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Introducing the Mentors


#1

In the last few weeks you may have noticed that a few regular participants have started sporting a green badge - like this:
image

This is the “Mentor” badge, and I am very excited to officially launch the Mentor Team.

Mentor Team

From the very beginning of the community development by The Society, the plan was to involve members in the running of the community and make this truly “member-driven”.

All community members have the opportunity to moderate content - should that be required. Anyone can flag a post to report it for spam (which has yet to happen - this is such a well-run place), for being inappropriate, or for something else, such as miscategorisation or going off-topic, and then admins and moderators can see the flags and decide how to deal with it.

But helping to run a community is not just about the cleaning and policing, it is about sharing the culture and supporting each other.

This is already one of the friendliest and most interesting sites I’ve had the fortune to be involved with, but there’s always opportunity for even more.

The two areas we were most interested in developing were:

  1. a group of non-staff for members to be able to contact for advice and support, particularly for brand new arrivals who are unsure of how the community works
  2. a way to encourage a greater variety of topics for conversation driven by interests of participants - and clearly separated from any Society marketing plans

We decided to create “The Mentors” to fulfil this particular role.

The current group of mentors is:

This team is small, but formed of members who have a variety of backgrounds but knowledge of how the site works so we can provide advice and support. We can also fix certain issues (such as splitting or merging topics) without having to get the admin team to deal with it.

Each of the team may also take responsibility for encouraging certain topics. We won’t necessarily post about these all the time, but we will try to encourage others to write about these areas of interest so that we can keep this place as varied and interesting as possible.

The Future

This is currently a trial. In future the Mentor team might be expanded, or we might even find new ways to vary the membership and set it up so we take turns in the role. As the lottery likes to say, “It could be YOU!”

In any case, the idea is to increase the role of members in developing the content of the community, and so I’m very excited to have the support of a wonderful team.

If you want to speak to any of us about the role, or have any ideas and suggestions, you can either contact us personally or send us a group message by addressing it to @Mentor


#2

Perhaps it’s just me, but this looks like a solution to a problem that I’m not sure exists? A case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

The reason this community stands out for me is the lack of “spam” and the high quality of info and discussion posted - as you mention above the flagging of posts is yet to happen, and that after 31,600 posts is a testament to all involved.

On the two areas you were most interested in developing…

How will new arrivals know the mentors exist or who they are? I found the already existing brief tutorials very helpful on joining.

Over the last week there have been about 40 topics with comments added in that time-frame. About 30 were created by members that are not TWS staff, and there were well over 20 different creating authors. I’m not sure the community lacks diversity or frequency of topics - quality of topics is the key for me. Several wine forums have a low signal-to-noise ratio, this one stands out already as superior.

Please don’t take my comments as a criticism, I’m just interested to see how this community evolves over time. It’s going well from my perspective but I have a little unease about differentiating contributing members. However, I applaud those that have stepped up to be @Mentor and have adopted the “green man” badge; it reminds me of something… :wink:

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#3

Excellent questions and points!

Totally agree. The nature of the membership, and the restriction of the site to members, makes a HUGE difference here. But flagging content is not just about spam, it also about organisation.

As you point out, there have already been 31600 posts from having fewer than 1500 community members. What happens when that membership reaches 15,000 (still a fraction of total membership)? It will be harder to read all content, and while there may be little intentional error, it will be a lot of work for a small staff, so this creates a layer that doesn’t JUST report it but can actually fix things.

Again, good question. We will need to work on this. I plan to make suggested changes to the “onboarding” process and the messages all new members get, so they know who to speak to in addition to the admin team.

We may even create and monitor a dedicated area for asking certain questions (for when this place gets MUCH busier and these might get lost)

Excellent! I don’t think these get used as much as they should. They also need updating, so we can add more content here (though you are welcome to send your own copy)

It does not, … normally. There was a time we had a few too many “this is what I am drinking” posts, and the way @laura dealt with that has helped a lot already, clearing the way for more variety to appear.

Good! We’ve been working to make this happen for a couple of months already, so it is working without being ‘forced’ in any way :slight_smile:

Not at all! We love people to be involved enough to comment and add their thoughts. Hopefully I have settled your mind.

What do you think of the idea of a ‘rotating membership’ where this administrative role is shared amongst members? Maybe those who’ve achieved at least ‘Regular’ status and have been taking part for 6+ months (so they have experience to share)?


