We need to change our behaviour here at Experts

(Graham Perrin) #38

There’s also the likelihood/possibility of the on-screen hint leading a newcomer … to discover that whilst what they intended to post may not be new, there is – in this forum – another person with the same viewpoint, or in a similar situation; with useful discussion around that point or situation.

That might (or should) at least generate a sprinkling or flurry of likes. OK, so the sprinkling person might never ‘convert’ to someone who posts more than once, but I do believe that the on-screen hint can be good for orientation, especially for newcomers, in a way that can not easily be measured.

@musingvirtual FYI yesterday’s post 57 under How does Suggested Topics work and how can we improve it? – there’s an unanswered question (addressed to me), it might be nice if you add some thoughts of your own.

For anyone who wonders why I chose this topic for my first post: it’s not because of any sense that behaviours should change. It is, simply, a flow of things from reading https://meta.discourse.org/t/-/43871/6 and other posts under Social Architecture - Building On-line Communities.

If those first words from me give the impression that I’m a consumate professional: I’m not. Here’s a gratituitious 1980s ASCII smiley :-) (does that prove it?) and maybe I’ll chat with some of you later in the Small Talk area …

(remah) #39

@HAWK, the experience of joining this community is fresh in my mind. This leads me think that you have a near impossible task. Maybe I’m wrong as I’m no community expert.

The primary frame of reference is outside this community

First, the framing is all wrong. The community name, Experts, and site name, experts.feverbee.com, immediately work against what you state you want. Clearly, Feverbee has a goal of specialist authority that supercedes your goals in this community.

The tone is set by the experts

I find your responses encouraging but this forum is much more daunting than any other I’ve been involved with.

  • You are the community manager in a community where you are the expert. You truly represent the “expert” or authoritative outsider which counts against you acting as the consummate host. That’s why I’d consider splitting your role so the hosting is intimate and the expertise is more remote.
  • Your heavy involvement is admirable when you lead by involvement but, as other point out, long answers raise a hurdle. I would probably create longer, authoritative wiki topics and point to them from short posts.
  • The clear tructure and obvious expertise attract me to the site but also dissuade me from posting in a casual manner. Again, I would remove many detailed replies and place them in separate topics so they can be a reference for other discussions too.

As the now departed @purldator and the continuing @Bas_van_Leeuwen say:

What are the drivers?

I suggest that the drivers you need don’t yet exist. Although, having said that, I haven’t given this any more thought than the time it took to type this.

  • There are no obvious barriers to non-involvement here. I don’t lose anything by only reading and not posting.
  • There are barriers to involvement: those already mentioned plus a personal cost in converting from the caste of socially-despised “lurkers”. Lurker are the “untouchables”:
  • There aren’t the same drivers for immediacy as comes with membership in many other communities. Here are a couple of examples from my perspective:
    • Support communities. At meta.discourse.org I participate because I have problems and I need to know how Discourse works.
    • Fan communities. At a gaming community, I am motivated to participate because of positive shared experiences.

Why introductions?

Introductions are a specific issue: Why is it so important to introduce ourselves and describe who we are and what we are working on?

If I am already daunted, then I definitely don’t want to introduce myself.

Also, I don’t see the value of introducing myself unless I am an “expert”. I can only think - for a moment - of reasons involving:

  • status
  • promoting
  • advertising

(Sarah Hawk) #40

My favourite kind! Welcome Graham, thanks for jumping straight in.

But you’re a person (and a member) and as such, have valid input. I very much appreciate it.[quote=“remah, post:39, topic:2193”]
Clearly, Feverbee has a goal of specialist authority that supercedes your goals in this community.

Hmmmm, not really. We’re definitely aware of the framing issue. It is something that @richard_millington and I have discussed many times. We made the wrong call when we launched but we’re currently of the opinion that the pros for renaming/rebranding probably don’t outweigh the cons. [quote=“remah, post:39, topic:2193”]
Why is it so important to introduce ourselves and describe who we are and what we are working on?

I (perhaps wrongly) assumed that it would be a low barrier to entry. People could post without having to offer an opinion or put themselves on the line.

Can you think of an alternative that might be more successful?

I’m also curious about something. You have posted 8 times in the two weeks that you’ve been a member. That implies that you’re not daunted/uncomfortable/worried yet I feel you’re saying the opposite. Can you explain?

(remah) #41

I’m begging you to change the name from “Experts”.

Which gets me wondering what FeverBee means or represents?

