With the arrival of valued associate #820, it seems like we really need a community-based list of tips for new Community Managers to know when they take up their new mantle with a mega-diamond.

What would you like a new CM to know about when they start? Please avoid "political" rants (i.e. SE is terrible because..., CMs failed when they..., etc.) and restrict suggestions to practical tips about working with the Stack Exchange community in general.

  • 7
    Bit too short for a formal answer but: know your memes. These things are long-running, maybe even 'inside', jokes and knowing how to use them can quickly show you care about fitting in and earn you the community's respect. – Tinkeringbell Feb 19 at 20:39

Listen, then correct

The single greatest tip here is to emulate Shog9, a former Community Manager. Seriously, there's no better example of what a Community Manager should strive to be. Shog9's greatest strength was getting people aspire to be better. From various posts in that question

At times I've been at my worst and he was the only one able to see the good in me. He helped me very much before I was hired, when I was at Stack and even after.

You taught me how to conduct myself in a written form. You taught me how to convey compassion and empathy. You taught me the value of a subtle take. You taught me how to help open minds to change without trying to bend them to my will.

A lot of the residual "political" anger happened when people felt they were no longer heard. Shog9 would listen and then correct. The key is to strike that balance. Listening to the community is always important, while sometimes telling people what they don't want to hear at the time. There's going to be times you will be stuck between your employer and the community. It won't be easy or popular, but as long as people feel like you have their best interests at heart, you'll pull through.

Do some moderation

You now have a diamond on every SE site (literally), in addition to a whole host of special tooling. Maybe you have some experience with a diamond, but you might just as likely be completely new to using the tools moderators use. It's worth your time to explore those powers for two reasons

  1. You're interacting with moderators and understanding where they're coming from is helpful to both you and them
  2. You need to know how the tooling is actually used in practice. There are times that CMs (who don't use the "regular" mod tools) forget functionality or even miss it's there (did you know you can edit-ban low rep users? The interface kinda hides that)

There are some userscripts you'll want as well. Check out the Moderation Team for a list. Jump into moderator chat rooms if you have questions.

Do some normal-user review queues as well (and remember Stack Overflow also has the unique Triage and Help and Improvement queues)

Chat some

Chat is rarely formal and there's no shortage of places to interact with users. In addition to Teacher's Lounge and the various mod-only chat rooms, there are some sub-project rooms run by normal users. Places to visit include

  • Tavern on the Meta - Meta Stack Exchange General chit-chat (often has CMs)
  • SOBotics - The inverse of Tavern in that there's very little chit-chat, but you can see the efforts the community has put into helping the moderation effort
  • SO Close Vote Reviewers - A group of people dedicated to site cleanup (SO only)
  • Charcoal - Community anti-spam project

Remember that there's three chat servers (SO, SE and MSE), and only SE overlaps in moderation.


Welcome to the show; since Machavity threw me up as an example in his answer, I feel like I should drop a couple suggestions for you here...

  1. DO NOT look at my work as an example of what you should do. I kinda just... Did stuff. There are better examples, and you'll have coworkers with a far better understanding of human needs and behaviors to draw on. Plus, you have the folks who make up these communities, who possess an absolutely mind-blowing range and depth of knowledge and skills. If you ever feel lost, confused, unsure or over-sure, talk to them - they'll help.

  2. I may not know much about humans, but I spent a pretty big chunk of my life around cattle... Turns out, humans and cattle have one thing in common: when they're scared, they need you to talk to them. You won't feel like it; whatever's scary enough to spook them is probably scary enough to leave little ol' you reduced to a greasy little spot in the dirt... But that's what you need to do. Find hope amid the terror, and keep your eyes fixed on it while you speak calmly and clearly of what is to come. Lead them, going first into danger, and they will follow, if you survive. Try to survive.

  • I do not quite understand point #2 :'( – user1271772 Feb 20 at 4:51
  • 3
    "The single greatest tip here is to emulate Shog9" -> "DO NOT look at my work as an example" I sure am glad I'm not the person who has to try to follow both of these. :P – VLAZ Feb 20 at 6:48
  • 6
    @user1271772 I'm pretty sure #2 is about the complete radio silence from the SE side during one of its biggest crisis so far. Find the posts from september 2019 for context. We're the cattle. – rene Feb 20 at 7:10
  • 2
    @user1271772 are you... unmoo-ved by the analogy? – Journeyman Geek Feb 20 at 9:12
  • 2
    @VLAZ I think I see where he's going. I more want Shog9's demeanor emulated. Listening and then acting is the legacy we should follow. I'm not by any stretch saying that Shog9's policies must be followed just because they were made by Shog9. – Machavity Feb 20 at 15:29
  • 1
    @Machavity I'm fully aware and I agree. However, I also like the humour of the situation where two statements seemed to contradict each other. Yet you did both end up talking about the same things in the end - listening to people. That's really what's most important. – VLAZ Feb 20 at 17:49

Don't be afraid to make mistakes

Honestly, just don't.

We're all humans, and making an honest mistake is as human as it gets. Just own your mistakes and use them to grow as a person and as a CM.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .