Over many years of helping build and support developer communities, Oppkey has identified key community building best practices. One key technique for helping a community grow and strengthen is to reward good contributions. This may seem obvious, but it’s not particularly easy. It takes three steps.
- Assessment of the value of the contribution for the community (not simple, done by human expert)
- Sending a small prize + badge. The small prize needs to be usable for international contributors
- Plus a thank you email that’s personal, not templated
In a recent exchange on theta360.guide, a thriving 360 degree camera community that Oppkey manages for our client RICOH, the community organizer Craig Oda was interacting with a community member who was testing the USB API extensively for construction work. The community member had found an API command which was extremely useful but not yet properly documented.
If the organizer doesn’t have an understanding of the API, the effort and knowledge the community member brings would not be appreciated.
If you’re poorly managing a community, you’re just looking at statistics. This user posted several times a year ago, and several times just now. Statistically, he does not maybe particularly stand out. But the contribution is large.
Next we contacted the user, explaining that the posts were really helpful, and we are appling our custom Community Thank You badge.
We also explained that we’d like to send a gift of thanks. Obviously, it’s not a lot of money, but maybe something that can be applied to more testing software or hardware. We confirmed that they could use an Amazon (US) gift card of $50.
Without a community manager who does not have domain knowledge and is paying attention to the main topics in the forum, this community building technique is not possible.