"Mum, would you rather be..." a voice chirps behind me. I shouder, knowing to well that this could be a very innocent would-you-rather question or one of those super hypothetical ones.
But what my kids have taught me by asking these questions is that we should regularly ponder what is normal and consider the crazy and impossible. These questions put the spot light on our assumptions and practices.
I'm presenting you with three what-if questions. They are inspired by another tweet about eliminating processes. I was forcing myself to take out standard processes in communities, those that maybe are considered best practices, and to imagine with what they could be replaced.
What if...we remove all traditional cues to identify other members?
Imagine this: You join an online community for writers, where fellow writers edit each other work, help develop ideas, support book plans, and collaborate on projects together.. Feel free to modify this and pick a community you are part of.
So far so good. Nothing strange here.
But then you read this set of rules:
- All members will be randomly assigned a movie character. Your name will be the name of that movie character and your profile picture will be the movie character. You could be any type of movie character: human, animal, fantasy creature. Everything that every spoke a line in any language in any movie.
- During events, all cameras remain off and the voice is distorted using AI.
You are not allowed to share any personal information about yourself in any channels.
- Community builders will never ask for that information.
- You are not allowed to ask any member about their background in private messages.
- If a member voluntary shares private information with you, you are not allowed to share it in the community or in a private message to a third party.
The goal is full anonymity. At the start every member will be faceless. Like an empty sheet of paper. What identity they will adopt depends solely on the interactions you have with them.
How would you feel about this? Will you be relieved that you can shed your old identity? Will you fumble awkwardly uncertain if this cloak of anonymity is safe? Will you frantically search for clues about gender and ethnicity?
But, most importantly: What would you do to build trust with others?
What if...we progressively increase how people can communicate?
Imagine this: You join a community, it's an investment club for people from your social class. You read the following rules:
- For the next seven days you can only interact using emojis. You can use whatever emoji you want. You don't have to use the same emoji. Be creative in your emoji-expression.
- On the 8th day, a member of the community will reach out to you. You will discuss
- What was your most used emoji and why?
- What are the communication norms of this community?
- What was the most interesting conversations you had?
- With whom did you interacted? With whom would you love to have a proper conversation?
- With whom would you rather not interact?
- What are some keywords or jargon the community uses?
- Was there a conversation you wished you could do more than just use emojis?
- Do you want to be able to write posts?
- After the 7th day, if you selected to have write permission, please go and introduce yourself in the read&write-permission channel
How would you feel about these rules? Would the restriction be liberating? How would you express yourselves? Would you find ways to add to the conversations beyond emojis?
What if...everyone is a moderator?
Your community introduced that everyone has to be a moderator for two weeks. That means doing tasks like posting about events and making announcements. Part of your tasks will also be to welcome new members, answer questions, and make sure all conversations remain civil and no-one feels excluded.
You are part of a group of moderators, spanning all time zones your members are part of. You have at least a 3 hour time zone overlap with another moderator who joined the community around the same time than you.
If you refuse to moderate without valid reasons (e.g., holidays, wedding, birth/adoption of child) you will have to leave the community. What is considered a valid reason is decided through a public proposal (vote)
Would you looking forward to your turn of moderating the community? Would you feel more committed to the community? Would you avoid certain channels or people fearing the consequences of having to interact with them?
What would you change in your community?