Maintaining relationships. Uncommunity #14

Hey there, We are back with an exciting AMA with one of the best community professionals that you would have definitely heard about if you have been around in the industry for a while now. Before we introduce you to the rockstar of this edition of the newsletter, we would like to thank you for being part of our journey and subscribing to our newsletter. Your support keeps us motivated. We have been working on the V2 of Uncommunity and we have decided to move to a fortnightly newsletter instead of the weekly ones to strike a healthy balance of quality on both the newsletter and Uncommunity.

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

Evan Hamilton is a professional community builder with over 10 years experience, amateur musician, and full-time geek. Currently Director of Community at Reddit. Previously Director of Community at CMX, Community Lead at Coursera, Director of Community & Customer Loyalty at ZOZI, Head of Community at UserVoice, and Community Ambassador at Flock.

What does your day to day work look like as Director of Community at Reddit?

We have over 20 people and a handful of contractors on the Community team so a lot of my work involves connecting the pieces and empowering my people. I have a few deep dives I do with key members of the team during the week on things like our community councils, our moderator education programs, and our support strategy. Some of that is me coming up with ideas, but much of it is helping the team apply best practices to their work, think through solutions, or connect with someone in the org who can help them.

I also spend a lot of time maintaining relationships, both within the team and without. Community, especially at Reddit, touches every part of the org, so it's useful to be plugged into everything that's going on. I provide input, help teams successfully launch their efforts, figure out how their work will affect ours, and get them excited about what we're doing.

Building a product first or building a community first? Choose one and why?

Although I'm not a member, I really admire the community that Shana Sumers built at Her. I do think the future is more focused, private, and intimate communities and she did incredible work with that community during her stint there.

On a larger scale, I think Sephora has consistently been ahead of the curve in regards to understanding how real investment in a community can lift your business up.

One community professional who you admire and why we should follow?

Oof, just one? There are dozens I could mention. She doesn't write a ton, but I will say that Nadia Eghbal is doing really cool stuff as Head of Writer Experience at Substack right now. For prolific, excellent writing, I'd go check out Holly Firestone and Carter Gibson.

What's the best article on communities you've read this year (or ever)?

Another hard one! I painstakingly curate 3 community-related links every week for my newsletter (shameless promotion: read a recent issue and sign up here), so I read a lot. One of the denser articles I really enjoyed this year was from my friend Ana Noemi Hevesi, who did a teardown of how Stack Overflow works, based on her time there.

Follow Evan Hamilton on Twitter and you wouldn't want to miss his writing and newsletter. Read now.

What else we’re reading?

  • The 7 steps to validating your community - I thought I'd put together a checklist of things that you should probably do or think about before starting a community. This is a great piece by Rosie Sherry of Indie Hackers & Rosieland. Read here.
  • Have a vision, but start small and specific
  • Spend time studying your people
  • Have a note-taking mindset
  • Start conversations
  • Flywheels start to happen
  • Simple tools to begin with
  • Validate and decide on what the community should be
  • The Fundamentals of Building Anything on the Internet — Especially Community! Joel Goldberg and his notes on four decades of software engineering is as fun as it is invigorating. But don’t miss the the real truth about “the fundamentals” of how things really get done. Feel free to swap out “community” for “software” and you’ll know them to be true. Read this on YEN.FM.
  • Great teams build great community; it’s not a solo act! Find partners, co-creators, folks who will build with you.
  • Communities grow and move at the speed of trust. Build this in as a core component of your culture.
  • Great communities have clear, unambiguous, and well-designed communication channels that increase the speed and delivery of value.
  • Great communities make space for discussion for spirited and respectful disagreement. More than just a “safe” space but a “default space“.
  • Great communities have an obvious space for knowledge (sharing), culture documentation, a handbook, rules, and perhaps even a code of conduct. I discuss a bunch of that in building a community operating system.
  • The point is this: The most important lesson that I’ve ever learned when it comes to building a career in software engineering and community leadership is that the fundamentals of building anything revolve around who before anything (and everything) else.
  • In other words, if you can’t get the right people on your team (and in your community, especially a new / starter one), in your organization, or around you in your life… you won’t succeed. Period. If you’re building a CommSaaS — a community-centric product or technology service — this is the only way to do it because community is where you start.
  • It’s so obvious that it feels a bit weird repeating, even for community-minded professionals! But I’ll do it one more time: Building software, creating technology, and launching communities are still — and forever more — fundamentally about the people involved, how they communicate and build trust, and whether or not they are aligned around a shared goal, mission, and/or objective.
  • [PODCAST] Think today’s issue was saved for Evan Hamilton. He was on a podcast with David Spink’s Masters of Community. Who is this episode for? B2C, Online, Scaling. Listen to the full episode here. 3 key takeaways:
  • The steps to building community trust include communicating transparently, addressing concrete issues, humanizing everyone, and creating programs to enhance community communication and processes.
  • The benefit of pseudonymity in the Reddit community is that it gives people a place to be 100% themselves and share vulnerable, real experiences that they have been through. This outlet helps users find ‘their people’ and feel a sense of belonging.
  • Reddit scaled its large moderator community by creating a Community Council to provide information, receive feedback, and communicate effectively with moderators representing ‘subreddits’. These members would distill information from the council to their moderator teams and ensure everyone was on the same page.
  • There’s a famous expression, “Money doesn't grow on trees”. In the same way, don’t throw community everywhere. Your audience is not your community.
  • I will leave this up to you to decide.
  • Build connections, not features.
  • Don’t you think people talking about having a community is massively hyped? I still don’t believe that all products/business need to have a community.

thank you ☕

for joining us in our journey. We both have full-time jobs and we have built Uncommunity in our free time as we have been exploring ways to give back and support fellow community builders in their journeys.

If you are enjoying our curation and want to express your appreciation, please feel free to spread the word, buy us a coffee, or let us know your thoughts/feedback.

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