that some members feel like the posts I am posting feel like writing prompts, so I think I have to work on my writing skills and try to write my posts in a way that feels less like a chore to respond to! :open_mouth:

(Marcin Hakemer-Fernandez) #14

This is another great topic, and made me think of another thing. Aspergers syndrome (or Autistic Spectrum Disorder - as they now call it).

I did a short presentation on this to our team not too long ago.

My theory:

A lot of programmers display some sort of non-neurotypical behaviour. Reading up on Aspergers can really help you communicate with your community even if non of them have Aspergers!

You might also learn a lot about yourself (as I did).

I’d suggest at least watching this:

And read this:

If you get any eureka moments just hold off diagnosing anyone you see with Aspergers :wink: - I’ve experienced it getting pretty messy even talking about the probability (or possibility).

I currently use this as my secret little weapon - the behaviour knowledge accumulated by psychologists in the last few years (on Aspergers), has let me really understand a lot of people I couldn’t understand before (even though they don’t actually have Aspergers).

I also realised why people couldn’t understand many of the things I was trying to say or teach.

All of this might really seem off topic, but it actually isn’t :wink:

I hope that helps :smiley: