Why online presence widget works for our community, and what about yours

(Anton) #1

We’ve been running our community with an online presence widget at the very top:

People demanded it big time and got happy once we introduced it.

We even tried switching it off and watching people’s reaction, and most of active users got disappointed and contacted our mods and asked to get the feature back.

We asked them - WHY?

It turns out, the main reason is the following: there is often a question that one wants to get answered by a particular expert, and intuitively they think it’s a good idea to ask the question when the expert is online.

Even I get questions time to time that say: oh, Anton, while you’re online, may you please look into ABC or XYZ.

I realize it might be specific to our culture of communication though. Yet I’m going to support this approach while it makes difference, and not going to teach people that it’s okay to ask while others are offline (not everyone is okay to get taught, so let them do it they way they want it).

Hope it helps someone considering the presence feature on their forum!

Now, if you’re showing “who’s online” on your website, may you share your experience, please:

  • why did you introduce it
  • does it make real difference
  • how is it used by your community members

(Sarah Hawk) #2

I’ve always been fascinated by ‘who’s online’ displays.

On a personal level, I like the feeling that I’m in company when I’m onsite, not in an empty room. If I feel like this, I assume a number of you do as well, so on a professional level it makes me nervous. If you visit a community and see that there is only 1 other person online, how damaging are the negative connotations?

(Anton) #3

When we had few people online (we introduced the widget in the early period of the community lifetime), I just regulated the period when someone is considered “online”, as well as made orange circles to fill in the space with community members who were last online ordered by “most recent first”, so the widget is always filled in and you get the feeling that there is someone online or there were someone online just recently.

Now we get orange circles at very late night only, so I decreased the time period for green circles as well.