What does Esmeralda from Disneys The Hunchback of Notre and Antiope from DC's Wonder Woman(the comic book version) have in common? They are two awesome women who started communities after noticing that the people in their hometowns are overlooked and ignored. Sometimes, you have to create a solution to see change. I know it's intimidating at first but its worth it in the end. If you're interested in starting an online community, you've come to the right place. Grab a snack, or your favorite drink, and join me as I share five 5 important lessons I have learned from creating an online community.
Like most things in life, you have to find your why. As cliche as this sounds, finding a reason for wanting to create this community helps you think of ways to organize it, how promote it, and ultimately solve the problem you want to speak out. For me, I decided to create Open Source Queens after receiving positive feedback on a viral discussion post where I questioned why women and non-binary-founded open source projects are not being promoted as much as ones founded by men. I wanted to create a place where womxn can share content about their experiences as open source contributors, maintainers, and project founders. Now hold on, defining your community's purpose is only one part of creating an online community. The next step requires a bit more focus, so drink some water, roll up your sleeves, and
While it's true that the people are what makes a community successful, having the right website that suits your community's purpose is just as important. Think of it as buying a laptop that would help with things like taking online classes, doing your coding projects, or watching the latest episode of Swarm on Amazon Prime. When picking an online platform, here are some factors that you should consider:
Familiarity among the people
Cross-browser and device compatibility
When I was picking platforms to start Open Source Queens, I decided to pick daily.dev because they fit those criteria as well as having guidelines that ensure the safety of users and that the content being posted is high-quality. Oh wait, theres more. As they say Rome was'nt built in a day so there are some things you need to know when starting an online community.
A wise man once said, With great power comes great responsibility.(R.I.P Uncle Ben from Spiderman) While sitting on your throne, I mean computer chair, and observing peoples comments or creating their posts is cool, interacting with other members is so much more fun When I received my first group member, I went to her article, read it, and shared my response to her discussion question. A couple of minutes later, other members started sharing their responses to her question. Seeing the conversation grow was enjoyable and made me feel like my mission for Open Source Queens is being achieved. Ok before I start crying, lets move on to how to stay consistent.
I'm going to be honest. When you create an online community, you tend to make decisions that can impact a members experience, and thats not always easy. One time, I was scrolling through Open Source Queens and saw a post that had a link to an article. When I clicked on the link and saw the profile pic, I noticed it showed a picture of a male-presenting individual. At first, I hesitated to comment because I didn't want to make the user feel embarrassed, but then I thought to myself, "You started this space to center womxn's voices. How would it look if you didn't stay true to that mission? So, I took a deep breath and gently asked the original poster for their gender to make sure that the community's mission wasn't being compromised. She thanked me for the reminder and clarified that the article was written by her and that the male-presenting person shared it in another community on daily.dev. It felt great to see her receptiveness toward my feedback because it showed that I was creating a wonderful experience. So, here's my advice to you: if you're thinking about starting an online community, be prepared to make tough decisions. But remember, the most important thing is to stay true to your mission and create a space where everyone feels welcome and respected.
As corny as it sounds, closed mouths truly do not get fed. Online communities do not grow by not keeping it to yourself. What has been helping me grow Open Source Queens is:
Writing about it on Twitter.
Mentioning it in audio spaces about increasing diversity in the open source community.
Sharing the invitation link in Slack and Discord communities that focused on helping womxn start their careers in tech.
All in all, people crave to be in a community with each other, so why not feed them?
Well, there you have it folks - 5 important lessons I learned from creating an online community. Whether it's Meta, Twitter, or any other site, creating an online community is a wonderful yet challenging journey. Speaking of journeys, if you want more updates on my path into coding, follow me on Hashnode. Also, if you need a comrade in your journey, don't hesitate to contact me via Linkfree. Id love to connect with you and hear your story! 😊 Now, go forth and build! 😊
Captain Marvel GIF by Marvel Studios
Image by studiogstock on Freepik
Holly Logan GIF by Holly Logan
Move On Ok GIF by Rosanna Pansino
Seatown Services GIF by Seatown Services
Woody Harrelson Oscars GIF by The Academy Awards
Work Demanding GIF by HannahWitton