Some tactics for making people feel less daunted


(Sarah Hawk) #1

I’ve been talking to my members and have learned that one of the main reasons they don’t engage is because they feel daunted about the level of expertise here and are worried about sounding inexperienced.

I’ve been thinking about ways to address that.

There is currently no new member safe zone. I’m going to try a pinned welcome post which addresses the above emotion and offers a safe place to start the journey (along with resources that support the most commonly asked questions).

I’m also considering a weekly member interview with a diverse range of members so that we can get to know each other and the various different paths that people took (or are on) to get to their current position.

Thoughts on those tactics? Do you do something similar in your communities?


(Katie Paffhouse Bussey) #2

I’m intrigued by the level of expertise point - I wonder how they gauge expertise? Is it based on how participants describe ourselves or the questions participants ask?

I love the member interview tactic. Maybe include a question around “what do you say to people wondering if they should pose a question” question. It could offer some inspiring responses and help reaffirm that almost every single person feels dread posting.

Another idea could be to coach experts on teeing up their posts more. I suspect some posts may seem like expertise because they jump into the question without providing the background rationale? More detail, while annoying to write, could help create a common language.


(Sarah Hawk) #3

Thanks for the input Katie – I love these ideas.

I’m digging a bit deeper into that, but my current understanding is that when you first join there is no obvious welcome/orientation area – just a wall of posts with titles relating to specific challenges – so people with less experience don’t feel qualified to jump in with ideas because they assume that everyone else is more experienced.


(Rob Nicholson) #4

This is a perennial problem with all forums in my experience. Some people are happy to speak out and others are scared s******s at the prospect (ooh, is that language allowed!). The risk of looking foolish is often the reason. Some of the Stack Exchange sites are absolutely horrible for this - sure they are not chat sites but they way that less experience people are treated leaves me speechless sometimes. No wonder they never come back!

As for making people feel less daunted - well for starters, the established community members shouldn’t jump down their throats and thank them for their comment, no matter how basic is might seem.


(Darren Gough) #5

Might be worth making it super clear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. We were all new, and we’re all still learning daily.

Is there any way also to make it clearer that person is new from the community styling - just so they have a bit more of an outward shield that they’re new and learning the ropes for X amount of time or posts?


(Dean Samways) #6

I think this is a fantastic idea Sarah. Though it may require a bit of work to build this new area, I think a lot of newbies will find it extremely helpful and welcoming.

As a newbie to the FeverBee community, I must say I do relate to the feeling your members have experienced. The wall of info can be slightly daunting and I did ask myself: “How do I begin to scale this?!” With that in mind, a few signposts useful content for those just starting out on their FeverBee journey will go a long way to solving this problem. And, as my FeverBee course is teaching me, improved community experiences will reduce customer support costs. Additionally, this project is likely lower the barrier for entry but only for those who will add to it. Win-win-wn!

I do love @Darren_Gough’s thought:

Might be worth making it super clear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. We were all new, and we’re all still learning daily.

Communities should be wholly safe places, regardless of whether you’re new or a veteran.

Is it possible to perhaps have a badge system for users? Much like the shields @Darren_Gough and @HAWK are rocking to indicate they are moderators, perhaps those just starting out their journey can where something (an ‘L’ plate? :grin:) up to a point when they have posted so many items in the forum? Just an idea.


(Sarah Hawk) #7

Thinking on this, because I agree that it has merit.
The moderator badges are a one off – they’re system generated. There are other Discourse badges but in order to see them you have to view a profile card so it’s not immediately obvious.

We could use user titles – see @dean_samways one right now. For the first month we could have an indicator in there. What word/title would make sense do you think?


(Dean Samways) #8

Haha! I wasn’t too sure what you meant by ‘user title’ to begin with but it’s nice to know I’m ‘Special!’.

Some ideas for titles:

  • Fresh
  • Newcomer
  • Fledging
  • Greenhorn

Feel free not to use any of them.


(Sarah Hawk) #9

Ok, an update.

