Feedback from Webinar on Community Management (Leave a comment!)

Agreed. I am saving my feedback on how we came across until I’ve digested
it.

It looks more like an alternative to Hangouts than to Zoom. To be honest, open source code does not solve the challenge that for powerful and stable video conferencing you need reliable high performance infrastructure backing it up, and infrastructure costs money. With Google Hangouts you pay for that with your data, and with Zoom you pay for it with your money. Zoom works great, and we use it for the Borderland. I’d be all for using an open source solution if it was as reliable as Zoom, but seeing that Zoom is more reliable than all the free to use commercial alternatives, I doubt such a “free lunch” exits.

I absolutely agree. At the same time, I am gathering that two priorities with further broadcasts like this are:
a) reliable video conferencing application and
b) sharing the Edgeryders community - its approaches and techniques - at its best

Considering this, I think it is important that we do everything we can to extend our commitment to open source technologies to public broadcasts and the Academy. If Unhangouts isn’t appropriate, I have also used Jitsi with other partners who work in technical activism. “Jitsi is a powerful, open-source, community-driven video conferencing platform that securely connects users across browsers and devices.”

In any case, I defer to @matthias here - what are your thoughts?

I don’t know what exactly did not work and what are the requirements?

For a high-quality solution for live video, you can also look into YouTube live video streaming, using a hardware based video encoder on the broadcasting side. That’s a little box connected directly to the camera and outputting a H.265 video stream that you upload with the computer to YouTube. It allows to stream in much higher qualities than with software based solutions.

Instead of YouTube, there will also be other live streaming platforms or even open source solutions we can install on our server. The problem is always about getting a low-latency connection to everyone, which is not guaranteed for a random server like ours. So better start with YouTube, also because everyone knows it (they can watch it just like any other YouTube video).

This is not video conferencing though, but people can write text comments to give the presenter feedback or questions. (For webinars, this might be better than participants talking, as they can write at the same time.)

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I’d second Anique’s choice of jitsi - https://jitsi.org/. It’s excellent in quality, open-source, free and idiot-proof which is essential when it comes to me using such a platform. We use it in my organization and with partners and it’s great.

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Thank you all for a lovely webinar on community building. I’m working on programs where building a community around it would be crucial to its success. @hugi, do you maybe have any suggestions specially meant for the nordic ecosystems?

Regarding the platform to use for future webinars – I’ve attended several good webinars on Crowdcast and sharing your screen is definitely possible. The platform is convenient for attendees and popular too since organizations like Techstars use it too.

I would suggest the organizers to consider attending some Techstars’ webinars on crowdcast. They are (as far as I’ve seen) nicely done and the moderator is superb! They have a lot of topics to pick from too, so you’ll probably find something you want to attend.

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Hi everyone!

Thank you all for the much-needed webinar! It was pretty informative and constructive!

I still have some questions on how to efficiently build a community; In my case, I’m on a mission to create a Biohacking community in my region (Medenine, south Tunisia) and I’m still in the stage where I’m introducing people to this new practice. These are my questions:

  • What’re your top tips for growing a community and make it financially sustainable?
  • What are the must-have tools that community manager should use in the process of community building?
  • How do I know I’m attracting the right volunteers and stakeholders and what are the best tools to make them feel engaged?
  • How to measure and track the success of my initiative?
  • Are there any related courses or books you can recommend to me?

Thank you in advance! ^^

I’ve used Jitsi, and my experience is that it’s more flaky than Hangouts. And I’ve never tested it with 20+ participants which is most often the case in a webinar setting. Have you?

Not sure what you mean, but if you explain further I might. Start another thread on that topic with more info and ping me.

I mean - People work differently and connect differently in different cultures. Have you experienced any cultural differences in building communities worldwide? Are any of your experiences relevant to Norway, Sweden and other nordic countries?

(I’ve kept the same thread here because the question might be relevant to other attendees of your webinar.)

Gotcha. Hard to say. I’ve mainly worked with communities in English, and with a predominantly northern and central European population. Obviously, there will be characteristic differences and I’ve noticed some, but that’s very anecdotal and probably not very useful.