Truly, I’ve had all three feelings as I’m naturally cautious and I hate getting things wrong. Except that some would say I only hate getting things wrong because I’m so arrogant that I always think that I’m right. But I only appear arrogant on the outside. Just like my posts only appear undaunted from the outside.

Introducing myself is still putting too much on the line because if I leave I’ll have revealed too much.

I’ve taken the plunge and posted so much for three reasons:

  • Making an early commitment: The moment that I decided to sign-up is when I committed to involve myself in the forum.
  • Seeking an early failure: If this is not for me then I’m better off finding out asap.
  • Enjoying some bed rest: I’ve been unwell for these two weeks which coincided with the NZ school holidays. I’ve been “resting” from my more critical activities because it’s better to make mistakes and show muddled thinking elsewhere… like here. The Discourse mobile app makes it oh so easy.

(Sarah Hawk) #42

Well that makes it hard! :wink:
I’ll tag in @richard_millington for his comments.

That’s really interesting. Gives me lots to think about. Again, I appreciate it.

(Graham Perrin) #43

Briefly (limited to mobile at the time of writing):

Both are simply part of being human, and can apply in a vast range of situations. Experts (for want of a better expression) are no less prone to making mistakes than other types of group or individual.

Technically: I know from experience (not expertise) that Discourse – the platform for this forum – can help to create an environment where no person need suffer though a simple mistake.

Later today I’d like to follow up with something less brief. Partly in a separate topic (with reference to this one) …

(Nick Emmett) #44

I think there’s close to zero people here that would actually consider themselves an actual expert so don’t sell yourself short. Your opinion, knowledge and experience here is valued as much as anyone elses.

I couldn’t disagree with this point more.
Not that I don’t think @HAWK is an expert in this field - I totally think she is - however, does she put herself across that way in this community - I completely don’t think so. A great facilitator of discussion definitely but very clear in that this group is for everyone, input is welcome from all and more than happy to share her knowledge and experience with us all - as do most other contributors.

I think the thing about this Community that’s different to the Communities that most of us manage for work or whatever is that, in those communities we have a challenge often where we are trying to convert people that don’t necessarily get community into users and eventually people that do. Here, if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we get community. For me that in itself almost removes a layer of the barrier to posting.

Or maybe I’m just being a bit bullish in my thinking.

Perhaps you could add;

  • Networking
  • Relationship building
  • Getting to know each other

One of my favourite analogies of Community is the neighbourhoods that we all live in. If you moved to a new house would you introduce yourself to your neighbours when you meet them? I think this is fairly similar. having said that - in my own community members don’t really introduce themselves that much, they generally just dive straight in with a post/question.

It’s great to see you hear and jumping in @remah - I look forward to hearing more from you :slight_smile:

(Piper_Wilson) #45


I’ve never heard that before and it never crossed my, albeit fairly new, mind that anyone would think such a thing. Is this a universal view or is it maybe limited to certain types of communities?

(remah) #46

Sorry, everyone. I clearly need to explain.

I’m describing my feelings and emotions as a new member

Thanks for your responses to my posts but I need to clarify the genesis of my posts which is from feelings and emotions not well considered thought.

I was describing my feelings and emotions in response to the topic post which is why I quoted the two key statements where @HAWK wants people “to feel” something specific. I myself didn’t … on both counts. I did find two others who sensed and felt something that I identified with.

In my posts I was trying to help @HAWK to understand what is happening for somebody new to the site. So I reran my stream of consciousness as a new member and restated it in an organised and well-formatted manner. That’s why my comments look more thoughtful than they really are. I was plucking out my first impressions and adding some explanations of how I make sense of it in my mind. I wasn’t looking for validation nor analysis or further explanation.

The following examples just expand of this.

To me, HAWK is an expert

The concept of Hawk as an expert is a very good example of what I am talking about. @graham_perrin, you can elucidate and @Nick_Emmett, you can disagree, but this all seems somewhat irrelevant to me because I was stating my feelings and emotions. They aren’t subject to revision or retraction.

I do appreciate other users who are helpful and stick up for what @HAWK is trying to do but the impact on me has not changed. It doesn’t seem to matter much how Hawk tries to put herself across or what she intends. The impact of this website and her visible behaviours on it have led to me to sense and perceive her as an expert. When I look at her persona, I see someone very competent and knowledgeable so every time I post I am risking correction.

I am mainly risking correction because this forum clearly articulates that is for experts. That’s what the sign above the door says and why I am begging for it to be changed.

It is much easier for me to respond to someone who is any of the following: less authoritative; less precise; a little bit klutzy; slightly distracted; less competent; less knowledgeable; or less expert.

