DEV Community

Cover image for Building Thriving Communities: Strategies for New Community Managers
Christina Gorton
Christina Gorton

Posted on • Originally published at

Building Thriving Communities: Strategies for New Community Managers


Embarking on the journey of community management in spaces like open-source communities or platforms like Discord or Discourse brings unique challenges and opportunities. Often, community management is seen as synonymous with social media management.

While both fields involve engaging with audiences, community management in these spaces requires a nuanced approach. In this blog post, we'll explore the distinct dynamics of community management, offering the top 10 tips for new community managers to thrive in online environments.

Tip #1: Establish Clear Guidelines:

Community Guidelines

Lay the foundation for a healthy community by creating clear and concise guidelines. Clearly communicate the expectations for behavior, contribution, and collaboration within the community. This not only sets the tone but also helps in managing expectations and avoiding conflicts.

Examples of communities with clear guidelines are:

Salesforce Trailblazer Community:

Guidelines Overview:
Salesforce's Trailblazer Community provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for community members. These guidelines emphasize the values of respect, collaboration, and inclusivity.

Key Points:

  • Be Respectful: Members are encouraged to treat each other with respect, acknowledge diverse perspectives, and maintain a positive tone in discussions.
  • Collaborate and Share Knowledge: The community emphasizes the importance of collaboration and knowledge-sharing to help members grow and succeed in their Salesforce journey.
  • Adhere to Community Principles: Salesforce outlines specific principles that include refraining from spam, avoiding inappropriate content, and respecting intellectual property rights.

Link: SalesForce Success Guidelines

GitHub Community:

Guidelines Overview:

GitHub, a platform for collaborative software development, has clear community guidelines to ensure a positive and constructive environment for developers.

Key Points:

  • Be Inclusive: GitHub encourages an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute and feel welcome. Discrimination or harassment is strictly prohibited.

  • Respectful Communication: Members are expected to communicate respectfully, fostering a culture of constructive feedback and collaboration.

  • Follow Contribution Guidelines: GitHub provides specific guidelines for contributing to open-source projects, ensuring a standardized and effective collaborative process.

Link: GitHub Community Guidelines

These examples demonstrate the importance of setting clear expectations for community behavior and interaction. Guidelines help create a positive and collaborative atmosphere, ensuring that community members can engage effectively and respectfully.

Tip #2: Encourage Collaboration:

Foster a collaborative environment by emphasizing the importance of teamwork. In platforms like open-source communities, collaboration is at the core of success. Encourage contributors to work together, share ideas, and actively participate in discussions.

The Open Source Guides: Building Welcoming Communities is a great resource to learn more about creating a space for collaboration.

Tip #3: Facilitate Effective Communication:


Communication is pivotal in online communities. Utilize the communication tools provided by the platform, such as forums or Discord channels, to facilitate open and transparent discussions.

Given the nature of online interactions, where nuances like tone and body language are absent, it's crucial to be mindful of how messages may be perceived.

Strive for clarity and considerate language to avoid misunderstandings. Ensure that important information is easily accessible and well-organized, fostering an environment where members feel comfortable expressing themselves while minimizing the potential for misinterpretation.

Ways to create clear communication in your online communities:

Clearly Defined Channels:

Example: Establish specific channels or forums for different topics or types of discussions. For instance, create separate channels for general discussions, technical support, and off-topic conversations. This helps members find and participate in discussions relevant to their interests.

Regular Announcements:

Example: Implement a routine for making important announcements. Whether it's weekly updates, feature releases, or community highlights, consistent communication keeps members informed about the latest developments and fosters a sense of transparency.

Responsive Moderation:

Example: Ensure that community moderators actively monitor discussions and respond promptly to member inquiries or concerns. Acknowledge contributions, address questions, and guide discussions to maintain a positive and engaging atmosphere.

Regular Q&A Sessions:

Example: Host live question-and-answer sessions with community leaders, experts, or special guests. This provides an opportunity for members to interact in real time, seek advice, and engage in meaningful conversations.

Feedback Loops:

Example: Establish mechanisms for collecting feedback from community members. This can include surveys, polls, or dedicated feedback threads. Use insights gained to make improvements and ensure that the community aligns with the needs and preferences of its members.

Community Guidelines Reinforcement:

Example: Periodically remind members of community guidelines and expectations. For instance, share a weekly "Tip of the Week" highlighting a specific guideline or best practice. Reinforcing guidelines helps maintain a positive and respectful community culture.

Tip #4: Provide Regular Updates:

Keep your community informed about ongoing projects, updates, and changes. Regularly share updates on the community platform, whether it's about upcoming features, bug fixes, or general announcements. This helps in keeping community members engaged and informed.

Creating regular Changelogs is a great way to keep your community up-to-date.

A Beginner’s Guide to Git — What is a Changelog and How to Generate it

Tip #5: Empower Community Leaders:

Identify and empower community leaders who can assist in moderating and guiding discussions. In open-source communities, this may involve recognizing key contributors. In Discord or Discourse, consider appointing moderators who can help maintain a positive and organized environment.

Tip #6: Facilitate Knowledge Sharing:

Encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise within the community. Platforms like Discourse are excellent for creating knowledge bases. Foster a culture where community members feel comfortable sharing their experiences, insights, and solutions.

Tip #7: Acknowledge and Reward Contributions:

Recognize and appreciate the contributions of community members. Whether it's code contributions in open-source projects or active participation in discussions, acknowledgment reinforces a sense of community and motivates contributors to continue their engagement.

In your open-source projects, you can use tools like or Open Collective to generate a contributors list and display an image on your ReadMe.

Tip #8: Host Regular Events or Discussions:

Create opportunities for community members to come together, whether through live discussions, webinars, or virtual meetups. This fosters a sense of belonging and provides a platform for real-time interaction, enhancing the community experience.

Many communities set up “Office Hours” where members can pop in and communicate with leaders in the space.

Tip #9: Address Concerns Promptly:

Actively monitor discussions and address concerns or conflicts promptly. Open-source communities, in particular, thrive on a positive and constructive atmosphere. Timely intervention can prevent minor issues from escalating and maintain a healthy community dynamic.

Tip #10: Facilitate Onboarding for New Members:

Streamline the onboarding process for new members by providing clear documentation and resources. In open-source projects, this may involve creating contributor guides. In Discord or Discourse communities, ensure that newcomers have access to essential information to ease their integration. Check out Discord’s Community Onboarding guide to see the best way to onboard new members. 


Managing online communities in platforms such as open-source, Discord, and Discourse can be challenging. However, with the right set of skills and strategies, you'll be able to foster collaboration, facilitate communication, and create a positive and thriving environment.

Top comments (1)

ericbae profile image
Eric Bae

Nice one. Thanks for the tips. I've been part of a few online communities as a moderator and building and maintaining a high quality community is definitely a long play. As a model community, I always look at HackerNews as an example and also recently found a tool called HN+ which lets you run a similar community yourself. For many community owners, it's also a question of how actively you grow + promote your community until it hits that critical mass. Good luck to all!