POPREBEL multilingual community management and ethnographic coding roles

This is a consolidation of the role and recruitment requirements associated to POPREBEL Tasks 2.1 (community management) and 2.3 (ethnographic coding) prior to and following my meeting with UCL (University College London), CUNI (Charles University, Prague) and UBFF (University of Belgrade) today. These roles will be engaged by researchers at each partner’s university under the guidance of our Task leaders.

This post can act as a central reference and I will be requesting that Jan (UCL), Maria (CUNI) and Haris + Isidora (UB) join the platform to continue discussion and resolutions here.


  • Edgeryders - English and overall community management leadership, including community journalism programme
  • UCL - Polish
  • CUNI - Czech
  • UBFF - Serbian/ Croatian/ Bosnian/ Montengrin

* Please note that the POPREBEL research includes other sites and cases beyond these four language groups however these were chosen as the core fora

Multilingual community management roles

Currently budgeted at 2.5PMs within each partners’ own budget = 10% time over 24 months (or equivalent). Head of Community @noemi has requested partners consider their own estimates based on better understanding of scope of work, and suggests an increase to 5PMs (20%) per role.

Job Description for a Multi-lingual Online Community Manager for the POPREBEL Project c/o @johncoate

In a set of online discussions about a subject as volatile as populism, a community manager/moderator needs to act in a manner similar to a referee at a sporting event. It is understood that everyone has a bias, whether they know it or not, but in this role above all else one must be scrupulously fair at all times and to all participants. Any hint of favoritism carries the potential of derailing an entire conversation either by “turning off” those who seek an honest airing of the issues at hand, or by turning the conversation into a debate about the fairness of the moderator.

Next, it is the responsibility of the manager/moderator to allow spirited debate to play out to its fullest extent while preventing that debate to devolve into personal attacks between those who hold opposing views. Not unlike a referee, a manager has certain powers available to enforce the need to ensure a civil debate. That includes banning outright a violator, either temporarily or permanently. However, similar to showing bias, too quickly or arbitrarily banning someone runs the same risk of alienating the participants or turning the discussion into a referendum on the actions of the manager. Thus, it is necessary to clearly describe what will and will not be allowed, and to warn someone before taking more drastic action. Too much lenience risks letting things get out of control. Overly strict management tends to stifle the free flow of conversation. So, lay out the ground rules and make it understood that within them, there will be judgement calls.

Third, be helpful. Often this means finding credible references that help move a discussion away from being dominated by unsubstantiated opinions. At the same time, if someone disseminates false information, even if referenced, pointing it out in a civil way is useful for everyone. Even better if you point to a source that contains the real facts.

Fourth, be welcoming. Actively invite newcomers to not just watch or read, but to express themselves. Some are comfortable expressing their views and others are not. As a corollary to being welcoming, it is useful to remind the more verbose participants to make room for others to express themselves.

Finally, always lead by example. As frustrated as the work often is, maintaining a cvil tone “starts at the top.”

Skills and qualities

  • Able to write clearly and succinctly to suit a variety of people
  • Tolerant of a wide variety of views, including those you don’t share
  • Able to multitask, switching between social/conversational and admin tasks
  • Willing to work a variety of shifts and hours of the day and night
  • A strong sense of fairness
  • Good attention to detail
  • A genuine interest in others, comfortable with a variety of people
  • A friendly welcoming nature and personality
  • Ability and willingness to fairly enforce posted rules, without being autoritarian
  • Be comfortable to work online and interact with others in a timely and responsive way.

Recruitment process considerations
Since it is a collaboration, I would like to know who the collaborators individually are who will manage this part of the process for their respective partners, and hopefully have a conversation with them. Or, failing a conversation, an email exchange where we can come to an understanding about the process and the prospective candidates. I could probably come up with some questions or, as you say, prototype posts, but that should come after talking to the others charged with this responsibility for their partnership.


  • 1 x 2day training in Brussels month 3 (March 2019) with @johncoate and @noemi
  • Academy course
  • Ongoing mentoring

Multilingual ethnographic coding roles

Currently budgeted at 2.5PMs within each partners’ own budget = 10% time over 24 months (or equivalent).