To me, introductions are not relational

The appeal for introductions may be intended to become relational but I don’t receive it that way. When I post an introduction about who I am and what I am working on then I feel that is at best, in the sense of community, an open invitation to network or relate.

If I want networking, relationship building or getting to know others then I would contact specific people directly. This is what @Hawk did to me. Her first private message created a connection, I joined her network and I want to positively relate to her.

(Sarah Hawk) #47

Heh, I’ll work on those. :wink:

Thanks for the clarification and for sharing your feelings.

And sure, I’m an expert in many areas of community. That comes with experience and without it I wouldn’t be in this job. I’m not arrogant enough to think that being an expert means I know everything and can’t learn from others though. As I said to Bas, everyone has areas of expertise and I learn from people here every day.

Your point about introductions is interesting to me. Is there another form of ‘ice breaking’ or ‘making that first post’ that would feel more appropriate to you, feeling as you do?

(remah) #48

The civilised conception of a lurker is someone who adds no social capital, i.e. contributes positively to others, in their involvement in a forum or discussion.

I dislike the usage because the main meaning outside the Internet is to ambush someone to kill them. In that sense it would better apply to people trying to cause trouble, such as those who troll other users.

My use of the term was greatly overstating the issue of being despised as a lurker. But it is a real issue that people feel that they are outsiders, loners and outcasts. I used the caste system as an example because we all know lurkers are there but we have no contact with them so they effectively don’t exist for most of us. They do exist for community managers who spend a lot of time and thought on the problem of how to convert them. But that is a difficult job when there’s no shared communication of issues and motivations.

There is some cost to converting from a lurker into an active user. Relatively minor issues can be major roadblocks for many people. I see the “Experts” lable one such massive roadblock. But I have no evidence to back this up.

One very good reason for lurking is to build up your cultural capital, i.e. understand the culture, before openly participating.

(remah) #49

Humour is good, for example. Maybe asks people to tell a funny or socially awkward story from communities they have been in - online or offline.

P.S. I just saw the blooper topic:

(Sarah Hawk) #50

Have you got one?

Edit: Thinking more on this, I wonder if asking people to add themselves to the Member Directory might be a lower barrier to entry. My concern there is that it implies that everyone currently works in community.

(Nick Emmett) #51

Hey @remah - no need to apologise, as I mentioned before, every one has a voice here[quote=“remah, post:46, topic:2193”]
I do appreciate other users who are helpful and stick up for what @HAWK is trying to do but the impact on me has not changed.

I think it’s worth me pointing out here that I’m not particularly “sticking up” for @HAWK, or what she’s trying to do. Like you, I’m just stating how, to me, she comes across in the conversations. I think we can all acknowledge that Hawk, like many others in here, knows her stuff - how people come across when communication is limited to text on a web page is bound to be subjective and opinions will differ

Aren’t we all?
And not just from Hawk - from everyone?
I’m a believer in something that I think the great basketball coach John Wooden once said (it definitely could have been someone else in fairness) and that is that there is always someone in the room smarter than you. I don’t think anyone here would profess to know everything, but the scope of what we as a group, as a community know, is vast. that’s likely why many of us are here.

I don’t believe the name leads to this feeling. The nature of posting in public forums, on social media or wherever leads us all to risk being corrected, or disagreed with by someone somewhere.

Again, this is likely subjective - to build relationships with people I find that an introduction works wonders. If you prefer relationships on a 121 perspectove rather than a community perspective then that’s different but I think there’s an assumption from the wide majority of people in this group that communities become successful via building relationships.

There’s been quite a few conversations here about all things Lurker-ish - be great to hear your thoughts on some of those.

I think it depends on what behaviour you’re trying to encourage - personally I’m not sure adding yourself to a list is what you’re after.

(remah) #52

I have added myself to the member directory.

(Laleh moli) #53

I want to share my own observation regarding this line: “I want new members to feel immediately welcome”:

  1. I joined yesterday, with some initial hesitation of “what to do-s” and “how to behave”-s. in the first thread, I saw others saying hello and posting some questions.

  2. then I saw the welcome email, and felt more welcome :wink: especially reading these lines: "We want you to tell us what you’re working on. What’s the biggest challenge you face? What can others help you with?"
    my mind said: “great! they want to help me and they want to know about our biggest challenge.”

  3. then I went to the post and saw more than 100s of replies! and even more, the topic was the second of its type.
    my mind said: “O-O! it seems there are lots of individuals with lots of challenges. plus it seems that I should be more concerned!”

  4. then I came back to the first topic, said hello, and asked for the way a civil member may behave!

