Developing our online community in Tunisia: core challenges and recommendations


#1

I share with you my thoughts on the possible ways to develop Edgeryders online community in Tunisia and other MENA countries. This work is the result of several interviews conducted with coworking space managers, aspiring, new and experienced entrepreneurs during the last 3 months

1. First impressions

The presentations of the benefits of joining our platform, the Open Village concept and our projects were a huge success among our interviewees. We explained how our collaboration could fit their professional projects which fueled their curiosity to visit our platform immediately to explore its content.

Recommendations:

  • Enabling registration directly through Facebook profile or Google address could make the user experience friendlier.

  • In order to draw attention to the activities organized by the community, it is preferable to highlight events such as the open festival village, social innovation camp…

2. Online community engagement

The majority of the interviewees who have already subscribed to Edgeryders platform spend most of their time discovering the content rather than producing content. Their withdrawal from contributing to the discussions could be explained by the poor English language skills of a significant number of the subscribers since English is a third language in Tunisia after Arabic and French. Moreover, documenting and reporting are not a common practice in the Tunisian professional environment. However, I think we must be more welcoming and engaging to the new members of the platform by opening discussions on MENA oriented subjects.

Recommendations

  • Since the community is growing, it is becoming more challenging to match members of the platform manually. Integrating an artificial intelligence to invite members to interact with each other on subjects of their interest could enrich our discussions.

  • It is preferable to integrate an API that translates the content to give the platform a multilingual dimension. This could help members of our community to ignore the language barrier and widens the range of our discussions.

3. User profiling

Taking into consideration the possible distinguishment between two types of community members: content creator and inactive community members (readers), there are two possible ways to develop thecommunity. We could help convert inactive members into content producers or simply provide good content to attract more ‘readers’ (inactive community members).

The online community calls experience

We have organized seven community calls. The guests are mainly from Egypt and Tunisia.

Outcomes of the Community Calls in Tunisia

Guest Topic Outcomes
Yosser Belghith Offline community development for coworking spaces The online community call was an opportunity for Hugi and Yosser to meet and co-organise a hackathon in OurGhema.
Dorsaf Nasseur How to bootstrap your biohacking space Dorsaf and Winnie (community member) had a funding agreement with the partners of a biohacking space in Belgium.
Syrine Bousslema Data collection and prototyping an AI platform After the community call, Syrine was contacted by an inactive member of the platform, Salem Jedidi, who invited her to participate in a hackathon organized by the company he works for as data scientist. Syrine won the hackathon and she landed a one year contract with the hackathon host company to consolidate her AI skills and to launch her project later.

4. Community development perspectives

  • Edgeryders Social Innovation Lab is a laboratory for positive social change inspired from the community calls that Edgeryders community members have been carrying out for years and which have borne fruit in many socio-economic contexts, particularly in Europe and North Africa. The lab involves a diversity of stakeholders concerned about social issues: state actors, private companies and foundations, associations, universities, and people directly affected by the subject (citizens, users).

    By networking this ecosystem of people, a realistic perspective of the community issues will be projected through the Edgeryders Platform. Such perspective helps inspiring the lab innovations driving the social development thanks to the collaboration of the diverse cultures and expertise of the Edgeryders Platform members.

  • Edgeryders Students Brunch: We noticed that the majority of the participants of the workshops and events are students. Such demographic is important for the future of the platform. Edgeryders Students Brunch could be an extension of Edgeryders Social innovation Camp independently organized by students: a way to extend our social change makers community and to allow more people to contribute to the conversation.

  • XLab: A local one day lab that helps dissect a social problem and look for the different possible solutions.

@noemi @johncoate @alberto @hazem @hugi Your feed backs and recommendations will be highly appreciated.


#2

Thank you for this excellent report.
I think given the language realities, that while the AI translator utility would be a good thing to have for sure, until then I would not conduct conversations in English because I think it more important to do whatever it takes to bring out the more quiet voices. Those of us who only know English, or do not know whatever language is used by a participant, should take on the burden of working out the translations after the fact while we improve this aspect of the platform.

As for matching people up manually, I know this becomes quite hard as things get bigger and busier. So maybe you can’t do it for each and every person, but I do think that whenever you encounter someone new and they do or say something that triggers in you a potential connection for them, I am sure you would continue to make that connection.

I had not known that about Syrine - that is really great.


#3

You definitely have a point with this. Using AI / deep learning for this would be quite experimental (while surely interesting :slight_smile:). But you gave me another idea: we could add one or more fields to the user profile that only community builders can fill and see. Such as: interests, projects / goals, skills etc… That helps to create a “collective brain” from all of the observations and pieces of knowledge that our staff members have about community members, allowing the manual matching with larger numbers of users.

Agreed. The same thing is in discussion for the POPREBEL project right now, so I’ll add your opinion there.

That’s quite an impressive list, thank you for putting it together. It reminds us that in this aspect, Edgeryders is like a dating platform: success is when people don’t come back :smile:

If we had a way to track know and track the stories of our success in making connections like these, it would be something we could just continue and expand in the MENA region …


#4

Wow this is great! @zmorda : it is exactly the kind of storytelling we need more of. I know it is costing a low in terms of effort, but it is so worthwhile. I am now making (yet another) presentation for our community management training and emphasizing how much Yosser’s continuous engagement and writing helped us match that with my own interest (in the social innovation camp to which I/ we were happy to attend), and with people in the network (@hugi, @winnieponcelet…) who otherwise might not have descended as well in Medenine :slight_smile:

Events are and will remain a great engine for getting people excited to come together -> and in that context learn about the opportunities provided by the network.
Have you considered coupling the community calls experience with follow up meetups between participants? Perhaps inviting others from Djerba / Tunis etc… to join in Medenine for an afternoon, or a day or two? It could be that planning the meetups after the online calls will help people get closer to what the online can result in. - The Student Brunch seems similar, and I guess it can be made less costly by just having informal coffee&cake style conversations.

Amazing report, thank you!


#5

Hi @Zmorda would you consider moving the post to a public category in openvillage? I’d like to ping some other people who could be interested…


#6

Yes sure


#7

One for @simona.fit & @Val.Muresan : this is a great case study for Timisoara I believe, as Medenine (Tunisia) has been going for over a year, with lots to learn!
I am happy to setup a call with Zmorda and you, perhaps after my next visit of TeaM21 :yum:(!)
Also pinging others interested in getting their communities online, including @MariaS @sebquack @konstantinaz @g.ferri for Trust in Play new edgeryders platform: https://trustinplay.edgeryders.eu/ (work in progress)


#8

This is a really interesting development @zmorda , thank you for taking the time to put this together.

It strikes me that perhaps it is useful to think about building networks around specific topics - and then link them together through people who are interested in different things.

The approach that has been intrumental to building Edgeryders into a diverse community is to start by asking people about their first hand experience around a specific topic. Because everyone will have experience of dealing with healthcare for example. And then that person it turns out is really interested in something completely different, and can offer unexpected support to someone else’s project.

Our approach has been to do a series of “campaigns” - calls for people interested in (add the topic for that call here). Give some examples from the edgeryders platform of work others are doing related to it and then ask others who have experience of the topic to join the call. That is how many participants came to find this community - the perfect example being the work we did with OpenCare.

You will find a complete list of topics, and if you look further below you will find that Anu has tagged every peice of content on the platform with one or more tags corresponding to the topic list; https://edgeryders.eu/t/what-we-care-about/6978