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Shutting Down Community Spaces: When to Let Go and Try Something New

Posted Jan 17, 2023 | Views 131
# Community Roundtable
Caty Kobe
Caty Kobe
Caty Kobe
Head of Community @ Nextdoor

Caty Kobe is the Head of Community at Nextdoor, the platform where you connect to the neighborhoods that matter to you so you can belong. Prior to Nextdoor, Caty held community leadership positions at Square, Airbnb, Opentable, Feverbee, and others. She's a rescue dog mama, an avid gardener, a karaoke enthusiast, and a proud San Franciscian.

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Caty Kobe is the Head of Community at Nextdoor, the platform where you connect to the neighborhoods that matter to you so you can belong. Prior to Nextdoor, Caty held community leadership positions at Square, Airbnb, Opentable, Feverbee, and others. She's a rescue dog mama, an avid gardener, a karaoke enthusiast, and a proud San Franciscian.

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We invest hours, days, months, maybe even years of time building a community space. After all that investment, do we have the ability to shut it down if it's not working?

No matter how much effort we've put into a community space, we have to be honest about whether or not it's serving and supporting the community and be willing to let go.

But that's easier said than done. This is an honest conversation with veteran community builder and current Head of Community at Nextdoor, Caty Kobe to where she explores her experiences shutting down community spaces.

Caty shares insights from her own community journeys of what has worked, and what hasn't, and some tips and tricks to know when and how to move on.

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Thank you so much for being here and joining us, everyone. And Katie excited to have this conversation. I think in the prep for it. One of the things that we're really passionate about and why we care about this, because this isn't a topic that's talked about a lot of what happens when things don't work, when you have to make a change or make tough decisions.

And how do you go about about doing that? Katie I'll I'll do a very poor intro of you. So other than saying you're a community leader extraordinaire, why don't why don't you tell us a little bit about your community experience and maybe even the context for those that don't know what, what, what happen, what space you have to shut out.

But let's start with with your experience. Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited to be here. I have not done an industry had an industry conversation like this since before the pandemic. So it feels really nice to kind of be back into a space of people talking shop, so to speak.

And this is the kind of stuff that really brings me a lot of energy with my own work. I get a lot of inspiration from it. So very excited for the conversation today. My name is Katie called me. I'm high tech community here next door. I have been working in the online community space, I think since like 29, give or take.

I've held a number of community positions almost exclusively in the tech industry, but for a wide variety of companies. So that next door right now, right next door is an Airbnb. I spent four and a half years at Square was that open table and like a few other smaller startups. So I've seen the online space, especially as it relates to building brand communities from a wide variety of angles.

I spent a couple of years working at a community platform software as well, so that was really fun being like the the onboarding specialist for, for all of our customers who are trying to learn how to run communities. And I also did some consulting too. So I've done a lot of things. I have a lot of experience and random places.

I learned a lot from the ground up, so to speak, meaning that I was kind of part of this group of people who started working in online community at a time where it really wasn't well known as a job description, so to speak. Yes, there were, you know, forums and spaces and like volunteer communities all over the Internet.

But in terms of brands actually hiring people to be intentional about cultivating spaces for their customers or for their users was relatively new. So, so much of what I learned, I learned by listening and watching others in the industry, people like Bill Johnson and Van Repair and McDonald, all of them. Evan Hamilton We've been pals for a long, long time.

Maria I've never just a lot of really, really great people who are willing to share their knowledge with me and help help lift me up and bring me forward. So what I realized though, over the last as I've been out next door two years now and we just recently shut down an 11 year old forum space, and that is definitely the inspiration for this topic, because when I was going through the process of kind of like making the decision, deciding what to do.

Nobody talks about this stuff. Nobody's talking about like what happens when, you know, this just isn't the right fit anymore. For whatever reason. There's like a wide variety of reasons. And I was like doing research. I remember when I was trying to figure out what outcomes were going to be to shut it down. And I was like, Really?

This is it. Like no one else gives like a more authentic answer, Are you kidding me? And so when Kyle had approached me about having the conversation, I was like, This is this is the conversation that we need to start. And I have no idea. You know, I may or may not give you some answers, but I actually am hopeful that everyone here wants to to to join in on the conversation.