Job Description for a Multi-lingual Ethnographic Coder for the POPREBEL Project c/o @amelia

Populist themes resonate with a part of the European population. To people who reject populism, this resonance can be hard to understand and empathise with, as it seems at odds with the observed long-term trends towards societal prosperity and openness. Conversely, people who find populism attractive cannot reconcile what they perceive with the optimistic narrative of their political adversaries. Edgeryders is co-conducting a research project on populism in Europe, convening a participatory online conversation to learn what the rise of populist politics looks like from the point of view of Europeans living their daily lives. The project is a structured effort to listen to the voices of people on the ground, providing a breakdown of populism that encodes the point of view of the people directly affected by it, both supporters and opposers.

POPREBEL is looking to hire language specific ethnographers to collaborate with us on this project. This would run for about three years (January 2019 - August 2021), on a part-time basis. We have budget available for 10% of your time over 24 months or equivalent.

  • Familiar with the theory and practice of ethnography.
  • Comfortable with online ethnography.
  • Experience with qualitative data analysis, specifically qualitative coding. The software is unimportant as we have our own, which you will learn.
  • Ability to collaborate with other ethnographers coding the same dataset in different languages.
  • Flexibility and willingness to engage in productive dialogue around coding decisions— good communication skills are a must.
  • Good knowledge of English as well as one of the following languages: Polish, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian.


  • Code the conversations, using a tool we built in-house called Open Ethnographer.
  • Build an ontology of relevant codes, appropriate to ethnographic coding of the online conversation, and keep a detailed and organised codebook.
  • Collaborate with other ethnographers to maintain a consistent multi-language coding ontology.
  • Help to compile an ethnographic report at the conclusion of the project.
  • Participate in the discussion towards improving both Open Ethnographer and the SSNA methodology.

The kind of qualitative coding we do has an added element to it: we use the codes to build a social semantic network, mixing ethnography and network science to produce a visualisation of the convened conversation. Thanks to the ethnography, now edges carry information about the meaning of interactions. This method of inquiry preserves the richness of conversation but provides some hard quantitative measures. With social semantic network analysis (SSNA), we can identify networks of codes, and measure their cohesiveness; identify emergent networks of specialists, who interact around specific keywords; and validate individual contributors, among other applications (to learn more, see: Semantic Social Network Analysis: the video).

As part of the role, you can also use the ethnographic/SSNA data to produce publications.

You can do the work online, from wherever you are, but you will be requested to participate in one or more physical meetings. Your travel expenses for these meetings will be covered by POPREBEL.
If you happen to be in Brussels, you can also come to the Reef, but that’s not a requisite. We coordinate and communicate through the Edgeryders platform.

Recruitment process considerations

  • To apply : A short motivation letter, explaining why you want to do this and why you think you can deliver.
    A CV.
  • Test coding


  • 1 x 2day training in Brussels with @amelia
  • Academy course
  • Ongoing mentoring and bi-weekly calls

Over in Riot I note the following:
“Jan (UCL) is Polish and will be responsible for both the community management and ethnographic coding for the Polish fora. That is unless he has to minimise his hours as he is a Professor and then we will be collaborating on engaging someone to support him.”

I think there is a good chance that he, and others at his level if they too plan on doing this work, will indeed need to engage someone to support, which really means do some of the work itself. If so, and if we have just one training, how would those support people get trained?

Line 4 in the budget shows:
Create and maintain four online fora in: Polish, Czech, Serbian and English.
Noemi, John + 4 case community managers (UCL, UB, CUNI - no PMS with some slack)

How do you see that broken out? 6 ways evenly or something else? And is a “case community manager” a kind of overseer, since we are to recruit and train 12 CMs? (from the Doc, “Train 12 community managers who, between them, can cover the four POPREBEL languages. From each partner university we are going to get a scientist in charge”).

Where is the budget for the 12? Or maybe it’s 8 since there are 4 case community managers? Shouldn’t that be on line 5? Sorry for my confusion, but the doc says 12 and I only see 4 (+ Noemi and me) listed in a line that has funding.

Understand your confusion as things are evolving and what was proposed is being adapted based on interdependent factors.

