Capture from the Community UnConference

(Left: Unconferences are structured by the audience, who creates topics for sessions and posts them up for anyone to join –they’re bottom up)

I’m jotting down some notes from the Community UnConference here in Mountain View, it’s amazing how many people are involved with online communities, it’s growing so fast –there are hundreds here from pretty much all sectors and all types of companies. While online communities are nothing new, I was one of the first to have a title at Fortune 500 company, as the Community Manager at Hitachi from late 2005-late 2006.

Below is a capture of some of sessions I’m attending:

Dealing with Trolls
I realize I’m supposed to put this on the wiki, so I’ll make sure there’s a link pointing to it, Interesting session here at the community Unconference on ‘how to deal with trolls’. A few case studies suggested that learning to listen to the troll, and ask them ‘do you know what you’re doing’?

A few methods to deal with trolls
-Creating an off topic area
-Evaluate if personals are needed (for example the well has all true identities labeled)
-Point systems
-Own your own words
-Letting trolls become moderators
-Pre approved comments
-Creating a set of messages that can be used
-Build a rules of engagement, and make it public
-Look at other company forum rules, and learn
-For users that may be causing harm (but not know it) ask them in private “Do you know what you’re doing?”
-If someone disagrees with folks, or is erroneous, you need to have your community guy correct the content with a follow-up comment.
-I would NEVER edit an existing message, that breaks trust
-Remember that the forums are for users, and for the community, so the more you clamp it, the less success you may have, as they could build their own.

Question: Is a snark a troll? What if their sarcasm is actually speaking the truth?

How to have a Community Event (in real life)
This was a session that I lead and encouraged feedback, I got a ton of knoweldge that will apply to future events that I do, as you may know, I’ve held events at Hitachi, Lunch 2.0 and was involved with the famous BlogHaus with PodTech.

What’s a community event? It’s like an open house, or as I was quoted in by the SFgate, a tupperware party!

-Define event objectives first, measurement is worthless if this isn’t defined upfront
-Let go to gain more, don’t control as much, learn how to let community lead, less structured
-There’s a correlation of strong online and offline communities to product growth, (autodesk and ebay)
-Multiple touchpoints are required, offline events don’t just happen, other things occur, smaller groups will segment.
-Support organic events: users may form groups without companies, learn how to support (promote, pay, or send folks)
-Bad reputation? Consider inviting a community to your campus
-Good giveaways are important, they are trophys, ignore the cheap junk that breaks, it’s a reflection of your brand
-Good brands can get away with cheap schwag
-Make sure your employees talk to guests and be friendly, (use real names on nametags)
-Don’t exploit community, don’t force them to take pics, blog, or do un-natural things.
-Best way to promote event? Invite influencers who will ‘sneeze’ for you.
-Don’t pitch to them, make presentations opt-in. Better yet, consider creating feedback sessions where customers can play, hack, or improve products.
-Try an online event first, watch relationships form, let community define objective –a great precursor.
-Communicate internally he success and measurements and improvements
-Externally (maybe corporate blog) and capture event, pics, and link to others.

Corporate Communities and Communities of Practice
This session was lead by Jay Cross of the Internet Time Group

-Most people learn from informal learning, not formal learning
-Example of how communities have apprenticeships, however in today’s communities the apprentices may learn more from each other, rather than from the master.
-How to people learn? By observing and being involved in discussions
-The knoweldge management field has had a hard time adopting to the impacts of people connecting (social networking)
-“It’s about connection, not collection”
-Some of the local connections may have better communities.
-Case Study: Cisco launched 12 communities, much of the success occurred as users were able to self-identify and be experts.
-Case Study: Microsoft Support, Reward influencers, knoweldge providers by giving them ratings, gifts and join programs.
-Concept: Experts are the worst teachers because their processes are automated, they then have a hard time describing to others what is native to them
-Concept: the best teachers may be mid-level in career
-Case Study: Xerox brings new people to the community, and wants them to share their outside experiences to the collective.
-It was discussed that some communities of practices don’t want community managers
-I chimed in, a Community Manager should: 1) Community advocate 2) teach (both ways) 3) push the membrane 4) Learn how to get out of way
-Some community managers are super users

There was also a vendor speed dating session, where the vendors (I represented Podtech) sat at a table and attendees would come by to learn more about what you do. My head spun, I met so many people, it sometimes takes a few minutes to explain the PodTech network, but I’m confident everyone understood very clearly after we talked.

At the end of the event wine was given to folks who helped contributed, then it was turned over to the community to nominate community members that had contributed quite a bit. Very interesting to see how folks would kudos to different people.

Above: Video of the final session, you can hear all the ‘key nuggets’ that the community uncovered.

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