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The Road To Community: Part One — Define
Community: We need it. While some of us decry it, many of us deeply value it. What does it mean to be “creating community” for a software company? What are our goals? How do we reach them? How do we measure success? How blurry do the lines get to be — between a support forum that facilitates learning and a social space that facilitates authentic connection? How do we engage you, dear user, so you’ll help us build the best product possible? What the hell does a Community Manager even do?
Wait — Let me take a breath. I’m jumping ahead of the game. Roll the rock back up the hill, let’s start over.
My name is Perry Eising, and I am the Community Manager at Netlify.
And I’m going to be very honest with you: I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t have the answers. (Maybe ask me in six months?)
But what I do have is good intentions — to build something amazing with you, namely an amazing, supportive Community. To learn in public and show you how we, at Netlify, want to translate the spirit that encourages us to raise the bar with our software into building a world-class Support Community. And that’s what this series of posts will be about. Sound good? Let’s go!
The Why Me and Why This
I want to unpack a little bit what I mean when I say “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I’ve been involved at the intersection between tech and community in many ways for years. I started as a developer in 1999, and changed over to an academic career that began a decade after that. I studied cultural anthropology and spent a lot of time thinking about culture on the internet.
After that, and before joining Netlify, I built student-facing programs at a couple of colleges, then taught at a code school for two and a half years. As a result, I am incredibly invested in creating learning environments that work. Asking questions, especially as a new user, can feel incredibly vulnerable. Many of us struggle with imposter syndrome — feeling like we don’t know enough.
I know what that experience is like, which is why, as Netlify’s Community Manager, it’s my primary goal to create a Support Community where everyone feels welcome.
Community @ Netlify
Can you imagine? It’s going to be so amazing! We already know we have the most excited, most dedicated, most effusive customers out there. A fact that delights us on a daily basis, and inspires us to keep working as hard as we do.
With a forum dedicated to facilitating peer support and collaboration, we will extend the approach and work ethic that many have come to know and love about our Support helpdesk through Community. At the same time, we get to learn from your discussions about how we could evolve and refine our products even further based on your experiences.
Community members will also be able to get to know each other on a personal level, self-organize, and have fun. I’m beyond excited to create a helpful, friendly, positive, engaged space where developers from all backgrounds and experiences can come together, engage, and share the #netlilove.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Thanks for sticking with me so far — I’m glad you’re still interested!
Now that I’ve told you a little about Community at Netlify, let me tell you a little more about this blog post series. All too often users only get to see only the finished product, and are unaware of how much time and effort we put into making decisions, or the way we balance sometimes conflicting concerns, or the compromises we occasionally have to make.
I’m sharing our road to Community with you with the hopes you’ll bring me your questions, your wisdom, your input, or even just your emoji! I look forward to taking you through our process from concept to launch.
In the next installment, we’ll start to get technical. I’ll be talking through which technical cornerstones are important to us when picking a community platform to use for our Support Community and why. We’re excited to see what is out there!