Yeah, tried with about 21/22 people, but only did it once. It went smoothly for pretty much all. Otherwise done 5 people max per Jitsi call so I don’t think it’s conclusive.

Btw, loved your presentation. It was excellent.

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This is almost like asking how to build a company… it’s big.
I think first you need to see what are the minimum costs for your community: is it the rent, equipments, people’s time? What do people at the core of your community wish? Do they want to make a living or do they want the community activities to be like a hobby and playground for their afterwork?

I know communities that work with minimum finances because everyone involved does so voluntarily after their jobs. And those involved in coordination and planning of activities dont wish/ need to be paid for that work. The costs for events are covered through barter partnerships: someone offers a venue for free; another knows a local business that could make them prints for free in return for advertising; another person brings food from home; and so on.

This is really minimum questions to ask yourself.

Knowing where you come from, I think what’s most relevant for starters is to meet people regularly to discover who is who and what people are interested in learning with respect to biology?

If you get things done and feel helped, than probably its the right people. But what do you mean by “right volunteers”?

It depends on what your goals are! Do you aim for people to learn? Does it matter that people get on salaries? Making research breakthroughs in the lab?
To give you an example, with edgeryders we could look at the community growth (new people on the platform), but that’s not what makes our community solid. The quality of collaborations is what’s more interesting - and these are the stories like yours, like Zmorda’s and Yosser’s, the projects in the house in Morocco. Is this success for Edgeryders as a whole? I would say yes. Is this the best thing we could do? I don’t know… but the idea that we are still around in a community and in the social good business and some of us can make a living out of this is success for me.
Of course we always strive to do better and better…

Yes - see this section of our Community building manual. It reminds me I need to update the manual in general…

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Does this help? I also think @johncoate might be better suited to answer some of your questions.

Hello everyone and thank you very much for the high level of interaction of our webinar, in the next days we will publish the video so we can see again the live.

Tons of lessons learned in this first experiment :slight_smile:

Techs: we decided that we were using Youtube Live for the session: easy to setup, open to everyone, no installation required. In order to do that you have to request a verification with them via phone at least two days in advance, I did that with my personal account, so apparently we were ready to go.
Youtube Live is using Hangout for the “trasmission” so basically it appears for the users as a Youtube page, but in the background the conversation is hosted on Hangout (Hangout on Air a version developed by Google just for this).
Long story short, two hours before the webinar we started testing Hangout on Air with @owen and it wasn’t working, at all!!

After 30 minutes of trying we decided to test Crowdcast, one of the alternative out there, I’ve setup the account, -the free trial- (apparently no limitations), and we tested: it was working!

So I invited the guests to test the platform, share screen and whatever. We did the test and it was working, then we went live and BOOM/CRASH!

The system started glitching, with delay on the images and it was impossibile to share the screen for the presenter.

So @hugi made a big effort and make it trough half of his presentation, sharing the link on Drive of his doc, but then we had more then 20 people connected (wow!) and Crowdcast was costantly crashing :))

Luckily Jessica (of the attendant) offered her Zoom pro account and we did the rest of the conversation in there (after a pause).

We will test all the solution that were suggested in the conversation, but reality is that only when you have 20+ people connected from all around the globe (with different connection band) that you will really test the technology.
So next step could be testing all the suggestions that emerged in the conversation and see if there is one that has all the features that we like (open source, +20 attendants, recording of the webinar, no plugin/installation required, etc…), maybe with the monthly call? (ping @zmorda and @anique.yael)

Time zone: that’s was a big one and affected a lot the quality of the webinar, the stress of the guests and the participation of the attendants.
We decided to host the webinar late in the afternoon for a timing that was good for the two co-working space/partners that were helping us in the organization.
So the final time was 5 pm Tunisia and Morocco time zone, which, internationally is known as CET.
Bruxelles (CEST) is +1 compared to CET, so that will results at 6 pm.

The website took the time zone wrong and the countdown was ending at 5pm Bruxelles time, so we had half of the attendants ready to participate 1 hour BEFORE the other half of the attendants (partners from MENA region).

