In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting organisms sharing an environment. In cyber terms, a community is still a group of interacting organisms, the only difference is that the environment is virtual. That brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Since I’ve been in the role of Community Manager here at SitePoint, I’ve been trying to find ways to tackle the problems that have been hounding us (namely spam and fluff) while at the same time implementing things that will tie us together as a community. This month has been a great one for me because I’ve seen two of what I consider to be my most exciting projects to date come to fruition.
If you’re a relative newcomer to the SitePoint Community, the title of this post may be slightly confusing. By way of explanation I need to talk high fashion for a moment. Several years ago we ran a T-shirt competition over at the SitePoint forums. The response was overwhelming and we ended up with not one, but two fantastic T-shirts. There was a navy one for the geeks, bearing the words eat, sleep, code. For the slightly less geeky there was a SitePoint orange version featuring the words eat, sleep, design. We have worn those shirts with pride, but with mine looking more sky-blue than navy these days, it’s time to say goodbye to that old favourite and look for something new.
So that’s what I’m doing. I am super excited about the community T-shirt competition that we’re running. With one week remaining in the competition there is still plenty of time to head over to 99Designs and take part. There’s US$500 up for grabs for the winning t-shirt design. If designing is not your thing, then stay posted because you will get your chance to have a say in who takes out the prize. Because this shirt is going to be worn by members of the SitePoint Community I want the community to decide on the winner. I will be selecting what I consider to be the top 5 entries and taking them to the forums for polling. Keep your eyes on News and Announcements next week if you want to vote.
So that is the project that I hope helps to tie us together as a community. The other spike in my two pronged approach is getting rid of the low quality posts. A while back I blogged about the new post quality guidelines that we set in order to try and do something about swinging the signal-to-noise ratio back in our favour. In case you missed it, here it is again.
We encourage you to participate in the community, but please strive to ensure each post you make is:
Meaningful — say something of substance
Relevant — on topic and helpful, not generic advice
New — something that hasn’t already been said in the thread
It’s all well and good to have guidelines, but unless they are properly enforced, then they may as well not exist. I concede that things were getting out of control and one way to deal with that in a forum is to throw more moderators at it. That comes with its own set of issues however, so we decided to take a new approach. Introducing: The Fluff Button. With a name like The Fluff Button you might be forgiven for laughing at it, but this little baby has the power of a superhero – and that’s exactly what it is – so spammers and link droppers beware. Our moderators now have the power to deal with low quality posts with one click of a button – making the SitePoint forums a much more enjoyable and valuable place for you to hang out at.
Hot Topics This Week
We’re super excited to be launching two new courses over the next couple of months. If you think you might be interested in taking part in PHP Live or CSS Live! then head over to News and Announcements and find out the details.
In the PHP forum they are discussing the merits of PHP 5 and the advantages of no longer being limited by needing to support PHP 4. Why not stop by and have your say?
In the lead up to our new CSS Live! course we’ve gotten a bit carried away and are giving away our all 8 of our crash course CSS videos free for 7 days only. Find out more in News and Announcements.
There is an interesting thread about digital download security going on in Just Starting Your Design.
One that caught my eye this week is a thread in Social Networking and Communities discussing using your company name in your forum username. I know how I feel about that – do you have an opinion?
That will do from me for the week. Don’t forget to check out that t-shirt design comp.
Feature image by Chris Roberts from Digital Precision