Category Archives: Online Communities

The Value of #Welcome

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland shares her experience welcoming new members to her community.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

Hanging wooden sign that reads "Welcome"
“Welcome” by Nathan under CC BY-SA 2.0

In my training as a AAAS Community Engagement Fellow, I hear repeatedly about the value of extending a personal welcome to your community members. This seems intuitive, but last week I put this to the test. Let me tell you about my experience creating and maintaining a #welcome channel in a community Slack group.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? Considering switching platforms in an early stage community

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Melissa Varga looks at the challenges of switching community platforms.

Posted by Melissa Varga, Outreach Associate and Online Community Manager at Union of Concerned Scientists 

A stack of cardboard boxes
Moving Day by Nicolas Huk under CC BY 2.0

There’s one piece of advice I’ve heard from multiple experienced community managers about switching platforms: don’t do it. Switching platforms is painful; it means uprooting your community and potentially losing some members (or losing their trust), disrupting the flow and familiarity you’ve been working hard to build among members and between you and your members, not to mention creating a ton of work for the community manager on the back-end.

However, these same experienced community managers cautioned that if you absolutely must switch platforms, it’s best to do it in the earliest stages of the community. Without getting into too much detail, that is the situation I find myself in now with the community of scientists that I am managing. And while hindsight is 20/20, here are a few things I wish I had known last summer, when I was getting ready to launch our new online group.

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Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy on Trellis

Source: http://science-engage.org/
Source: http://science-engage.org/

Here at Trellis, one topic that has become particularly popular is science policy. One of our most active and growing science policy groups is the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) group, which is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to empower the scientific and engineering community to effectively engage in the policymaking process at all levels of government.

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The Community Lifecycle – Converting theory to practice as a community manager

Caterpillars and butterfly on a leaf
Monarch butterfly stages of development” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region under CC BY 2.0

Building online communities can be hard. Maybe you start a discussion and nothing happens – silence. Or maybe last week saw lots of conversation but this week you’re back to worrying that you’re talking to yourself. Combine that with the lack of training and resources for community managers and you can be left confused about what to do to help your community activate and grow.

One of the resources that we’ve used a lot at Trellis is the four-stage lifecycle model presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities”. Millington’s model is based on a systematic review by Iriberri and Leroy which synthesized the results of 27 papers about online communities to create a model for how online communities progress. This lifecycle model is key if you’re a community manager because it explains clearly what to expect at each stage – and what you should be doing to move things along to the next.

We’ve now used this model in exercises for our AAAS Community manager journal club, for our AAAS Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model – and if you’d like to discuss it in more detail, you can request to join the C4Sci group on Trellis where we regularly discuss all things related to scientific community-building.

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Celebrate milestones with Trellis groups

Confetti against a blue sky
Confetti” by ADoseofShipBoy under CC BY 2.0

2017 has been an exciting year for Trellis. We’ve seen record numbers of users logging in and engaging a rise in weekly active groups. We’ve also launched new groups for AAAS members interested in science advocacy and Trellis group admins. Beyond these site-wide metrics, a number of individual Trellis groups have also hit membership milestones this year. Join us in celebrating these growing communities.

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Supporting a community of community builders on Trellis

Human pyramid
People pyramid” by Nathan Rupert under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of our founding values at Trellis is our commitment to training and supporting community managers in their efforts to nurture their communities. We knew from the start of this project that you can build a desirable toolset, but without dedicated group admins, it’s hard, if not impossible, to see groups thrive.

What’s more, community management matters regardless of the type of group involved. It could be a community of interest, gathering loosely around a particular topic. Or it could be a community of practice, wishing to advance and develop skills together. Or it could be a specific collaboration with defined goals and deliverables. In all cases, a skilled community manager will bring out the best in the group.

And that’s why, today, we’re delighted to launch a new group specifically for those running Trellis groups: The Trellis Admin Community.

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Why do academics use social networking sites?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director

Person using a laptop
Browsing” by Nick Olejniczak under CC BY-NC 2.0

Last week some of the Trellis team took a quick look at a recent paper, which asks “Why do academics use academic social networking sites?” The paper presents the results of a survey of 81 researchers at three Israeli institutes who were asked about their motivations for using ResearchGate and Academia.edu.

The survey draws upon the Uses and Gratifications theory from the field of media studies for its research questions – exploring whether the five broad motivations for media consumers may also apply to academics that use online professional networks. Here we outline that theory and then highlight some of the findings from the paper.

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How to measure community value: Findings from a new CMX report

Measuring tape
proper measure(ment)” by Barbara Krawcowicz, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Community managers often face the challenge of communicating their communities’ impact and value back to their organization. As we reported on the blog last year, “defining and measuring shared value” is a top goal for successful communities. Now, a new report from CMX explores the ways in which brand communities are doing just that. In the 2017 Community Value and Metrics Report, CMX shares data from over 500 participants about the ways they measure the impact of the communities they work with.

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Meet a scientific community manager: Tania Siemens

This month, we’re asking all community engagement professionals within science to complete our state of scientific community management survey. The survey’s intended to determine the variety of community-building roles that exist within science, and is the first activity of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows program. We’ll be sharing a report of the survey results once we’ve analyzed them.

But just who are the scientific community engagement professionals? To help answer that question we’re running a series of Q&As with people in existing community-building roles. If any of these stories resonate, please do take 12 minutes to complete the survey! The more input we have to the survey, the more detailed our view of the overall landscape will be.

Today we’re featuring Tania Siemens:

Tania Siemens headshot
Tania is the Community Manager for STEM-Central.net, a community of practice for improving undergraduate STEM Education. She holds a Master’s degree in Invasive Plant Ecology from Cornell University. Tania also works as an Outreach and Extension Specialist on Aquatic Invasive Species at the Oregon Sea Grant College Program at Oregon State University.

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Meet a scientific community manager: Alex Jackson

This month, we’re asking all community engagement professionals within science to complete our state of scientific community management survey. The survey’s intended to determine the variety of community-building roles that exist within science, and is the first activity of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows program. We’ll be sharing a report of the survey results once we’ve analyzed them.

But just who are the scientific community engagement professionals? To help answer that question we’re running a series of Q&As with people in existing community-building roles. If any of these stories resonate, please do take 12 minutes to complete the survey! The more input we have to the survey, the more detailed our view of the overall landscape will be.

Today we’re featuring Alex Jackson:

Alex Jackson runs the social media activities at the Royal Society. Alex is a keen science enthusiast, journalist and fond admirer of a good pun. He has worked in science/health publishing and research for more than six years, and before that worked in regional journalism.
Alex Jackson runs the social media activities at the Royal Society. Alex is a keen science enthusiast, journalist and fond admirer of a good pun. He has worked in science/health publishing and research for more than six years, and before that worked in regional journalism. Find Alex (@alexkeysjackson) and the Royal Society (@royalsociety) on Twitter.

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