Conversations about Community – summary of #ScioCommunity session

On Saturday 1st March I led a discussion at the ScienceOnline conference about online communities. Here’s a Storify of some of the comments, supplemented with links to the tools, reports and papers we mentioned.

The video of the session will be available in a couple of months – I’ll share that too when it’s published.

If anyone is interested, I’m also setting up a monthly science community managers online chat. The aim is to share interesting papers from the academic literature, identify new tools to help with community management and flag up useful case studies and tips for problem solving. Please DM me or leave a comment if you’d like to join in!


Conversations about Community – ScienceOnline 2014

From Wednesday 26th February – Saturday 1st March, the next instalment of the annual ScienceOnline conference will be taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m going to be leading a discussion about Online Communities: meeting, managing, moving forward. Here’s the session abstract:

Community has become something of a buzzword in recent years – many projects, ScienceOnline included, use it as a way of indicating a more collaborative and participative emphasis to their activities.

In this session we’ll consider various aspects of community – from basic definitions to day-to-day community management issues. We’ll mention the importance of in-person interactions, as well as online ones, and we’ll consider what the future might look like for online communities.

Some questions that you might want to consider before the session include:

  • What are the indicators of a healthy community?
  • What can be achieved on an individual and collective basis from being part of a community?
  • What happens once a community is well established? How do you welcome new voices to combat echo chamber effects?
  • Can communities ever be successfully cat-herded? Is a community something that can (or even should?) be planned from the ground up, or does it happen spontaneously?
  • How much of a successful online community is about having the right technologies and/or communication strategies?
  • Many organisations are now looking to build communities around their products and activities; is this a recipe for conflict or an opportunity for more two-way conversations?

If you’re part of – or a manger of – any community, do come along and add your input to the conversation!

The session is a facilitated discussion, which means it won’t just be about me presenting my ideas but rather about other attendees shaping the conversation by inputting their own thoughts and experiences. Nevertheless, in the build-up to the session, I’d like to outline a few ideas in some blog posts that might serve as starting points for the discussions.

If you’d like to follow the discussions from the session online, it’s taking place on Saturday 1st March at noon (Eastern Time) and the hashtag is #ScioCommunity.