And maybe together we can collaborate on some best practices that we can and then share back out with everyone. But but yeah, so that's that's a little bit about who I am and why I'm here in terms of the space that we shut down. Just to give you some context. So next door, if you're not familiar, we are the neighborhood app.

We are available in 11 different countries around the world. In the U.S. in particular, we are in, I think one in one in five, almost one in four households across the US. Now, just getting those that was the one, the number of sorry, one in three households across the U.S. So we're kind of spread out all across all over the world.

Lots of people use us as a way to connect to their primary neighborhoods. The way we differ from a lot of your typical social network, social platforms is that our primary connector is your proximity, right? Versus like having to go on to Twitter or Facebook or something and like build a following, right? And said, you join next door, you connect to your neighborhood and you are immediately placed with the however many hundreds or even thousands or in my case, tens of thousands of people that live around you.

And so as part of this, you can imagine moderating on the site can be a bit complex because when you're dealing with local, when you're dealing with people's real lives day to day, there is so much nuance knowledge. It's super, super hard actually to centralize everything and know everything that's going on. So part of our business is we have this really robust community moderation program and community moderation model where there are certain types of content that when reported by neighbors, will actually go to the neighborhood reviewers to take a look at and then they actually get to vote.

Does this violate the guidelines or should we keep it on the site? So my team is responsible for looking after all of those volunteers. And we have a bunch of them, I think is the last public number that we released was approximately 30,000 active last year. So it's a pretty big number. And when you considering you've got like four people running the program.

And so a lot of what we have to do is, especially when we're communicating with our volunteers, right, thinking about communication and how we scale it very much. One to many like that, that is the world that we live in. And the company had had this forum site. It was an 11, it was a site that they had put up, you know, back when the company was much more early stages.

Things were being developed in different ways. They were engaging with these these neighborhood leaders in a different way. But then the companies shifted over time, the forums didn't necessarily evolve with the companies. So we kind of got to this this bit of an inflection point last year when we were like, is this thing actually really, really working for us?

Is this the right thing for our business and for the community itself? And that's really kind of what prompted the journey that we went on and that we are going to go on today rather incredible context. Thank you. I think that tees up t sets the scene really, really well, both from the perspective of this is not that for someone even as experienced in the community space as you a topic that maybe you haven't had had to get get to that place yet.

So maybe this is the first time and not having resources around it can be really challenging and frustrating. So that's why we're having this conversation today. Since we dive right in, I'll put my quick PSA is now this is intended to be a conversation. If you have questions, jump in. There's a little raise your hand button in the bottom, can interrupt and jump in or throw questions in the chat.

We've got a little bit of time for Q&A dedicated and then also do some break out small group discussions on some props and things. So don't don't worry. This is really intended to be a conversation and I want to so let's pick up where where we just left off, which is that inflection point. So we're we're setting the stage and I'd be really interested to know if somebody wants to throw in the chatter, maybe hit the emojis if you've ever can you put yourself in this position?

I've been at this inflection point having to make the decision of, is this working or not? So how how do you get to that point? What happens when you sort of like, okay, do you just move on? Do you revise? Do you iterate? Is it what what? I guess what went into the decision to say, okay, this this is something that we're going to shut down, We're not going to try and put it on life support or something else?

Yep, for sure. It's a great question. I will say we actually like try to keep things on life support for a very long time before we decided to shut it down. So I joined the company in December of 2020. The site officially shut down at the end of 2022. It was only when we announced it, right? So this was actually a decision that was, you know, nearly two years in the making.

I think that there's there's a few different things that we looked at when determining to shut down the site. I mean, on the one hand, the business professional is you always have to take a look at your business goals, right? Like what is the value? You're actually investing money into this, whether it's through Well, it's through a number of different things, right?

Through the technology, the content you're creating, the people that are on staff to manage it. If you're doing any sort of outsource moderation, there's always a cost to this, like running these sites is not free. And so are you actually getting the value out of the space that you need as a brand? But then there's also the human aspect, right?

