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Community Manager

Context

This practice applies mostly in the context of a volunteer-based Collaborative translation initiative, but it is particularly useful in contexts where the community of contributors is fairly large.

Problem description

It is hard to grow Collaborative translation communities and keep them functional without a bit of explicit facilitation.

Solution

Therefore, make sure your community has at least one Community Manager at all time. In particular, make sure you Appoint and Initial Community Manager right from the start.

The community manager's role is not so much to contribute content, as it is to make sure that others can contribute smoothly.

Typical interventions by community managers include:

  • Approving new users who register
  • Setting policies of acceptable behaviour, and adapting them to fit the current level of growth of the community
  • Help settle disputes
  • Inspire the community, for example, by launching Campaigns.


It's important to note that a community manager is not like a manager in a corporation, because he/she typically has no actual "line authority" over members of the community. Instead, he/she must rely on "moral authority", which typically has been acquired through months or years of recognized service to the community.

But even with such a moral authority, a community manager must be careful not to intervene too much, as it can alienate members of the community, as well as prevent the emergence of new leaders. Indeed, in a collaborative community leaders tend to emerge naturally to fill a void. Therefore if a handful of leaders seem to fill all those spaces, there is a risk that nobody will stand up to fill them.

Note also that community managers do not necessarily need to be translators. The skills required for managing and facilitating a community are often quite different from those needed for translation. In that sense, Community Manager supports Flexible Contributor Career Paths.

Links to related patterns

Real-life examples

  • Pretty much all successful collaborative peer-production communities have one or more community managers.