How to source stories on a specific THEME

Hi! This is a guide to help you generate an online conversation on on a theme of deep interest to you. It is a wiki document, so you can help improve it by clicking on the Edit button at the end of the post.

The material below is useful if: you have taken on a role of a community manager, community engager, storycrafter or similar, and you set out to create a conversation that engages many different edgeryders members and newcomers.

What is a conversation?

A conversation on takes place in different posts (‘topics’) across the forum with a common theme, and the reactions (‘replies’ or comments) they each generate. It can span a single project category - Wellbeing in Europe, Internet of Humans etc. or it can span different projects - like covid19. It really doesn’t matter much for our purpose here.

Some elements of a conversation unfolding on are:

  • Call(s) for participation: topics created by the hosts of the conversation inviting the community to contribute content and expertise to figure something out, collaboratively.
  • Sourced stories: high quality, carefully edited stories that are authored by either community members or hosts, and act as seeds for the conversation. They are contributions to your theme, contain knowledge with some level of expertise, creativity and craft, and are promoted across the network to inspire new contributions. Example:
  • Spontaneous new stories (and comments): community contributions coming in as a result of the call and source stories. This is crowdsourced content that helps grow everyone’s understanding of the theme, and leads to collective intelligence: emerging insights, ideas, projects that come about through the ongoing conversations.

In all of these, edgeryders community managers provide support, help connect the theme with ongoing conversations, page community members onto the new topics created etc.
Edgeryders outreach team is helping promote the calls for participation and the incoming stories.

Ways to source stories

Pick those that work best for you, and start anywhere. Really, done is better than perfect.

  • Decide on a theme you wish to explore in depth (duh!)

  • Summarize existing content on on the theme and its related aspects. A good tip is to use the Search function and type in the theme, or any other related words. See this example for covid19. Read through the results carefully and create a new post with your personal reflections and conclusions. End the post with a call to action: what should readers react to? what questions should they answer?
    Example: Heroines of Poland: which of these three stories speaks to you the most?

  • Interview or chat with someone from your network with experience/ expertise on the given theme. Ideally this is a person with deep lived experience, or strong expertise, authoritativeness, or charismatic figure. There could be many people with knowledge on your theme, so start anywhere! Don’t forget to report back in a post.
    Example: “Is the communitarian Internet back in the wake of COVID-19?” A conversation with Howard Rheingold

  • Publish your own story! Setting the example is a good way to get started and inspire others!
    Example: On being a self-entrepreneur

  • Host an online community call or a series or a webinar.
    Decide on an appropriate channel for the call:

  1. Edgeryders zoom call: we have a subscription.
  2. Edgeryders own call room:
  3. Any other channel works.
    The important things are: you should announce it about a week ahead on and/or social media; you need to facilitate it; you need to create a summary/notes with what was discussed during the call and what the next steps are.
    Example of documented call: How can community foundations and local NGOs maintain their programs and move online?
    Reference: Community Management Manual - how to organise community calls
    Our community managers will help you and set it up. Contact or ping @noemi.