Should we be focusing more on technology here?


(Richard Millington) #1

I was glancing through some of the Discourse stats recently and noticed our top referred topics almost all relate to technology:

Just wondering, is this something we might want to spend more time on here? I don’t want this to become another Discourse Meta, but I can see the value in making this more about what community platforms people use, how best to set it up, and it ties in well with our platform comparison guide.

Very open to thoughts here.

(Robert McIntosh) #2

It would be useful to compare platforms and, even more useful, be able to get feedback on different ones from those with experience.

Having the Directory that @HAWK created was a great start

I’m very familiar with certain platforms (such as Discourse, and FB etc.) but sometimes you have client work (pitches, programmes, projects or implementations) that require you to have access to information on platforms you are less familiar with, so the ability to ask for advice on any given platform would be useful.

We might well talk of strategies for engagement or onboarding, but the practice of that will be quite different depending on what platform you choose (or are forced to use, and requires 'hacking).

So yes, a bit more general advice on technology would help IMHO

(Richard Millington) #3

Hey @thirstforwine,

Thanks for the response. I need to dig up that directory again actually.

I was actually thinking about making the entire concept of the community more about technology.

One of the challenges is there are plenty of great communities for community pros and none do an especially amazing job at the technology side - which seems to be our most popular topics. It’s also that area where people tend to have the most questions.

I’m debating whether it’s worth pushing down that road further. At the moment we have high levels of activity in the private areas (course areas / book feedback), but the activity elsewhere rises and dips a lot.

(Robert McIntosh) #4

Hmm … I’m not sure. I think that community technology SHOULD be more prominent here but I don’t think I would want it to be only focused on that.

Firstly, we should remember that we mainly come to sites like these if we have an issue to solve - many will be short term rather than long term (except education, see below), and very often it will be a technical issue with a technical solution. However, at that point we know what platform it relates to, so we are likely to head to the relevant support site.

The longer term reason for coming here is to further our skills, either through a programme (which as you say, is busy) or ad-hoc when we are reading around issues we may be considering. The solutions here will always be a mix of marketing and technology, and too little of either makes the site less useful.

There are three (or so) levels of detail here:

  1. How do I make Y platform do X?
  2. How might I achieve X in my existing community (which happens to be running on platform Y)?
  3. I want to achieve X and don’t know how to get there from here, where do I start?

I see (1) as something you do on the relevant platform support (assuming it is any good).
I see (2) as something that is a space worth occupying, but is hard since you need critical mass of knowledge across many communities and many platforms (and timezones to make it timely)
I see (3) as the strategy/education space that Feverbee already does well

Just some quick thoughts

(Adrian Speyer) #5

I’d like to add my 2 cents, from what I’ve noticed on the vendor side.

Most people are looking for platform advice, in other words, looking for an unbiased place to discuss platforms and get advice on what they should select. They are looking for the best solution for their objectives. They also want opinions before they take the risk of a migration.

For example, now there are lots of Jive-x customers who now need to decide to stick with Jive-x or in the short to long-term switch to Lithium or look elsewhere. Where can someone get info about this, unbiased? I mean I can talk about all the migrations we have done from both platforms, but I know community professionals will always want to hear from the customer/client side.

Next there is the Review Challenge. Reviews are usually incentive driven or the result of someone’s bad experience. Most people don’t naturally share reviews, unless asked.

Then there are community selector guides, but it stays to the facts, without opinion or it’s biased by the partners who sponsor it. I have seen a couple of dubious guides which were obviously put out to drive leads, and the tell-tale sign is by the lack of vendors omitted from the report. Can you really discuss community selection without including at least a couple of companies from this list: Vanilla, Discourse, Lithium, Salesforce Community, Higher Logic?

Finally, I have written extensively on selecting platforms and migrations. I even have done a couple of webinars. It’s always 100% platform agnostic, but as I work at a vendor it’s harder to get a trust factor.

All to this to say, this is why independent places to discuss this topic are important. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental issue that has not been solved-- and I am not sure how these spaces can truly solve it.

Platform discussions tend to get too personal or too specific to a situation – and are uninteresting for the majority-- so there will be a lack of engagement. On the flip side, technical questions may require a vendor to jump in to do public support, off their platform. This is less than ideal. I would hate to see the Feverbee community fall into this trap. As Rich rightly pointed out their are vendor forums for support.

Another trap is this place turns into another hive of just a bunch of vendors jumping in, and thus defeats the purpose of honest information. I have seen this on Quora and the Facebook CMX group. It really does not add any value for the person seeking info. As a vendor we are most incentivized to say our platform can solve your issue, even if it be by dubious means ( of course never from me :stuck_out_tongue: ) . It is a slippery slope I have seen some discussions here slide into…in spite of best intentions.