Because even though a brand may host a community, there is a ton of emotion and there is a ton of connection and vulnerability and things that happen in these community spaces, right? Like many of our members became friends with each other through this forum site and they develop really strong friendships because they were talking to each other on the same platform for five, six, seven years.

And so that was also a really important thing to consider, I think, in general before making any sort of decision like this, just given the human aspect of it, it's always worthwhile to do an audit. Take a look and see. Is there anything in here that makes sense to try to invest, doing some testing or like designing some sort of interventions to turn things around?

We actually tried a number of different things to before we ultimately decided to shut down the forum site, but they just didn't end up panning out and so that was okay. Then finally just got to the point of being like, okay, this isn't actually beneficial for us anymore. And because it's not beneficial for us, it's actually frustrating our moderators because they want us to to act in certain ways based off of this feedback that's coming into the forums and we're just not able to.

So then at that point, it's like you have to find a way to like, agree to disagree, right? And so we made the decision of like, okay, now we're going to shut this space down. What does shutting this space down actually look like? It is not a project that you can undertake in 30 days or even three months, frankly.

So that is very much it requires a bit of a roadmap on its own and it requires a lot of like space and thinking about kind of like the strategy and how you're shifting your broader engagement strategy before doing so. Kristen just asked, what did you try first? So a lot of what the the forum site, what we found, it was originally launched 11 years ago as a place specifically for bug reporting and for product features.

And so 11 years ago and next door was a much smaller company. They were developing features in a way that was much more kind of in line with like, Hey, like, what do you want to build? So that's just not the way we develop our products anymore. And also too, as a publicly traded company, when we went public, we had a lot more restrictions put in place in terms of what we could share about what is or isn't coming on our roadmap, just based off of guidance from our council team and our investor relations team.

So that was one part of it. The second part is, is that from a bug standpoint, we actually had a much more streamlined process like an actual customer support team in place for kind of triaging and vetting bugs. And so by continuing to sort of like report and push things through the forums, we were actually like bypassing process, almost making it harder on ourselves and having to spend a lot more time and effort into getting things resolved.

So though what we tried to do before making ultimately the decision to shut down is like one really clarifying, kind of like the lanes and like clarifying the intention of the site. My team started doing regular webinars. We started publishing regular newsletters, really helping to give the people like the information that they were looking for, but ultimately they just weren't satisfied that like the very specific feature that they were putting into the forums was not being built for them.

I think that the point you just made hints to my next question was like, okay, well how do you know something isn't working? And what it sounds like it came down to is like, okay, there was there was a purpose for this space. That purpose was no longer needed. There were other better ways that we were doing that, but we were trying to use it for this space.

But everybody that was there wanted to use it for this purpose. And that's not that's not what we're here to do. So there's that mismatch. There's a disconnect between what's my objective and what's my mechanism, right? And so we need to revisit, okay, is this the right mechanism, given that that's that's our objective. Right? And like, one of the things that we did look like we did look at was, okay, are are other mechanisms wrong?

Is actually the form the right way to like, solve these bugs? And the answer was no. Operationally, with the kind of size that we are and the ground that we needed to cover, the one off the time and effort and in tracking, like at some point you get to a certain size and scale where like cues are necessary, you need to be able to track things, assign resolution statuses, you need to be able to connect things to JIRA or insert ticket software.

There's all this sorts of of business process that needs to like fall in line with it and I think actually, as community professionals, as an industry, we're learning we're getting better at getting ourselves more ingrained in the business process. But sometimes we do fall victim of saying too stuck in like the emotion of something as opposed to like really being able to take a step back and be like, Well, how does this actually like fitting into the broader scheme of things?

It's very much a balance. And so, you know, when we we talk to our counterparts on support, right? We talk to our counterparts on engineering, we talk to our counterparts in product and literally like they were not getting value from the types of content that was coming in and it was really just coming down to like, is are we deploying our resources correctly to continue managing this feedback and sentiment, even if it's it's not meeting the rest of the business needs.

The business case is what you shared was okay, that's, that's how we knew this wasn't working, not only from a sentiment perspective, but okay, it's not. I guess that's a spoiler. What were some of the things you looked at to say? Like, okay, hey, here were the metrics. You were the the indicators that told us that this was not not the most effective mechanism.

