What would you do if members feel comfortable with you and not the community?!


(Laleh moli) #1

let me open the question with an example:

imagine I feel more comfortable to ask my questions from Sarah or Nick, in a private message. This way, I may get my answers, but no benefit goes to the community.

we have members in our community which feel this way: they contact me in person, when they have questions, when they feel good about something in our community, when they have answers, …! :confused:

my approach so far was to answer them in the private chat, and then share the question or the answer on their behalf in the community. but this didn’t guide them toward self-sharing!

(Shreyas) #2

Guilty of having done this. :sweat_smile:
I think the idea that we’ve to convey is that although the community manager might be really knowledgeable, the collective knowledge of the community is probably more than that. If you know your members well, it’s a good idea to tell the person to post the question publicly so that you can answer it there and also tag other members who might have some inputs on the question. This also serves as a knowledge base because if one member has a question, there’s a very good likelihood of another member having the same question and it would help them too.

(Sarah Hawk) #3

This is such a good question.

It does happen here and I take a few approaches.

  1. I always answer the question.

  2. I ask the person if they’d feel comfortable posting publicly and explain the value in doing so (to crowdsource the answer and to help others that have the same question).

  3. If they say yes I move the private message public.

  4. If they say no I suggest anonymous mode. If they still don’t feel comfortable I drop it.

Almost everyone says yes at Step 2.

(Cristina Salzillo) #4

I usually ask them to share the question with the community to get the better contribution to the topic. When they do it, I am sure to give the right visibility to the post so that they get really good replies.
When this happens, they feel rewarded for exposing themselves, they feel important and connected with like-minded people, so they post again, and more people imitate the behaviour.
My issue is that they share their question in private not with me but with other members of the community that probably make them feel more comfortable. So they share in private discussions that could be great for the community.

(Cristina Salzillo) #5

That is a great idea, I don’t have this feature in my community, but a couple of members told me that they would feel more comfortable being able to post questions in an anonymous way.

(Laleh moli) #6

good point, in fact I understood that I’ve always asked them to use the community and not to help the community!

and people may reject an offer to use something, but they will rarely reject an offer to help others!

Thanks for sharing your experiences @Sarah. I should try these simple-practical steps.

(Piper_Wilson) #7

Good point. Thank you.

What do y’all think about posting on behalf of a member when they aren’t comfortable posting publicly? Similar to anonymizing but not quite?

(Mark Williams) #8

This is a great topic, and, as often happens, it makes me think of the larger picture of community strategy/architecture/design.

So, at risk of being that person that always turns to the systems of community, here’s a reflection/question:

I like @HAWK 's answer and it’s nice her system allows for that (mine doesn’t). But, it does make me wonder about the needs of those that are not being fed. Specifically those who are a bit shy.

Anonymousness helps, I bet but it strikes me that we are asking most of our new community members to step up on stage to the open mic. Would we do that at a community meet up in person? Would people be more willing to start smaller with a subset? Is this why slack works for some set of people? Is there a way to could make it less intimidating? “Would you like to post a question to everyone or limit it to our welcoming committee…”?

(Sarah Hawk) #9

This is interesting. Perhaps in bigger communities you could try cohorts. Introduce 10 (or whatever) people that join on the same day and give them a space to connect so that they feel comfortable.

(Laleh moli) #10

this is what I have done several times! and in my experience, I, myself, felt like a manipulator :flushed: !

I didn’t have enough knowledge about the questioned-case, so I couldn’t fully understand when a response can really help it. plus, this posting on their behalf, seems to make others dependent (is not in the road-map to their mastery)!

the way Sarah is doing is adult-ish(!) + full of empathy, in the sense that she introduces different options, and let them decide.

sometimes it’s also because they don’t have enough reason (motivation) to connect to the whole community.

(Cristina Salzillo) #11

There is a community that I sometimes check where people can post anonymously via the admin. The posts usually have some personal details that people don’t feel comfortable sharing.
The community is quite used to the procedure and contributes to the posts, but then the CM has to go back and forth with the anonymous user to post the replies to the comments.
It seems quite a lot of work, but better than nothing.

(Sarah Hawk) #12

I suspect that’s the key – creating a social norm.

I have a question for those of you that come across this. Do the people that ask you to post on their behalf make other (less sensitive) posts themselves? Or do they only post through you?

(Cristina Salzillo) #13

Yes, they were usually making less sensitive posts. I would say pretty neutral posts that didn’t get any glory but neither hate.
So they usually contact me with very sensitive questions, and once I push them to post and they get replies, they might post again or send me a new message asking for an opinion on the next post.
I also find some people afraid to open controversial topics in the community that might attract disapproval. The community is international, and there are people with different religions and “outlooks” on life, and this can be quite scary.

(Marcin Hakemer-Fernandez) #14

What I used to do was similar to what many of you have already written here.

I just let the person know my answer, and then tell them that they could get much better feedback on the question if they asked the community.

In most cases they totally agreed with me, and only in a few cases did they say something like: I guess you’re right, I think I was afraid, but I should actually engage more, thanks!

I also tell them that there might be a lot of other people with this problem, but who are too afraid to ask or say anything (they just lurk) so by asking the questions publically you’ll be probably helping a lot more people.

(This relates to a closed paid community, which I’m guessing, is easier to control, and feels “safer” for the users.)