I thought the question “what are you working on?” was (and still is) pretty brilliant.
I think most new members come in to work on their skills as a community manager. That is what they are working on. So, they may feel the question is redundant.
“I…I want to learn more about community management. That’s why I came here. That is…what I am working on. Do you want to know about projects not related to community management? I am also planning and constructing a new deck to add onto my patio out back.”
(I am always sardonic; it helps to get the point across.
I also feel a correlation to the discussion about a need for more casual tones in this community’s atmosphere.
"Wait, wait! I came here to learn that! I don’t feel comfortable explaining my lack of knowledge, here. And in the very first post I make.
Why not retool the original question? Make it feel more open and casual. Let it be known that any kind of project one may be working on is not irrelevant; it is welcome.
“I am working on plans to build a deck for my patio.”
Then, perhaps a reply to the newcomer.
“I can’t fathom even just drafting the plans. Is this a new endeavor or have you done this before?”
That opens up a lot of options for the newcomer to reply to.
“I love drafting and doing DIY projects most would pay a fortune just to hire others for the job, and for materials. I want to make a community for others to support these kinds of projects and show alternative budget ideas they can do themselves, or help others discover inexpensive material ideas that work just as great–if not better–than the traditional (and most expensive) materials. A lot can’t fathom it, but it can be done!”
Eventually it tangents back to community, I would think. At least in this staged scenario.
*grin* Hit 'em in the passion feels. I doubt anyone would talk about something they loathe and base it as an answer to what they are working on, while also designating it their first post in a new community.
From experience with traditional introduction topics, I understand most do not want to describe themselves, unless they are forced to when wanting to apply for a new position. They may want the community and each individual member to make up their own opinions sans the job interview sweats. A good way to do that is to show oneself in action, as they are. A roundabout question like “what are you working on?” tailored to be more lax and casual does just that.