And yeah, so a number of different things. Definitely the time it took for like to go from like report to ID and reproduce to triage to like engineering cue in like back around. That was definitely something that we looked at. We also looked at in terms of the people who are engaging with us in the forums, like on these particular topics.

It was a very, very small number of like pretty, extremely like vocal people. And so when we actually like when you run the math on it, it just like it didn't actually make sense to continue to support in that way. And the people that we were supporting, they also weren't necessarily the folks who were engaging in the like key metrics on the platform in the way that we like wanted to.

So it was like a lot of people who wanted to come like, talk and like have our ear and kind of have a relationship with someone at the company level. But it wasn't like that reciprocity, again, of like what we were getting for what we're investing in, just like didn't didn't end up panning out. So all of the different your typical kind of consumption collaboration metrics that you would look at in terms of like who is actually most active, how many unique contributions are you getting, how many things are actually being solved by the community versus like your team coming in to solve them?

How many actual legitimate things are being reported? There was a number of reports that would come in where it was like the folks who were reporting things as bugs like weren't actually bugs. They just like weren't happy that the product worked the way in which it works. So that makes sense. Feel like as a product guy, you can kind of I gotcha.

I gotcha. Yeah, I don't understand that. Yeah, I think and this goes into the next question and Gaby, this is where we're headed, which is, okay, how do you deal with then maybe the people who felt it was working better in that community. But we have to remind ourselves that the community is not a community for community sake.

Sorry, I said community three times, but it has some objective so we can identify the personas and those community members of like, okay, this is my desired behavior. Am I getting am I getting that? Are they receiving value? Do they feel that right? So I guess let's let's get into that. How did you deal with that? The population that says like, hey, this was working right?

Because there was not from what you shared consensus around that amongst the the vocal. Yeah yeah. You know the reaction that we got when we finally announced like so there's a number of things that I can go back and say I would do differently next time if I had more time, if I had more resources, if I had, like all things considered, you know, it would've been nice to maybe, like, call some people on the phone, talk them through it.

But unfortunately, that requires like NDAs and a whole bunch of other things that it just like it it was the outcome again, wasn't worth sort of like the investment. So ultimately what we ended up doing was we gave folks when we decided to announce that we were we're closing down the form site, there were a few different things we did.

One, we didn't just take the site away with nothing else. We implemented a tool, gradual tracking. But our our focus though, and our intention with like launching our own gradual site was much more around. This is your events and education center. We actually call it the resource hub. So the way the ultimate framing was like we are, we're not taking something away from you, we're just shifting how we engage with our community, moving away from forums as a construct.

Because remember, forums are not a community forum is a space, it is a conversation type, conversation style. The community is all about the people, right? And so you can cultivate community with people using any one of a number of different tools. That's why you see a lot of really amazing communities in the world that are just in-person meetup groups, or they are just some other sort of event.

Or maybe it's like a running group or something. It is not at all about the technology that you use. So I think then I will step off that soapbox. We we wanted to make sure that it's like, okay, what are the what are the carrots? Right? So it's like we're not taking anything away from you. We're actually giving you something new.

We're giving you something new because we have all this feedback. We heard all these things that you want from us. Here's how we can give you more clear updates on the product. Here's how we can actually better scale our conversations with you by using kind of like an integrated events tool and events platform. We also launched a new program.

So one of the things with Next Door itself being a community platform, people talking to each other on a separate third party forum site candidly does nothing for my business, right? So I'm like, if I want people to talk to each other, I don't want it to be out there. I want it to happen on next door. So next door has a group feature very similar to Facebook group, same concept where we introduce this program.

We're like, Look, you all know each other. You can go create groups on next door to keep talking to each other. Anyone who chooses to set up and is an admin of one of these groups, we're actually going to bring you in and make you part of a group admin program, so to speak, where our team is going to host experiences just like this with this very select group of group admins to get their feedback, to give them that connection to the company that they're creating because they're going above and beyond for us by moderating a group of their peers, so to speak.

So we then basically we're like the peer to peer communication. We actually want this to take place on next door. Next door didn't have groups 11 years ago. Right. And so that's where it made sense to have a separate forum site. But now we do when we do have the ability to host these conversations, we want to encourage those conversations to come over.

