View parent Full Discussion (How can we create better discussions in the dev community?)

It's a lot of little things, perhaps once it's a bit more in the rear-view mirror, it will be easier to articulate. Here are some thoughts:

  • It's always easy to de-prioritize these things early on because early on is probably when they are least important. It's easy to only focus on growth and push this stuff, and you need to keep checking yourself.
  • Don't automatically pander to power . Power users, while awesome, are not always the archetype of the member, and the more you appease them, the less inclusive a community gets, inherently. Most power users are awesome, but they are already having an outsized impact, you need to cater to all users. We have some internal metrics about activity and we deliberately measure on logarithmic scales for individual contributions, so that we remember that these folks are not everyone.
  • Work really hard at this stuff. The easiest path is usually not the right one in a lot of cases in this regard. It's easy to grow or to get things done by losing focus on things like this, but you need someone in the room who wants to keep bringing core values up in conversations.

It really sucks when individuals have a bad experience, even when on average we create a pretty good experience. We don't dismiss these things anecdotes. Any opportunity to improve things so that fewer people have unfulfilling experiences is a big win.

For me, whether it's software engineering or community building, it's often a matter of keeping a few key issues in my head at all times to continuously ponder them so that I have a really good mental model worked out when it comes time to tackling a thing. Sometimes one of my teammates brings something up as an issue or potential feature and I'm like "Oh hell yes, I've been working this out in my head for months, let's do it"

Don't automatically pander to power . Power users, while awesome, are not always the archetype of the member, and the more you appease them, the less inclusive a community gets, inherently. Most power users are awesome, but they are already having an outsized impact, you need to cater to all users. We have some internal metrics about activity and we deliberately measure on logarithmic scales for individual contributions, so that we remember that these folks are not everyone.

Wow, really good point here. Never thought about this.

Am glad to hear that ya'll are keeping these things in mind early on and helping these values shape what you're building.

This is something I've thought about often when working for companies. At which point does culture get defined by leadership of an organization? As you pointed out in point one, it is often easy to overlook certain values in defining a culture in order to build and scale. But it is something you can't let go unchecked for too long.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts Ben!

The scaling part is definitely the really hard part. Our community is still pretty small. But in any case, it's the early focus that will define the whole community. I think Stack Overflow cares a lot about being more welcoming, but has a big hill to climb in that sense. Hacker News doesn't seem to have any interest in changing and that's also a reflection of the folks behind it, IMO.

Reddit is a complicated beast. It's kind of up to the individual moderators to define the experience and expectations. The company would have a hard time changing things significantly if it were their biggest concern in the world (and it kind of is). Because Reddit has so many dark corners, relatively tame communities like /r/programming seem not worth worrying about.

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