Community Management + Ethnography -- Team Meeting Notes!

(I couldn’t think of a good image, so here ya go…)

Today we did a team meeting crossover, and it was awesome! In attendance were @johncoate and @MariaEuler + @amelia and @katejsim

Take homes (writing on the fly before basketball practice so will flesh out later, and please contribute, it’s a wiki now!):

  1. Create training on Detangler view to help Community Management with @alberto and/or @hugi

  2. Ethnographers can toggle whisper to draw community managers’ attention and suggest further questions to ask, or just ask them ourselves!

  3. We’ll create a new tag (like ‘ethno-attention’ or ‘ethno-hot’) for the community managers to use when they want us to code something right away/with priority.

  4. A good way of structuring future events and questions is to look at central nodes in the SSNA and go one adjacent to the “big” buzzy topics – e.g. next to “privacy”, we have “trade-off” and “decision-making”, so ask people how they make trade-offs, which will create more richness and less boilerplate / conditioned answers.

  5. Interviews are too long and are hard to both code and engage with. Separating post into 3 main themes — 3 posts, asking people to post them.

  6. Summary posts and posts in general have too many topics, making them uncodeable.

  7. Experiment with much shorter, more tightly focused interviews – get people to tell a story for 5 minutes, and then post those!

  8. Summaries of events should also be shorter, and focused on a limited range of themes (and/or broken up into multiple posts).

  9. Work together to generate good questions!


Really enjoyed the conversation and feel motivated.

Here the two posts for the upcoming freelancer events:

Extremely happy to improve phrasing and questions with your input and if you see any interesting connection or topic emerge happy to react by setting up small scale things like this.

Was thinking if maybe we should start a new thread just for questions?

Could include a short intro on best practises of questions in threads, interviews and forms and then, whenever someone from the research of cm team finds a good question it can be put there and used for reference but also to inform the CM’s to try bringing it up? Or do you think seperating that like that isnot useful and we rather should go topic by topic and see how it develops the next few month also through the regular check-ins?

1 Like

posts in general have too many topics, making them uncodeable

Important point. Thus I infer that it should be one post/one point.

Good work everyone!

CMs (like all users) can configure their own work environment so as to manage their attention across different classes of topics. For example, in Discourse they could:

  • Watch topics with the ethno-hot tag.
  • Keep a tab open at
  • Direct the RSS feed of the tag onto their feed reader, if they are still into reading blogs that way (

Very cool idea, even potentially experimentable (in a proper, controlled, scientific way, I mean. Not by us, we would need proper experimental economists, but…).

Coming from a group of ethnographers, this is surprising! I thought coding interviews in which informants ramble and digress was a core practice. What exactly are you seeing?

I don’t think summary posts were ever meant to be coded, they are secondary material. If they generate further discussion, that discussion is potentially valuable for coding. Are they generating discussion? My impression is that in generally no, they are not, but I could be wrong.

“Posts in general” => What do you mean? We have no control on what people in the community post.

Can you make examples of “good” and “too long” event summaries? I ask because I wrote one myself. It is indeed quite long (almost 3K words), but I think it is reasonably well written: at the high range of length for a blog post, broken down into individual results, plenty of quotes. As it encodes collective work, it can not be as compact as me speaking my own mind and using my own language (for a fairly complex topic that would be 1.3 to 1.6 K words for me). That post would be easy to break down by result, coming down to 5 posts. But, I feel, that would not do justice to its primary purpose, which was to return something to participants, and generate a round of further discussion. Which it did: 50 posts in the topic by 12 users. Do you consider this a good or a bad example?

Yes, sorry for the lack of detail— wrote these on the fly.

This is exactly what I said to @johncoate in our meeting — if it was just me as an ethnographer doing my own research, I would love to analyse the long rambling interviews. But it doesn’t work as well for SSNA – in a long, long interview, 100 codes co-occur and there’s no designation of meaningful separation between topics. And from the CM side, it’s really hard to get people to engage and respond to those long interviews.

I see two options here, and pursuing both might be wise:

One, we treat interviews as a different kind of material and figure out how to either break them up manually or code them differently. This is something we should do anyway, if we are going to keep going down the route of uploading field notes and interviews.

Two, we try to focus our energy on shorter but highly focused interviews (so, we ask them to tell a specific story) so that we get the depth, but not the wide range of topics. We discussed in the call that the best posts from Open Care were ones that were discussing a narrow range of issues through a very focused story.

Your event summary is great, since it generated lots of conversation, and is around a pretty focused topic (even if it’s long). That’s the tough thing – we kind of have to judge this after the fact. The numbers you generated somewhere else could be helpful, re how long a post can be to still get interactivity, but we have to exclude the event planning posts from them because they confound everything (long posts with lots of comments, but not ethnographic).

Better summary of this point – we were asking what the summary posts were for. If for coding, not super useful, otherwise no issue, but we were wondering what the goal of them was so we knew, as they don’t seem to be generating discussion. We wanted to know if we should keep an eye on them for coding comments or if we could just not worry about them (and also the CMs were wondering what they should do with them re engagement).

Don’t know what I meant by posts in general, so forgive the errors made in haste :stuck_out_tongue:

But that’s still fine, because, as a blogger, what I am hearing is “write as if you were blogging, and you’re OK”. Sometimes the topic will require a longer form, other times less so. But I still have a strong guidance, which is thinking in terms of an audience I myself am a part of – in that example, the audience was the “instant constituency” around Surveillance Pandemic: the 35 people that attended the call, plus the lurkers on the previous topic (54 posts authored by 14 users, but over 2,000 views), plus people potentially interested in the topic and in the general space as the 35 (infosec, privacy activists etc.).

1 Like

Uh… maybe an experiment to shut down then. Ping @nadia.

Yeah, tone is something we also talked about. THere is something a lot more approachable about someone saying “hey, here are my thoughts/this is my story” vs a transcript of an interview. So this is another thing to test out that may have nothing to do with length and more to do with how you tell the story or deliver the information – who it invites to engage, and how.

This also requires us as an ethno + CM team to decide what we are trying to get out of each different kind of content. We can base this in what has already come on platform, and also in our own experience resaerch-wise. Interviews are useful for different reasons than conversations on platform. We can start to work toward a wider ethnographic methodology of which SSNA is an integral part.

Tech person’s comments on this:

  • Good idea. :slight_smile: I’d also choose Discourse tags for this purpose.
  • Please don’t use a tag starting with ethno-, as that namespace is reserved for per-project ethnographic corpora as per our own convention. Something like codethis would work.
  • Once you made up your mind, please document the usage of the new Discourse tag in the Open Ethnographer Manual. And ideally also in the Discourse Admin Manual, section “3.3. How to know what tags are for what purpose?”.

Noted! How about we just go ahead and use codepriority for it, @MariaEuler and @johncoate? If that works, I’ll document it in the manual.



works for me.

Ace, then I’m on it! Thanks all :slight_smile:

@nadia and @noemi, please tag any content that you want prioritised for coding with the tag codepriority (and please let anyone else who tags content know to use it!)


But codepriority as a standalone tag doesn’t tell you which project it should be coded for…
Do you want this as a replacement of ethno-poprebel etc. or in addition to it? asking because I just stumbled upon a post with only priority, but no project.

In addition, please! One tells us what project (ethno tag) the other just what to prioritise. It can’t be a replacement because the ethno prefix lets OE/Graphryder know what to grab.

1 Like

yep, thought so… ok all clear!

1 Like