So then we build out a group's ad group's directory so that we can feature the basically what happens is the group admins will use this form and they submit their group to my team. We review it and then we kind of give them their own profile on the resource hub where they can essentially advertise their group to other moderators or other members who might want to join.

And we've seen some really cool collaboration come out of it. Some of our groups are definitely geo based, right? So people who are like, Oh, just Florida moderators, for instance, one group is all about bugs. And this one woman started a group. It's called the Bug Busters. And like, okay, great, you all can talk about your best practices and reporting those tickets to customer support and all the templates.

And you know, depending on how that group goes, my team can probably do a lot to help better connect them to, to some different folks at the company to, to give more of an incentive for participating in those types of interactions. So getting back to the original question, how did you deal with people who are upset is like when we sort of anticipated that some amount of people were going to be upset when we developed our comms, we tried really hard to frame it around like, Look, we're going to do something new.

Like what we've been doing hasn't been working for us and we have heard your feedback. Here's how we're addressing it. And then we actually gave them time to react. So for stuff like this, looking up, different learning and development change management strategies is really helpful. Like there's always going to be it's kind of like a curve, right, where you're going to like announce it and then people will be excited and they'll be really angry and then they'll be like, they'll kind of get used to it, and then things will sort of normalize and like level off.

And so we gave them that time in that space to be able to say the forms are going to be available for another 30 days. In this time, you can download the content that you have created if you want to download someone else's content, you do have to ask their permission. It's part of our own community conduct in the in the form space.

And then we gave them the opportunity to tell us which forum threads were super important to them. And so we are actually kind of repurposing those threads into sort of evergreen articles that they can access on the resource hub and then sort of like slowly like phased it out basically over the 30 days before we ultimately kind of like removed links, shut down access, that sort of thing.

That's a very clear blueprint. And it all worked perfectly right, in short. Exactly. I think I say that tongue in cheek, because you obviously have a lot of experience in this space can make a very thoughtful approach to things. But personally, mentally, psychologically, there's there's a counterpoint to this of like, okay, you did did something. Why can't we make this particular thing work?

And I'd be curious if you'd be willing to to respect your decision on vulnerability, but talk a little bit about that, because I think this is the the hallmark of a really successful community person is they probably care a little bit too much about the community, myself included in the people in it, regardless of who they are, whether they're nicer or not.

Yeah, I wrestled with this a lot. I felt like a failure. Had I been doing this stuff for whatever, 12, 13, 14 years and I couldn't fix it, I couldn't make it work. You can ask people on my team like, how many times did I go back and be like, Am I really doing the right thing? Did we make the right decision here?

There was a lot of separating my kind of like worth as a person from my work, so to speak, in terms of like this and in terms of of this project, because there is much as I knew we were giving them something cool and we're trying something different and we definitely were listening to their feedback and like giving them good things.

I also know that there's some stuff that's not perfect, frankly. Like there are definitely other processes internally that like need to improve and not having the forums and not having my team, frankly, take on the buffer of someone else's work is going to force a gap. Right? And that gap might be a little painful, which means the people are going to feel the pain, are going to be some of the community members and that does not sit well.

It doesn't feel good. That being said, it was not at all worth the time. Energy resources that we were spending to like hold the line on that gap. Like the better use of time and resources is to just like improve other processes. But there was a fair amount of time and you know, there would be good days I'd have in the forums and I'd be like, Oh God, what am I doing?

Then there would be bad days. And I was just like swearing all over the place and being like, Yes, I made the right decision. So it went back and forth quite a bit. And what really helped was that when we landed the communication, the first three comments that came in on that announcement, those were people saying, Oh my God, I'm so excited.

Like, thank you. There were people coming in saying like this forum space was really hard. I actually couldn't find what I was looking for. I didn't feel comfortable participating because some people were going to yell at me, right? We all have those members. So we actually started to get a lot of people. Like they started saying like via the Hub, like to stuff like that, which is really cute.

