Steering a Community Space from Troubleshooting spot to a place for Engagement

My company has a Discourse community forum. It’s largely a support forum and support engineers monitor what gets posted there to help people use our product. However, we’d love to see this space as more than a destination for troubleshooting. I don’t believe that could happen overnight but I have some ideas about steering the space that way. At the same time, I don’t want to undermine the value it’s had as a troubleshooting space.

Here are some ideas:
1: Start using the forum summary emails option. We haven’t done this, but I think putting it in to practice now might be a little tricky in terms of allowing people to opt into receiving the emails. Anyone here ever navigated their way to enabling digests in an already established forum?

2: Partner with educational orgs who have approached us wanting more support by creating a channel for students. This would be pretty targeted, but I think it could be interesting and helpful to the community.

3: Sharing stuff from the forum over socials routinely.

I would love any insights, suggestions, or cautionary tales from those who have done something similar!

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Hey Audrey!

1: Start using the forum summary emails option. We haven’t done this, but I think putting it in to practice now might be a little tricky in terms of allowing people to opt into receiving the emails. Anyone here ever navigated their way to enabling digests in an already established forum?

I would look to see how to implement summary emails going forward, I’m not 100% sure if/how to do this in Discourse, @mcwumbly may be able to advise

2: Partner with educational orgs who have approached us wanting more support by creating a channel for students. This would be pretty targeted, but I think it could be interesting and helpful to the community.

I don’t have enough insight to comment on this, but finding ways to partner/collaborate is always good. I think it’s easy to fall into a trap of over designing something and would encourage you to think of the smallest thing you can to do experiment with this idea.

As you do things in a new way you’ll discover better ways to do them or the need to adjust.

With forums, I feel increasingly they are valuable but they are a super long game. It really does take time for things to work and gain traction. I think partly it’s because people need time to understand and feel what these spaces can be and as community managers we need to guide them, one post at a time.

I’m definitely guilty of trying to do too much at once too.

Things that I’m currently or wanting to push forward in this space:

  • Community Garden - a wiki type space for resources on community
  • Community Curriculum - a place to gather and log our work on the community curriculum we are creating
  • Forum Collective - we took notes during some events we hosted and posted draft outputs here
  • AMAs - I’d love to host some text based AMAs here

I guess one of my goals is to always be able to point someone somewhere to help them with challenges they have.

3: Sharing stuff from the forum over socials routinely.

Yes, I do this. Or expand on social messages as there is more room to do so.

Sometimes I do quick social posts and then realise I have more to say and I try to do it here.

I also post same questions here and on social and then afterwards I come back here to log the social posts and some of the interesting answers from social.

One of my goals here is to have a wonderful archive of information.

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I’m not sure if it’s in settings or if you have to do this from the command line, but there should be a way to default the digest emails per user to off. There are also settings for monthly or every six months – if you don’t want to default to off you could easily introduce the feature on a longer cadence than weekly.

Context: I used to work for Discourse and am extremely familiar with the platform. Happy to help in any way I can!

The idea coming to my mind right now is starting with a category and seeding it with some kind of conversation starters (similar to what @rosiesherry does in #community-chat). It would be a lower lift to experiment with at the least, and easy to hide/remove if it doesn’t work out.

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I absolutely needed to hear this. It’s what I feel, but I also want to make it move along.

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Such a nice idea. And something I feel like I can get started on with little initial “lift.” Thank you!

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I was away last week, but I’m happy to kick ideas around and answer general questions about how things work in Discourse.

Just to make sure I understand, are you talking about changing the default email digest frequency site setting? Have you had that set to never and now want to change it (e.g. to weekly)? Regarding the challenges of getting people to opt-in at this point, are you trying to reach people who have already been away for a while? Or people who are currently active on the forum occasionally?

Hi! I am very happy to see you chiming in, and sorry for taking some time to respond. What I see in settings for our Discourse is that under ‘settings’ > ‘email’, we have a box checked that is labeled “disable summary emails for all users” which I would love to uncheck.

We want users to be reminded of the existence of our community and we want to encourage them to come back and engage when they have insights to share.

So, if I do uncheck that, I should expect to start seeing summary emails going out as defined on that page right? I’m worried about what the emails will look like in terms of the content shared. What options do I have to at least partially curate the digests?

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I’ll message you directly about the Discourse-specific stuff in case others here have more ideas in general to share about strategies for keeping folks engaged or getting them to reengage that aren’t specific to Discourse.

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