Gaming x Commnuities! Uncommunity #9

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Our goal to reach 500 subscribers by the end of this month looks steep but that’s alright. We’ll get there soon. :)

Welcoming 7 new people who have joined us since the last email. If you’re reading this but haven’t subscribed, join 217 incredible community builders by subscribing here! but who’s Carter Gibson? 🤔

Who’s he? *drum roll* *🥁 🥁 🥁 Introducing…

Carter Gibson is a Program Lead for Internal Community Management at Google. With over a decade of experience in online community management, Carter has fostered community in many spaces - from gaming (KIXEYE) to digital art (PicsArt) - before being hired at Google.

What can we learn about building communities with respect to Games?

Community management and gaming go so well together because:

1) Successful communities have a shared purpose
2) Games have defined objectives

Communities naturally form around games because everyone is trying to, ultimately, do the same thing - but in different ways. I'm not necessarily saying that it's easy to tap into that, but when you look at the origins of modern-day CM work, I'm not surprised at all that it started in gaming. Beyond that, games have always been inherently social. While we know about multiplayer gaming today - competitive or cooperative - we had arcades, Nintendo magazines, sleepovers in front of an N64, etc all long before the internet. It's fun to solve problems together - and tapping into that energy is fun for community managers.

When is a community successful?

First off, I like that this question is phrased as, "When is.." as opposed to, "What makes..." Two totally different questions and the, "What makes..." question has been answered a million times.

I'm not sure that there's ever one exact moment when you know a community is successful. Even the thriving communities I've managed in the past have left me wondering, "Did we create something horrible?" at the end of the day. Communities ebb and flow from great successes to major disappointments - and that's normal! But there are moments that make me go, "Yes. That's it." Some of them are...

  • Someone who's normally hard on the community team stands up for it in the middle of a crisis and can articulate your / the community's intentions.
  • You can leave the community for a week without stress.
  • Self-moderation happens more often than CMs doing it.
  • There's a steady flow of quality content being shared and frequent visits from members are rewarding.

What's a successful moderation technique for a new community?

Sorry in advance for the totally hackneyed (I see you middle school vocab lessons) answer here, but the one technique that is always successful is to understand the community. Get to know what their expectations are. Calibrate with them using real examples. Hear their backgrounds. This is wildly unscalable work at first - but it pays off. You're just never going to be an awesome moderator if you don't know how your community wants you to talk to them.

One brand community you admire and why?

There are so many. When it was around, Zappos for putting the customer first in a way that made customer success an enviable department for any company. More recently, I've been obsessing over Commsor - which I feel like is the new, hot thing to say these days, but I really mean it. Their casual approach has attracted an incredible community of experienced people who genuinely care about helping each other out. I couldn't be more grateful to them. Honest.

One community professional you admire and why?

This is so unfair! I have about a hundred. So, I'm not gonna give you one. I'm gonna give you a list and a reason why for each:

  • Evan Hamilton, Director of Community @ Reddit. Evan hired me straight out of college and, since then, has done the most amazing work getting companies to articulately and transparently talk about their communities.
  • Mercer Smith, VP of CX @ Appcues. Justifying why users' experience is critical to a company's success and reputation comes annoyingly naturally to Mercer. Every time I see her talk I'm violently nodding in agreement.
  • Corrie Davidson, Director of User Marketing @ Influenster. Corrie and I crossed paths at Google repeatedly (fun fact: she interviewed me for my first role there), and she might be the best listener, advice-giver ever - all while being a true expert in community.
  • Natalia Villalobos, Creator of Women Techmakers @ Google. She was the first community manager I ever met and her pure drive, energy, and passion for community has been channelled into creating opportunities for women in tech. I have such admiration for her work.

Lastly, and most certainly not least, my team at Google. Our work is complicated, new, challenging, and sometimes emotionally draining. Even with 40 years of experience at Google between the four of us, we have to navigate ambiguity every single day - and the goalposts are constantly shifting. Paul, Alex, and Thu are an absolute dream team and, because you know I'm sending them this when you publish it, hi y'all! <3

Advice to someone who's just getting started in community management?

Trust your gut and mess up a lot. If you're interested in community management, chances are you probably understand people and like talking to them. Don't overthink your comms. Don't be too afraid of saying the wrong thing. CMs get to live in this sort of naturally rebellious area that isn't customer success, marketing, or PR. Just... be yourself. Be human. And roll with it when something doesn't go perfectly. Don't let it defeat you. Instead, be curious about why something didn't work or land right. Trial by fire is a perfectly valid training regime.

Follow Carter Gibson on Twitter and you wouldn't want to miss his writing. Read now.

What else we’re reading?

  • Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Reorgs & Team Structure’ by Holly Firestone. This is Part Four of a four-part series:
    Part One: Hiring |
    Part Two: Stories of my most exceptional hires- How I knew they were right for the role and where they are now |
    Part Three: Community Team Onboarding |
    Part Four: Reorgs & Team Structure |
    (Our first AMA with Holly Firestone can be found here)
  • How Discord Won” by Ian Vanagas - This is Masterpiece on Discord and their success.Highlight 👇
Discord won by building 10x better spaces for communities. By selling status, they have also managed to capture more value from those communities than other platforms.
iscord won the competition for the gaming chat platform of choice, and now it wants to be the platform for all internet communities. This means they will be competing with the “big dogs” like Slack, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Epic. Their free-to-play, pay-for-status monetization model is a competitive advantage.
  • Feverbee released the list of the best brand communities of 2020. Checkout to see full rankings here.

    • Come for X, stay for the community.

      • Why? 🤪 Reply with your answers.

        • Communicate clearly.

        What’s new at Uncommunity?

        • Experts to follow:
        • Shannon Emery - Community Manager at Higher Logic
        • Mindy D - Head of Community at Patreon
        • New resources:
        • Forem - Open-source community platform created by people behind
        • The Developer Mindset - New blog sharing insights about how developers think & advice on how to engage with them

        Go to to find out about the latest tools and all new jobs that we added this week from companies like Reddit, Dispo. Check out the jobs.

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