They all call it the Hub. I'm like, okay, But so like that was really helpful. And then the people who were kind of saying bad things, like because of what they were saying, it just, it just sounded so leftfield that like they almost made themselves sound a little bit more ridiculous of like, Oh, next door just doesn't want to hear all the complaints anymore.

And was like, well, like, look at what you just said. Like, of course, for dude. So yeah. So I would say definitely. I mean, I was expecting a lot more backlash somewhat I got for the fact that everything feels like it landed relatively neutrally. There hasn't been a spike in customer support cases. There hasn't been an exodus. Any of our moderation metrics, like people haven't stopped moderating on Nextdoor because of it.

I think it's definitely a huge win. And also to like a lot of the times like we are empaths, we are we are people that come into this work by choice because we care about people we like genuinely just give a shit and that's what makes us good at what we do, but also like being able to separate and get a little bit of space, recognizing that what people say to us, especially when they're mad in the heat of the moment, is not always what it is or going to do.

So being able to sort of give yourself a temperature check, right, whether that is going in and sampling a couple of accounts and saying like this person was really angry, let's see, are they actually going to turn I guess whether or not I've seen this happen in not even just in this particular experience, but, you know, different companies when we've gone through like pricing changes or other types of like massively like disrupting things where you think like, oh, gosh, we're going to make everyone angry and they're all going to leave us.

There's going to be some amount of people who say some really awful things, but by and large, like you will be okay. And so just I think knowing that and having both the quantitative and the qualitative come in and like bolster that perspective also made it a lot easier for sure. But yeah, it's hard. I thank you. I appreciate you you going there because I think that's something that when I talk about that it's there's a yes we can lay out the best plans You can have all the tactics, all the metrics, but there is a very mental, very emotional human being behind it that has to has to grapple with that.

So and I also think, too, like because we're so empathetic, we always want to make everyone happy, like recognizing that, you know, we are in a very tough world right now, like as a society and that there is only so much that you are paid to take on. Right? And so it is actually okay to like set boundaries in the workplace specifically when you're working with your community members as well as with your employees and work like phones and bosses and all that stuff.

But, you know, it is very much okay to be like, I'm not going to respond to this person this quickly or I'm not going to respond to this person at all. It's not in my scope of work. I'm just going to push this onto the customer support team so that they can handle it. But like setting those boundaries for yourself and making sure that you can take the time and space to stay healthy is is really, really important because I guarantee you you're probably the one freaking out about this the most way more than anyone.

All this fills up. That's just a fact. Yeah, I think it's like what you said. If I don't need to call a person to have them be upset with me, if that's not the A, if they're not the person that I need to reach, that I am, my objective is to help them be better at what they're doing.

So my company, my brand, my community can grow and thrive. Why would I? It's not it's not worth it, right? I mean, I think it would be different if I was like, Oh, me making this person mad is going to result in like risking $1,000,000 for the company. I have made that phone call, trust me. But when I'm like, Cool, all you do is just kind of like yell at me on my team every day and you're not actually like adding like in terms of, like the core, like sort of like platform metrics, like, actually maybe you're even creating chaos in your neighborhoods.

Like, I do appreciate it, and I know that vocal members means that they really care and it is really valuable for all of us to have people who care so much about our businesses and our communities. That is 100% true. And two things can be true at once. You have to take care of yourself. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

What questions do you all have? So we'll put a nice bow on the on the journey here and we'll get a chance for us to talk one another. I think in smaller groups. But I want to make sure that there's a space for anybody who has questions about this journey, about things that, you know, what would you have done differently?

Or even if you of your own story or journey that you've been on, if you had to shut down a space, what are some of the things that you took away from that or learn? Oh, yeah, that's we had those in the know, so that's good. Francisco So what small breakdown of process, How long? What was the notice Kind of what the playback Totally.

So I think I made the decision of like I, this thing's going to go in April of 2022 and we revoked, we fully, officially revoked access like January 2nd, so like ten days ago. So I spent the better half of my 2022 with this in my brain and something that I was like working towards. So it started with.

And Kristen, I see your question is that it's a great question actually kind of feeds into this. It definitely started with sort of like the decision and kind of like my recommendation is the person who is working most closely with those responsible for the program, responsible for the resourcing and all of that. The next step from there was stakeholder buy in.