#4

Out of curiosity how long has this forum been running for?


#5

It started a year ago in April as a trial I believe before being rolled out to everyone though @robert_mcintosh can tell you exactly as he created it.


#6

I have seen that work well elsewhere, though I’m sure you were thinking it would be by agreement. I think that a sort of private board for the mentors/admin, for the sole purpose of technicalities might be worth considering at some point, if work gets busy. Though to be fair, the only place I saw that one years ago was an international forum, where it was used to ensure that someone would be around 24hrs. per day.


#7

We set it up in April 2017 as a test site, but it was only available to us for setting up the registration process at the time.

The first invitations to members for the test group went out at the end of July or so. It officially went “live” towards the end of the year (October?) when we made it so anyone could sign up even if we didn’t promote it heavily at the time


#8

We have one … but it’s private :wink:


#9

Well, you beat me to it then!


#10

Well that doesn’t make be feel quite so much of a newbie now :smiley:


#11

Nothing about the mentors, but as I was in at the start of the forum I have seen it grow.
The net is full of forums that simply get to big and referring back to an item one often gives up as they move on rapidly with so many posts.
You are anticipating a big increase in participation, in principal that is good but to stop a huge unending thread perhaps the segregation into categories might have to be enforced a lot more and not be able to post everything under “drinks chat” for example as other blogs do, just looking ahead !
Already some threads disappear very quickly through lack of comment but that does not mean they are not read as looking at the viewing numbers shows, many are the most interesting and have the highest number of clicks.
Or you could have a sidebar with the most popular current threads, as again other blogs do which saves having to scroll down days for the one you are looking for, again not because it isn’t read but through lack of comments.


#12

I would argue that this is already working reasonably well -

Yes, there are a lot of posts in Drinks Chat, but then there is a lot of drinks chat :slight_smile:

You actually already have two options here:

  1. sort the home page (or any topic list page) by views by clicking on the “views” column heading

  2. Click on the “Top” link in the navigation above (after Latest and New) and this will allow you to see the list of most popular pots measured by more than replies (includes unique views, reading time, etc.)


#13

I think this is all coming at the right time. It’s been great seeing the gradual increase in traffic on here over the last year, but seeing the responses to the writing competition that was posted a few days ago just highlights how much this Community could still grow. The competition seems to have really drawn a crowd, as there are so many new names in that thread! If a few of those stick around, and tell a friend or two, we could have so many more regulars on board that would make it very tough for @Laura and her colleagues to manage. Using the members to help support the Community makes a lot of sense. Great choice on the first 4 as well! :+1:


#14

Even if we do look like Yoda :rofl:


#15

You are not wrong though what comes up does not show reading time and is that relevant, one long post and…and as with other items people have queried in the past about the site maybe a less convoluted way of presentation could eventually be worked out, I am only looking at this for when you do get your anticipated growth on here, sometimes simpler is better.
And whilst I fully understand the point about drinks chat, a number of items are not about drinks and perhaps should be moved or put in a different category, but I think people want to read, naturally, and put items in the drinks thread anyway.
As I have said I have no real problem with the blog now but in the future…only trying to help :wink:


#16

Well, sure, but it conveys a notion of wisdom at least :wink:

I’d definitely have to change my avatar if I ever became a mentor - my eldest would be completely Yodafied (it’s definitely a word)


#17

"Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Mentors. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Mentor must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Mentor craves not these things. You are reckless.”


#18

I’ll stick with Kierkegaard…! :face_with_monocle:


#19

Your own avatar looks delightful, Leah, but the green addition looks more like Jabba the Hutt than Yoda.


#20

Hmm… I hate to be a voice of dissent in a well meaning community - and I appreciate that you are all lovely people. But surely there is a conflict of interest in TWS staff being badge wearing ‘Mentors’ ? … it is only a short step then until the ‘Mentor’ starts a thread, monitors a thread and then feeds it to keep it turning over - somewhat self serving?

And the word ‘Mentor’ - do we need mentoring due to some deficiency ? is some guru in TWS towers going to help me be a better informed consumer / social media poster’ ? (or whatever the social media jargon is)

My final soft criticism is the whole notion of the green badge. It is a uniform, a badge - and that rings all the warning bells.