Community projects

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I'm always on the lookout for interesting ideas or projects to stimulate engagement and/or foster a sense of community. 

Has anyone got any success stories (or otherwise)?

What was the goal of the project? Did it succeed? What would you do differently?

(Rebecca Braglio) #2

The one project that I worked on was creating an ambassador program - I just wasn’t able to continue to draw members together as the community grew. It was becoming a “come to community, post my question, get my answer, never return.” So I hand picked a few users I thought had potential (they weren’t even all super users at that point) and asked them to apply for an ambassador position. While I made a lot of mistakes in the set up of the program, it was a huge success. It more than doubled engagement at one point. People were making friends, giving great testimonials about the value of the community, and they were even meeting up offline.
There’s so much I’d do differently – but the biggest thing I’d change was being too rigid/firm in the ambassador setup. I should have been less demanding/more flexible about what was required of someone in it. They did get a lot of benefits if they agreed, and I did have to make sure we were getting a return. But you have to keep in mind that people have jobs, families, lives. Their ability to participate in the community can ebb and flow. I should have taken that into account.

(Richard Millington) #3

Hey Rebecca,

Would it be possible to share some more of the mistakes you made here? I think we could probably learn a lot from it.

What kind of benefits did you feel work well? What kind of community was it? (so people have context here)

(Alessio Fattorini) #4

I’m planning a “super member” program too, trying to write down benefits (goodies, VIP section of my forum) and requisites (howtos, contents, badges, bug reports, team membership)
I’m wondering who should select the new super members, I’m thinking about a small council of super members already elected who can take a choice basing on requisites or do you suggest a strict selection criteria?

(Richard Millington) #5

Hey @ale_fattorini, can you give some background on your community and goals?

  • Rich

(Alessio Fattorini) #6

My community is pretty young just 5 months and 400 people, built from scratch
But we have 80 posts/day so it’s active and I put a lot of efforts on that. It’s product based, so half of discussions are about support and bugs, and the other about features/chat/community.
It’s really technical because the product is a Linux server distributions so it’s only for tech people but the product is becoming more known and the community at the same.

Do you have any suggestion for a good super member program? As explained above?
People are contributing answering to support questions, writing good howto, working on bugs and translations, speaking about their experience with the product and stuff like these…

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Hey @ale_fattorini – I remember when you were setting up. You’ve come a long way, congratulations!

I’d be interested in hearing more about @rebeccabraglio’s program. In the mean time, take a look at what SitePoint have done with their ambassador program. It might give you some ideas.

I have done something on a smaller scale at UXMastery called Gold Members. It has had mixed success. The people that have joined have become strong foundation members, but it is a small group.

So, what are you working on? Part 1
(Richard Millington) #8

Hi @ale_fattorini, just wondering what are the goals of the super member program? What are you trying to achieve here?

(Alessio Fattorini) #9


  • stimulate engagement and members contributions
  • contributions bring more belonging and foster a sense of community.
  • give acknowledgements and benefits promoting a sort of meritocracy based on contributions
  • lead by example with VIP members showing how an active member should be.

Every member have to create a page (post on community) where gather all contributions of last months: link to howto, translations, bugs, statistics about his profile as likes and posts, link to QA done, show relevant badges, demonstrate his participation to one of the community teams,
Regular Users at Trust Level could help.

Other community members are invited to thumbs up such pages

Then a “jury” or “council” of super existing members decide according to the requirements


  • t-shirt and stickers (not in sale)
  • super member badge
  • access to a private forum section. super member only

Is it clearer?

(Alessio Fattorini) #10

That’s true :slight_smile: thanks, hope it keeps growing

(Alessio Fattorini) #11

Any advice on this?

(Sarah Hawk) #12

I think the idea has great merit, however the barrier to entry is fairly high. Creating a page like that will take an investment of time. You need to make sure that the benefits reflect that.

I also think you open yourself up to ill feeling if you let a committee decide. It might be a better idea to say that anyone with x thumbs ups gets in. That takes the onus of an individual (or small group).

My third tip would be to make qualification an ongoing thing. People have to make x posts per month, or introduce one new member to the community each month in order to stay in the group.

Does that help?

(Alessio Fattorini) #13

Thanks for your great advices, I understand the barrier of the page, what do you suggest alternatively? I have to gather those infos by myself? Discourse stats are enough? And candidates should just post their candidature?
Agree with qualification as on going thing…

(Sarah Hawk) #14

Not necessarily. You could base qualification on something different, or tailor it around stats that you already collect.

(Alessio Fattorini) #15

or I have to do by myself the candidature? As spotify Rockstar program does:

(Alessio Fattorini) #16

Rolled out yesterday my NethServer Super Member Program:

Thanks @HAWK for your helpful advices!

(Sarah Hawk) #17

No problem. Keep us updated with progress.
I’d love to know what works well and what doesn’t work for you.

(Rebecca Braglio) #18

Gosh I’m so sorry - I’ve been tagged in this thread and I didn’t have my notifications on!

This community was for a pet supply company ( It was not used for selling products or customer support - it was simply a place for pet owners to connect and share tips, etc. The community was closed down about a year ago.


  1. My expectations were way, way too high. I set a minimum number of times they had to login and post to participate (if I recall it was 2-3 times per week). Just unrealistic. While they could participate in any way and at any time, I should have let them dictate the number of times and picked an average of what the group was doing. I should have let it come about more organically and see what worked best for this group.
  2. I used an application process, which was a great way to pick, but I didn’t pick enough of them. I think I selected around 10. By six months, 5 had dropped off the face of the earth or had a life changing event that caused them to back out. I should have picked at least 20 with the expectation that I would lose more.
  3. I didn’t anticipate ambassador fatigue. The ones who were really wonderful members went all out - and quickly got tired of their efforts (and in not seeing immediate responses). I was also surprised that the members I thought would be the most active (based on past behavior) actually turned out to be the least active once they became ambassadors. That was disappointing to me, but I wonder if accepting them into the program had a chilling effect on their intrinsic desire to participate. The ambassadors who turned out to be the best champions actually hadn’t been all that active, but had great qualities and expressed themselves very well.
  4. I learned that finding members who either work from home or who are on disability/retired can make good ambassadors - they were the ones who had the time and freedom to access the online community at all hours.


  1. This group truly became friends – even offline. They connected on Facebook and I even was able to take one out to lunch and have her come to headquarters. We did a secret Santa (my company provided the gifts), did a traveling journal (sort of like Sisterhood of Traveling Pants) where they would post pictures and stories.
  2. Engagement nearly tripled - but it took time. They were a little frustrated at first because they were putting in a lot of effort trying to stimulate discussion - I should have prepared them that it can take time to build up and see the fruits of their labor.
  3. They created some amazing content that we were able to use in marketing - testimonials, images, etc. that were completely unsolicited. They would simply post or just send them to me - and then they would get so excited when we would put them on the site and on social media.