  5. I wanted to wait a little bit and see the response, so I started to read more topics. there I find out some useful replies. and then some one answered me inviting me to ask. especially knowing that the one who answered me is not one of the moderators make me happier!

  6. then I got a friendly email: “a hand-written hello!” and at that moment, I felt completely welcome.

btw, if you want me to introduce myself, I just need to somehow read this discussion! but not in a CTA way, and more in an indirect way.

p.s.: even now that I feel welcome here, I’m afraid to press the reply button :wink: so it’s perhaps something internal! I call it perfectionism, and the desire not to do anything wrong in a new place.

[Idea] Testing each others communities
(Jay Pfaffman) #54

Right on. This group seems more open than, say, meta, where there is something of an RTFM culture. I don’t remember seeing here any kind of “Well, if you’d just search, you’d find the answer” messages.

Well, my connotation of lurker, developed on USENET groups and mailing lists (nay, LISTSERVs) in the early 1990s, is more like someone who listens for a while to understand the culture of a group before trying to contribute or ask for help.

(Sarah Hawk) #55

Ah yes. I should remove that one from the email. It confuses things a bit.

This is such an interesting one. A lot of people question the validity of that because it returns such small (one-on-one) wins, but I feel really strongly about it. I’m going to keep doing it regardless of the naysayers .

But you did, and with a post that is incredibly valuable to me. Understanding your journey and feelings along the way is so helpful. Thank you. I appreciate it.

(remah) #56

I’ve noticed that difference. It makes this community look more professional whereas Meta too often looks more like the Wild West with a fair bit of shooting from the hip.

@HAWK’s modelling is excellent and it helps to have explicit topics too.This is my favourite since I joined.

(Graham Perrin) #57

I forget what I intended to separate. Maybe it was a bunch of screenshots of first impressions on mobile, which I do have (if anyone would like to steer me to a suitable dumping ground for annoyingly large high resolution images of a small screen topic).

Moving on …

For experts, and for others

Yes and no. I suspect that a great deal depends on the avenues through which each person gains his or her first and second impressions.

The avenues in my case

To the best of my recollection

There was the trigger from Discourse Meta, mentioned in post 38 above. A trigger, but that’s not when I actually posted.

A glance at https://www.feverbee.com/ without bothering to bookmark or scroll down. Top of the window, COMMUNITY seemed most likely to link to a Discourse forum. Pointing without clicking, I glanced at the …experts.feverbee.com domain (bottom left in Firefox) and I might have subliminally wondered why it wasn’t e.g. community.blah.blah (but please note, this is not a suggestion to change DNS).

Registration routine.

Attention to the welcome message within the forum.

Suppression of the urge to follow any link.

A conscious decision to hit the hamburger and make FAQ my second item to be read. This, because I understand the Discourse synonimity between FAQ and guidlines; and because (over the years, through mistakes) I have learnt to place great value on a considerately prepared set of guidelines. To be not only read and understood; the essence of a line should become memorable and should truly guide the behaviour of a member at any level.

Back to the welcome message. Read without rushing.

Follow each link, speed read just enough of each linked page to satisfy myself that I’ll be right for the place (and vice versa: that the place will be right for me).

Something very clearly led me to the long 2015, topic ‘So, what are you working on?’ (I can’t recall what the referring page was, maybe it has been very recently improved to cease directing people that way, or maybe that topic was simply prominent at https://experts.feverbee.com/c/communities).

(Hmm. Navel gaze alert. I thought I had a clear recollection of the order of things but whilst drafting this I began scrolling up from the foot of https://experts.feverbee.com/u/graham_perrin/activity/likes-given and the order is somewhat different. Anyway …)

A long topic with 392 posts so I decided to focus on a recent chunk. IIRC from new year onwards so I used the fancy timeline scroller to reach that point and by weird coincidence within a few seconds I recognised my home town and the name of someone who I associate with SPRU but in fact he’s from IDS, tl;dr the campus where I worked for a decade (a colocation with SPRU) so I immediately felt more comfortable. A few like marks for work-related posts of particular interest.

Then almost certainly into this topic, where I began drafting my first post to the forum.

The short version

I didn’t imagine that the forum would be scarily expert. Things such as this set the tone:

Make this your place

Don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid questions’. Someone else will learn …

… long list of what you can and can’t do probably isn’t necessary.

You’re Invited - to my cat’s birthday?

I can’t recall what it was about, but I liked the stupidity of the title.


A change to the order of things in the golden rules section of the FAQ. This, I’ll spin into a separate topic.


[Idea] Testing each others communities