For now here and your community management working document with my comments are the most up to date (also, I’d prefer we keep budget line details off public fora, although of course I understand why you were referencing it for sense making). Many of your questions are best discussed in the call I’ve been trying to schedule with Noemi and you. Nonetheless I will create a consolidated list of all this for clarity and simplicity tomorrow after the next meeting, and we can discuss further here and in our call.

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I erased the numbers in that comment. I can erase the whole thing if you prefer, esp since you know the questions.

No worries at all @johncoate and thanks for that!

As mentioned in riot, all is going very well with community management and ethnographic partner teams and I believe we are very well placed. I am in the middle of a full day of meetings and will do a post within this thread tomorrow with an update and some questions for you @noemi @johncoate @amelia. Jan (UCL), Maria (CUNI) and Isadora (BE) as well as their research assistants Jiri (CUNI) and Maya (BE) will then be joining us in this thread to continue the conversation and planning. More tomorrow.

I will be afk the rest of today (helping my daughter move) and much of tomorrow, but will be back over the weekend and next week. (Family event in the mts - many hour drive Friday, but good connectivity when i get there).

Update following meeting with Jan (UCL), Maria (CUNI) and Isidora (UBFF)

We had a delightful and productive meeting at UCL Thursday and everyone is enthusiastic about the collaboration and confident that we can do this

I gave a refresher on each Task and then ran through the role descriptions which were very helpful. Next step will be getting them onto this thread for dialogue and planning, and based on your request a call between them and you @noemi and @johncoate. This may take a moment to coordinate but there is commitment. I’ll start by an email which you @noemi @johncoate and @amelia will be included in.

With plenty of healthy questions, Jan, Maria and Isidora are confident that with your training they have the skills required for both the community management and ethnographic coding tasks. As some background, Jan is an anthropologist and Professor / Chair in Political Science; Maria is a lecturer in cultural and political memory and curator; and Isidora is a sociologist and Associate Professor (you can read their biographies towards the end of the proposal, just search their names). Maria and Isidora have a research assistant each that they will oversee doing the community management and ethnographic coding work, whom they also believe fit the skills required. For Maria it will be Jurka and for Isidora it will be Maya. From the little I heard these two are very exciting in their own right - I’ve asked them to share CVs so you can be assured of the fit. As mentioned elsewhere, pending your agreement Noemi and John, I’ve moved some budget around so that @natalia_skoczylas can collaborate with Jan on Polish community management.

Keeping in mind that I had already had to negotiate down during the submission process, I raised your concerns @noemi and @johncoate about the sub-fora community management really requiring 20% and not 10% of someone’s time (1day/ week) and indeed their response was what I had shared with you… The conversation and SSNA insights form a part of their research, and the spill/ crossover is strong. Jan for example will be treating reading the conversation like he would reading articles and book chapters to inform his research. So like me, they believe that they can have enough time to do this. The main question was getting super clear on how this time would look, seeing as they have multiple obligations such as teaching etc… I said that you would explain more but from what I understand they should really allow an average of 30mins-1hr per day to keep on top of the conversations; that it will fluctuate based on when the outreach workshops happen, or there are particular events; and that they will need to be responsive to when conversations need attention considering the populist subject matter. On this, they did raise a great point which is about some kind of escalation of warning system for when conversations get tricky. No doubt you already have this in mind but wanted to share their question about how that would look here.

Speaking of training and resources, as mentioned elsewhere, we propose that the community management training occurs before or after the kick off meeting in the week of 14 January 2019. This is based on the fact we can save on travel costs as well as the very limited availability of Jan and Maria (they also feel it will be good to have time to wrap their heads around it before the platform goes live). I figured you already have the training model ready and there is sufficient time to adjust. We will be given access to a room at UCL for it. Can this timing work your end @noemi and @johncoate ?

Otherwise, there were some other questions that I summarise here:

  • Can they have access to the Academy courses?
  • Can @amelia you please share some background references on online ethnography so they can begin to get across it?
  • Can they have a clearer understanding of the timeline aside from the platform will go live in month 2. I’ll be raising this with @nadia in terms of outreach and engagement but we’d all appreciate, in time of course, being clearer on your internal milestones (noting that we all have the external milestones written into the proposal).
  • Related to this, can you please share the “recruitment” steps and timeline you’d like for making sure you’re comfortable with the teams (eg. a coding test, a draft post)?