As @hugi said before going live, never ever trust the international time zone code, but always explicit the city that you are taking as a reference.
We are going to to that!!

_
Those were the things that weren’t so good, but then we saw a lot of interaction happening and the conversation was, in my opinion, very interesting.

_
Hosting: From a personal point of view, being the host, I found the experience very similar to a live presentation from a stage in term of energy that you have to deliver, with the downside of not having live-feedback from your audience (eye-contact, nodding…) and that was super weird.

I’m not sure that I’ve managed to summarize the answers to the questions at the end of every round (the three guests were answering round-table style to the questions emerging), because it was very hard to read all the written conversation AND listen to what was being said.
In television and radio they teach you to remember every now and then the topic that you are talking about so new-comers or people that get lost and distracted could enter again in the conversation, not sure the effect of doing this also in a webinar.

Questions and structure: in order to share content also before the official start of the webinar, Hugi offered to share one presentation that he did one week ago, that was very useful and a good introduction. Maybe is something that we can repeate, is a good way to let people enter in the webinar without loosing the discussion.

Then we had prepared a loose structure of questions preceded by a personal presentation from the guests.
But the interactions from the audience was really good and powerful that we basically answered what was on the comment sections and not looking at our structure.
Then later I had a look at that and I saw that the questions from the participants were expanding the sequence of questions that we had written, but, because generated by actual experience, the questions were more interesting and the answers were useful instead of theorical.

Duration: finally the webinar lasted 90 minutes for the MENA participants and 150 minutes (2h 1/2) for the first attendants.
90 minutes is the length for this kind of event, also because at the end, speaking of myself, the energy was pretty low.

But yeah, that one was my first experience with that and a very positive one: interesting mix of being together with others, the energy of the interactions, the excitement of going “live”, cool!

In the next days we will share the webinar’s video, so stay tuned :slight_smile:

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I think Hugi’s content was great, but it threw people off - some expected the webinar itself so the waiting was not great because there was no focus. Another person found it great, but suggests to decide whether we want to make it training content or conversation. Personally I think that having a proper presentation that is inspiring, but followed after a not so related conversation makes the whole effort misfire. They are both with potential, but makes half half as it is not an integrated approach.

This is just content feedback, for later, irrespective of the conditions which made us go there…

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I have participated in a number of webinars where there was a similar format: set presentation followed by audience questions and clarifications. It works well, because every audience is different, especially in this broad field of online community.

I am grateful to Hugi for having something for people to follow while we got the tech and time issues worked out. It isn’t something we would do otherwise. And he was a fine addition to our duo of Noemi and myself, making many excellent points.

The hosting where you don’t see the live audience is similar to radio. A certain kind of performance art.

Regarding Noemi’s responses to Dorsaf’s questions, I agree with her points. I have never seen any online gathering become financially sustainable purely on its own in any short amount of time. So one must keep expenses as low as possible with the focus on the quality of what is being said and the energy of the group that comes from the enthusiasm of being together. One idea is to invite guests with expertise to spend an amount of time there answering questions and offering advice to the core group.

Of course you can have a presentation + questions… As a format. My point is that it doesn’t work unless they come together by design and the contents are thought through in advance. Otherwise it is hard to judge them together, you can only say yes the presentation was great, yes the q and a was useful. But the sum is not as good… And I think it makes each look weaker. But that’s just me.

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Hei Dorsaf,

Your post kind of reminded me of this video that you may find useful.
http://customerdevlabs.com/2017/03/20/who-are-early-adopters/

You are looking to build a community that you think is important. Are there people around you who understand the importance of biohacking the way you do? Who are they? Are there people that are looking for a community like the one you’re trying to build? If not, maybe a slightly different solution would be more attractive to build - a sort of MVP.

Your questions about how to know if you have attracted the right volunteers is something I wonder about myself. Do let me know if you find an answer to it. :slight_smile:

Heads up for those who missed the call, you can now see it in its entirety at http://academy.edgeryders.eu/webinar/

Enjoy!