I think we will look back on the community industry in 10-15 years and chuckle at the limited community tooling we have available to us.
A response from Emily Laken (Head of Community at Patreon) to a comment I made about my frustration with lack of community tooling:
Oh man, tooling. Stuck between not enough headcount to support internal tooling and external vendors whose tools aren’t sufficient.
Source (on LinkedIn)
I don’t disagree. I wouldn’t be around in this industry still if I didn’t have an engineer at my side for the past ~4 years. Even spending large sums on a platform, you probably need an engineer even more in that case. I spoke with someone from our platforms leadership team a few weeks back (I get myself in trouble complaining), and while showing off their new updated platform for a half hour, my only feedback was still “so you aren’t introducing anything new” - To be fair, this is not the feedback other customers are necessarily providing to them, it’s 100% my POV. In reality, nobody is even trying to change the game, we keep rehashing the same stuff I ran as a literal child ~25 years ago. I can go install free SMF Forums still, and it works no different for all intents than what is running on here (Rosie.land) or what I am running for 6-figure enterprise platform.
In-house, we’re instead building our own Academy on top of it, building our own moderation tools to enhance the ~13 year old ancient way Khoros does it, having to tie together Khoros & Bevy because every platform is bad at looking at the user experience, etc etc.
I blame Community Managers more than anyone for this happening - I’m again speaking from my own POV, but CMs in general seem to be bad at focusing on the right things, which in turn has the platforms themselves constantly building half baked features that actual users could care less about. And when I say focus, I’m not saying we need yet another community reporting/analytics tool.
I really hope you’re right about this. I can definitely agree that current tooling leaves me wanting.
Are we going to figure out Federation in a way that does not destroy the user experience for 90% of people? Can we move beyond the sync/async dichotomy? Can we make our community tools feel more like real community, make them more engaging without the problems of “gamification” and social media’s ills? Here’s hoping.