So we definitely talked to different folks, head of customer support, head of product PMS. Like we got a lot of feedback across the board, around like is this valuable internally? By and large, everyone was actually very supportive of it. Like at this point they're like, No, we, we totally agree. We think this is the right move to move on to, to something different that like better meets the needs of both our community and our company.

So there wasn't actually a ton of pushback. There was a tiny bit of pushback around like, Well, are we going to see a whole influx in customer support tickets? Which one you can never predict. But two, when we dug back into the history enough, looking through some old documents and realize, oh, this thing wasn't even implemented for customer support anyway, it actually like made it a lot easier.

And I had a support. Actually it was just like, Yeah, no, get rid of it. Like I'm totally okay with it. So, you know, kind of like decisions after recommendation, getting some stakeholder buy in. Then it was sort of like, okay, everyone's on board with shutting this down. So now is the answer, shut it down and do nothing is the answer.

Shut it down and do something else? Right. So we kind of went through this like decision making process. We have an internal decision making framework process that we go through here where you write down like the sort of like what is like the setting or like the context which people, which key stakeholders are involved. What are the different things that you're considering?

Right? Like one of the options is always keep it, but like what are all the different options? You could go through? What is the option that you're recommending and why? And so then we kind of have this open, transparent process where we then tag in even more people to come like read and give us comments like that sort of thing.

And then what we had decided to do is we really soft launched our space. It wasn't called the resource have at the time, but we soft launched the resource hub to folks in September of 2022 because we hosted our annual virtual conference on it. So we started to introduce them to the platform that they were going to be using.

A bunch of people registered to join the conference were able to actually like use it live and kind of get a sense for it before they knew that this was going to be the thing. So we were able to start to build familiarity. And then even once the conference was over in our newsletters, we would start posting our webinar recaps.

We would start pushing all of the new links that we were sharing out to people through the resource hub as opposed to the Forum site itself. And then finally we gave 30 day notice. We gave 30 day notice by posting in the forums and then sending out that post via email. Wanted to strike that balance of making sure people were aware by again also not just like making something a bigger deal than it needed to be to that point of like, you're going to be freaking out the most.

The bigger deal that you make of it, the bigger deal your community is going to make of it. So like we were clear, we were empathetic in our communication, but we also didn't kind of like overly process the things. So within that 30 day window, right, we kept the forum post open where we were responding and like reacting and managing their comments.

We also did a live with them about two weeks in. So kind of like halfway through the shutdown period where we introduced the resource hub, we talked about all of the features, we talked about the new programs and then we did a live Q&A and just we're like, what are your questions? Like what? What's your what's your pushback?

And some things we could answer and some things that we couldn't and then ultimately ended up sort of deprecating the site right at the end of the holiday season. So that was kind of the the high level timeline. And like I said, depending on the community, if I ever have to do this again or if any of you ever have to do this, you may decide that rather than just kind of an announcement post in an email that it make sense for you to pull in a group of users earlier to do like some software testing or to get there, maybe like do like a focus group or something?

There is there's definitely a lot of ways where you can also get buy in from some of the folks who are already in the community so that they can kind of help you with the transition comes. Even though we didn't do that, we still had a lot of buy in from folks in the community who were we're kind of like on our side, like about the decision.

So Francisco, largely the reactions most I think most people got it. I would say the sentiment was sort of like in the solid sort of like neutral to slightly positive range, Like people are optimistic. We had started introducing a lot of events through our community strategy over the last year and people, they actually really appreciate the ability to get on face to face with each other.

And so if they were able to get more of that instead of just like the comments in the poster, they were pretty happy with it. Let's see here. Kristen has a couple of questions about what was the community offering anything. I was really back that other than bug reporting, what specifically does it offer now besides forums? What is it in the resource center?

So I think generally speaking, like it was a forum site, right? So it's open text field, open text box on the internet that you can put anything into. So a lot of it was bugs and features. A lot of it was just people coming in. Moderators don't always like being moderated and they do get kind of upset if other moderators don't agree with them.

