Our community team also put tremendous effort into a Ticket Smash event, working our way through a backlog of requests, bugs, and fixes. We made it through all 631 tickets in those two weeks. The team worked on issues that our moderators escalated and got a much better understanding of what our moderators face every day. Their tireless work on behalf of the network is always awe inspiring.
It's an awkward point to harp on - as someone who both works with parts of the community team in my role as a volunteer, as well as someone who's aspired (and has had several applications in for the role, including one for the current opening) to be part of the community team, but...
While I do realise the point of the blog is to celebrate wins, current and future, I don't think that we've gotten to the point where the community is appreciated or understood enough.
We got to over 600 tickets, nearly all high priority moderator escalations (and we try to keep this to the minimum), simply because there were not enough folks dealing with it. There weren't enough folks because we kept losing folks to attrition or downsizing and they were never really replaced.
We've lost three extremely experienced CMs and their familiarity with the brand of community management and communication that was a hallmark of much of the last decade.
That they cleared out all those tickets was a win, but that the team was stretched too thin and the tickets piled up is worth considering.
With respect to how we see folks in the company, see the community team...
The original job ad for the new community managers had this requirement:
3-5 years in a similar community facing role within an organization with millions of users
The sort of places that deal with millions of users have rather appalling working conditions for folks dealing with community, and deal with content moderation. Consider Facebook's model of using contract sweatshops for content moderation. Y'all are going to find better fits in small places.
The current requirement is:
At least 3-5 years of professional community management experience for a large technologically-focused user base
Which rules out a lot of great folks within the community.
Contrast this with the description on a broadly similar role on Reddit, for the role of "Anti-Evil Operations specialist
3-4 year relevant work experience in Internet industry, social media, and online communities as a user, moderator or manager
It's open to folks who've done moderation anywhere. While I'm not a redditor, in theory it's open to me. It's nice, inclusive wording that would allow great folks from Stack Exchange and elsewhere to know they can apply.
Digital foundry has had an actual community manager role up on march 2021 screenshot here] that lists
"Established track record of participation in the Foundry Virtual Tabletop community."
as a requirement. I'm hoping that its very least an alternative to formal community management experience. It certainly reflects that part of the industry is willing to consider hiring from within the community, though I leave it to others more well versed in the field to whether its an industry norm.
The opening of community manager roles is typically a matter of great excitement for the moderator community, and this time the response was underwhelming. Stack Exchange had many great community managers who were not from techie backgrounds, and many who were. I wouldn't knock the professionals, but it's worth remembering that you have a diverse pool of folks who actually get the network y'all ruled out. Even if you're hiring someone with professional CM experience, a great candidate may not be from a technology background.
Some CMs understand the problems moderators face because they were moderators. Others have figured it out by working with us. They don't need the ticket smash to understand our issues. They listen to us - and we need folks to listen to them.
I'd say a good chunk of great historic CMs were non technical, or drawn from non technical communities. It feels that this is disregarded, and it gates out lots of great folks. CMs deal with human beings, not just tech workers.
I'd like to bring up the fact that we still haven't really actually gotten around to topping up our CMs yet even if there's an ad. I'm looking forward to when Stack Exchange does so.
I'd also point out a lot of our communities are not technical, and yet there's overlap, and a certain amount of ownership with our technical communities. People do stuff other than code/work and this keeps them on the network.
We've gotten somewhere, but there's a great amount of work to do - both in terms of rebuilding trust and getting the relationship with the community back on track. If y'all want to connect to the community, you need to demonstrate you understand the folks who have, and do interface with it.
Looking back at the last decade - I'd reiterate what I said back in May 2020, that y'all need to ensure that your revenue generating business units are self sustaining, and that community isn't seen as a "cost center" to be cut whenever one of those units needs more resources.