Confirming that at this stage the teams look as follows…

Community management

  • Overarching leadership, training/ mentorship, English language fora: @noemi and @johncoate
  • Polish language fora: Jan (UCL) and @natalia_skoczylas
  • Czech language fora: Maria and Jurka (CUNI)
  • Serbian/ Croatian/ Bosnian/ Montengrin language fora: Isidora and Maya (UBFF)

Ethnographic coding

  • Overarching leadership, training/ mentorship, English language coding, multilingual coding ontology: @amelia
  • Polish language coding: Jan (UCL)
  • Czech language coding: Maria and Jurka (CUNI)
  • Serbian/ Croatian/ Bosnian/ Montengrin language coding: Isidora and Maya (UBFF)
  • Multimedia coding ontology: @meta (TANTLab, Aalborg)

So hope that answers a bunch your end. Let me know how else I can support.

Hi anique, thanks for the update.

I’m a little bit concerned about having the same people doing both the community management and the coding for two reasons— first, time (it’s a lot to take on) and second, that means we now have to standardise codes across 6 people instead of 4, which is a significant increase in complexity, and also means that we have 2 languages where there are 2 coders, and 2 where there are only 1 (if I understand correctly) with the potential for 3 languages to have 2 coders if Jan gets overwhelmed. For piloting a new method I feel this is introducing more complexity than is necessary and may make our work more difficult.

It seems to make more sense to me, instead of splitting community management in half between prof and RA and also splitting ethno coding in half between prof and RA, each taking one task. But that can be an ongoing conversation— this is just one solution I can see off the top of my head.

What are your thoughts, @noemi and @johncoate?

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So the community managers are set, from what I see here. So no recruiting necessary or apparently a need to vet them. That saves a lot of time, if I am correct. And as I understand it, we will convene in London in January for a meeting and training.

access to the academy courses.
I don’t think the courses are exactly set up for just reading, at least not at this point. There is the website with the videos and I think some of the webinar we did in July. That link is:
Edgeryders Academy
We are still crafting the training and it will need some tailoring to this project. Meanwhile, besides looking at the webpage, I suggest they download and read the “Online Community Toolkit” which will give them a good overview of how to approach the work. Here is the link:
Edgeryders Academy – Google Drive

As for doing double duty as a CM and ethnographer, my first take was “gee that is a lot of work,” especially if the hope is realized that the discussions will be lively, active and strong with well considered comments. I’m not experienced enough about the code standardising to say too much about that…but again, looks like a lot of work.

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Thanks dears!

I dont think we can realistically expect more than background readings and some familiarity with the platform ahead of the training, which really is OK.
Between January and February/ March I think we will set up together with community managers a list of routines to be prepared to follow, at a minimum, based on the Social contract for the community which we anyway need to deliver formally.

Also during those months I foresee there will be translation and adaptation of engagement copy needed.

Overall, during those first months we will all get our heads around the strategy and how to convey the project narrative to local communities - in online/offline engagement.

Like @amelia and @johncoate I am very skeptical of mixing the two roles - I cannot emphasize enough that community management is not about just reacting to content that magically comes in, it is about the extra effort (aside from just reading the posts) to understand the contexts from which people are coming from. It comes with hosting community calls, preparing them and following up with writeups. It is a lot of writing too to sum up where the community and conversation converges.
There is a big risk of dissipation if someone is not on it all the time.
To give you an example - if I will be attached to the project 4 hours a week I cannot just set 4 hrs Monday morning in my calendar to catch up on my reading. I need to spread those hours across the week to be in the pulse of the community. That means more attention goes into it, on a consistent basis.

I don’t see it in the spreadsheet?

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Hi all, absolutely hear your concerns.

I’ve moved ahead on introducing you all to the our partners in an email so we can open the conversation up, including finding a resolution for the division of community management and ethnography roles.

I’m encouraging them to get here on the platform to continue the conversation but keep an eye out in your email also.

@noemi perhaps you’re looking at the wrong budget as it was indeed added, the working one is in the POPREBEL folder under Finances.