So like they would come in and start trash talking each other in front of each other in the forums. That was a really uncomfortable scenario to have to get into. You know, every now and again they did escalate a really good to us that we were able to push through. But again, that trade off of like is one really good bug every 3 to 4 months worth this like 24 seven management of of this site.

We also kind of like would run into issues of the is larger that has to do with kind of the demographic of folks that we're dealing with but a fair amount of speculation about what we are or aren't doing because of by choosing to do to make a change to our product, for instance, or do something else. A lot of speculation about different policies and what they mean.

And so because of all this speculation, it led to a ton of confusion. And if I had a ten person moderation team to be able to go in and make sure that I meticulously archiving all the stuff that is incorrect and correcting answers, maybe we would have made a different decision, but I just simply didn't have that as a resource.

So what the Resource Hub offers us is basically it is it's a lot of like text video images and our focus is on evergreen educational content, like the best practices in moderating your community, the best practices for using next door to build a community in your local neighborhoods. How can you get a beach cleanup group going and like and actually like make change in your community?

It's your local community itself. That's the type of topics and content that we're addressing with the Hub. My team does not sit under the customer support organization. We are not here to be product support. And so we're very clearly making that delineation between the resource hub. And then we do have a separate help center for anything that's of like product specific.

Yeah, well, let's answer Piper. Ed, one last question about what things could you not address, and then I want to give us some time. Do some breakouts. Yeah, I mean, it's all internal company policies, right? Like different areas that different companies are going to determine what you can and can't talk about. And we generally have a policy of like if it's if it's not public, meaning the feature hasn't launched publicly, it's not on our website or in our help center already, or if it hasn't been kind of like announced through our like official channels, like we don't get to talk about it unless there is an NDA in place.

And so because NDAs are not required for our moderation program. We essentially have to communicate with them as if they're just sort of like the average person, because in the eyes of all of the regulatory bodies they are. And so that's where, you know, I could retroactively try to get 230,000 people under NDA. But I don't think that that's probably the direction that we're going to go.

I think when we do sort of smaller group feedback sessions, we can get in use as needed to be able to share more information with them. Yeah, and I think that goes back to the the thesis of, okay, something not working, it's what is the outcome or objective and the mechanism that we have because it is a forum where there feel like it should be a I post something, you respond back and forth.

There's an unspoken expectation. So when you can't answer something, it's like, well, regardless, I wouldn't be able to. It's not that we're trying to keep things, it's but right. The format invites that. Yeah. And usually what we do is we will tell them, great question. We can't answer that. And then we get like other people being like sort of like trollish on the sidelines.

Oh, you just hear about us. You just don't conspiracy theory. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and then I'm like, Dude, that makes my heart hurt. Come on now. Right, right, right. Yeah. So I want to keep some time for us to connect with one another. So I want to leave everybody with a quick prompt book. When you go into your breakouts, what's going to happen in a minute is Laura is going to open the breakouts and you going to be prompted to join.

And Katie, you can override this. This prompts as well. But I would I want you to consider the question. And you have a peer group that's with you. Is there something with your own community that isn't working? Be honest, be vulnerable. Think about it critically. Is there something that's not working? And what what do you need to do something about it?

So that's our prompt. That good? Katie Is that a good Well, this prompt because I think this part is accepting when something isn't working and you have to make a change like it. These are going to be about six, 7 minutes. Once it's over, you're going to violently be booted back to the main room. We'll say goodbye and and we'll be done.

So, Laura, take take it away. Well, we are at we are time. We have a great track record of being finish on time. So thank you all so, so very much for being here, for giving us your insights, for participating, asking questions. This is the first of the year we've got another one of these events coming up on January 26th.

There's a notification that just popped up. Don't click it yet, Click it when I'm done and I'll take you straight there and you can register. But thank you so much for being here. Katie. Thank you for lending your experience, the heartache, the hardship, the lessons learned for the betterment of of the community. Community. Absolutely. It was my pleasure.

And if anyone wants to chat and Katie go be pretty much everywhere on the Internet, so you're welcome to combine me and say hello, including here. And gradually you can hover over little last shameless plug. Thank you so much. We'll hang around if anybody has questions or wants to chat, but thanks everybody.

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Posted Jun 28, 2022 | Views 1.5K
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