Sorry if I have raised more questions than solutions @richard_millington …but I thought it was important to bring up these considerations. Right now I think there is a good mix. If anything, I think sticking to non-vendor specific content is most important. For example, questions you should ask your vendor, like how is data ownership handled in case of migration or the benefits/downsides to allowing down-voting of comments in a community platform. This is the kind of discussions I would expect from “experts”…

(Richard Millington) #6

Not sure I’m with you on all of that, but I appreciate the points.

I don’t want this to be a vendor-specific place, but I’m not sure that’s what CMX is neither. I think CMX does a fantastic job on inspiring people and building a sense of community among their members.

I’m keen to focus on having substantial discussions which hopefully last a little longer and some that remain evergreen. I suspect there’s an opportunity to build quite a unique community around technology, I’m not sure we can do that in just the ‘broader’ community space without focusing on a specific niche (e.g. non-profits).

At the moment the most popular discussions and searches are for the tech.

Very open to ideas though.

(Sarah Hawk) #7

It’s in the navigation bar. :wink:

I’ve seen the behaviour that @Adrian is talking about. Every time someone asks for platform advice, 10 vendors jump in and say “You need mine…”

(Adrian Speyer) #8

Thanks for that @hawk. I guess you get more sensitive about it on this side, so you tend to notice it more :stuck_out_tongue:

This is one of the things I do appreciate about this place. It tends to turn less into vendors jumping in. It serves no one’s benefit honestly. Certainly there is lots of Discourse fans here, but as @richard_millington mentioned earlier there is Meta for that or the directory to PM someone direct. I also honestly don’t really want to do Vanilla support here either.

I guess in a more succinct way it’s better to focus on the over all questions, frameworks and pitfalls to consider in selection. However, I am not sure how much this cuts into Feverbee consulting business :slight_smile:

Technology space, overall is growing, as you noted Rich, because all these products require support and the companies don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to do it all themselves.

(Luis Villa) #9

I don’t know that I’d want to make it tech-specific, @richard_millington, but inevitably there will have to be a lot of tech discussion: we can’t build these things without some tech; we can do all the rest (albeit often poorly!) So it might be a good idea to think about how to facilitate those discussions.

(Laleh moli) #10

some quick point came to my mind:

  • as a user, if I want to get tech. advise I’ll go somewhere which has more tech. guys.

  • I assume most of the traffic for those topics in the image comes from google rather than community members; they have good keywords (high search volume) like discourse, lithium, facebook, slack, … . such topics are great for user acquisition from google, especially if some comparison happens in the topic (e.g. discourse vs. facebook from users point of view)!

  • if Feverbee prefers users to read and answer, then using good keywords in the topic is good for sure.

p.s.: I still don’t know what should I do as a user (a not-regular one). whenever I face into a problem regarding community, Feverbee is one of the first options. but I don’t see lots of topics started by users. and I assume here is not a support platform (though it gave very good support for community management).

(Richard Millington) #11

We have skewed a little more towards Discourse than I would like (nothing against Discourse mind, it’s just the nature of using that platform here).

I think most of the questions that are started by members tend to be tech. We could do more discourse vs. vanilla style posts, but I’m hesitant to go down getting more members for the sake of more members.

At the moment, the support areas for the course are really strong, the book feedback is less than it was, but doing ok. And the rest of the community ebbs and flows a little. Once the book is complete, I’ll probably tweak the concept a little. But I’m relatively happy at the moment.

(Adrian Speyer) #12

It is the “experts” community, so I expect more refined and detailed discussion around tactics here. It’s a niche that is under-served.

(Richard Millington) #13

It is, but it’s an inherently small niche.

(Adrian Speyer) #14


I guess my point was A vs. B is already done to death & every vendor has a support forum for customers to ask questions. I strongly support you in your hesitation as I’m not sure the value of this kind of traffic for you. But maybe I am wrong. You have access to more data points to make that decision :slight_smile:

I’m supportive of your choice any way I can :+1:

(Gear Buzz) #15

Realistically how often does a community professional chose a platform?

For me it’s been twice in 15 years.

That hardly seems a sustainable core topic for a community.

If instead of platform choice discussion you mean general community technology then I am all ears.

(Richard Millington) #16

I agree, it definitely wasn’t a call to make it about what technology to use (although that’s a great discussion to have), but about how to get the most out of the tech we do use.