  • Pinned welcome banner up
  • First member interview underway (coming next week)
  • I’ll work on a solution for the member title idea

(Katie Paffhouse Bussey) #10

One more idea! I hear from members they aren’t sure where to start because the site overwhelms them. This sounds it may be similar to what you are hearing. Perhaps a “start with these X discussions” to get a feel and then post could work? That way they wouldn’t see the full forum and feel overwhelmed?


(Sarah Hawk) #11

The last couple of lines in the welcome topic/banner are

If you’re looking for somewhere to get started, here is perfect.
Hit the orange reply button and tell us what brings you to FeverBee.

Do you think that would cover it?


(Katie Paffhouse Bussey) #12

Yep! (Did that already exist and I overlooked?!)


(Sarah Hawk) #13

Let’s say no. :wink:


(Josh Wolf) #14

Just wanted to chime in to say I appreciate this conversation and the ideas people have put forth. We heard similar concerns when testing a new online community with staff, and have been implementing some similar approaches, so either we’re all right or we’re all wrong :wink: We started a Newcomers group, and have some basic discussions there that we point people to in order to help them get started. We’re also planning to try some member interviews. I’m Watching this discussion now so please continue to share any insights and updates!


(Aimee Charlton) #15

As someone who would jump in and welcome myself in a community because I’m an engager, I often feel guilty that I never get back to that welcome thread to welcome others like they did for me. Am I the only one who feels like that? lol :slight_smile:

I think it’s a place to intro and a safe zone, but setting expectations clear upfront as to its purpose, as well as having it moderated and encouraging any further discussion there is key. It seems as though it would be a great place for connecting people who have similar interests or areas they are working on so that the safe zone doesn’t become a “dead zone”. We had an intro thread in a previous community I helped manage, but our moderators were over taxed and they had a hard time getting back there. Without a clear strategy/goal around it and someone being very attentive, I think it can become something that’s hard to maintain or keep alive. I’d like to think I’m wrong and hope there are good examples out there of how to do it well.

I’m trying to look at it from both sides of the coin: as someone who has introduced herself and my need to connect, as well as trying to see the other value it brings me from a contributor’s perspective vs. what I’m doing today - building a new community from scratch and the need to create this type of area in my community. This is top of mind for me on the best way to manage a space like this in the community and have it be of value to all members, but making sure that it isn’t unsustainable for the community manager.

Does anyone have a great example of an intro section that is working well and why you think that it is?

Thanks for posing these questions @HAWK, it’s very helpful for me to think about and brainstorm.


(Sarah Hawk) #16

I do. See below. ~50% of new users that sign up, post in that topic. I think there are probably 3 reasons.

  1. All my messaging (banner, welcome PM, onboarding email) has that one CTA.
  2. The barrier to entry is low – people don’t have to be experienced to participate.
  3. Everyone does it so it has become a norm.

I’m interested on feedback here too. What kinds of questions would be interesting to read about other community members?

I started drafting something along these lines:

Do you currently manage a community?

  • If yes, what career path brought you to where you are now?
  • If no, what brings you to FeverBee?
  • What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
  • What is your biggest passion outside of work?

(Piper_Wilson) #17

I wonder how they gauge expertise?

For myself, I gauge just about everyone here as having more expertise than I. I’ve been a member of FeverBee for several years and have attended two SPRINTs.

My thing is, I’m still trying to break in to the field. I’m sure some of the issue is my own personal insecure baggage, but I know that’s not all of it. Community management, by definition, almost defies a succinct definition. My only experience with community management was in a highly specialized, private community. I don’t know how to translate what I did there to the “real world”.

I read job postings and have no idea if I’m qualified. I read others and feel that I could thrive in the environment, but they want a degree.

For a long time, I didn’t even know what a platform was! I suppose that would have been a good “stupid” question, eh? :wink:

Just about everyone here has done more and has more experience than I.

As an idea, I wonder if a basic glossary would be feasible. I know there are already a ton of resources, but something in small bits and pieces may help.


(Piper_Wilson) #18

This is where the moderators come in, or not. Fortunately, I don’t see that here. I think I’d fall over from shock if a community devoted to those who are ultimately responsible for the tone of their respective communities behaved that way.


(Sarah Hawk) #19

A post was split to a new topic: Interviewing potential audiences and recruiting founding members


Interviewing potential audiences and recruiting founding members