best practices for supporting online user communities?
May 8, 2009 1:34 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any information about best practices & strategies for online community support and community development?

I'm in the final running for a Community Support job at a small niche social networking site, and I'm trying to do some research about the best way to manage the various tasks of the role.

The job involves managing the email support queue, handling issues with the forums & moderation thereof, development of help documentation, and general usability stuff.

I have experience with most aspects of this position, but I want to read up on any information I can find about managing user support & forum moderation of online communities.

The site has a very diverse group of about 125,000 active members--overall it's a friendly, helpful, close-knit (heh) community of users, but as you can imagine with a group that large, all sorts of issues come up.

There are lots of virtual communities on the internet (Hi, MetaFilter!) and there are people out there who work in community support. (Hi, MeFi staff!) Has anyone written about their experiences in type of work? I'm having a hard time finding information about it.
posted by mere to Technology (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly? Ask the mods here. I think Jessamyn for one has done some talks on modding here, and I'm sure Mathowie has talked about it somewhere.

This place has far and away the best moderation I've seen, not least because it's still going strong ten years after launch. I've been part of a couple of places that have folded because of over or under-moderation.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:42 AM on May 8, 2009

I liked the recent article "Coaching a Community" in A List Apart. They also have other articles tagged "community".
posted by XMLicious at 2:39 AM on May 8, 2009

I think I can guess what site you're talking about.

Seconding the recommendation to talk to someone who does this kind of work. I was on the project management end of creating a new community last year, and found it difficult to find many good resources.

User support however, should be better documented if you look under general customer service and level 1/2 and helpdesk type topic material that IT support staff would use.

Good luck.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:14 AM on May 8, 2009

Community Lessons from Flickr was a great panel discussion that can provide some food for thought.
posted by verb at 6:08 AM on May 8, 2009

Clay Shirky has some writings on this topic. He talks about this too. You should also probably know about the monkeysphere.

I run a community of 50 and a community of 20,000. The trick to creating a successful community of 20k is figuring out how you can create lots of communities of 150 or fewer- just look at Facebook.
posted by MesoFilter at 6:52 PM on May 8, 2009

Here's a recent article on the topic from Paul Graham.
posted by mmoncur at 3:59 PM on May 9, 2009

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