Please Vote for Our SXSW 2016 IdeaSouth by Southwest is a great event. Well-organized with a seemingly limitless number of experiences available to you. It’s a lot of fun to speak at, and I’m hoping to do so again in 2016.

This year, I teamed up with Scott Moore on a proposal. Scott is an online community veteran that I respect. His knowledge is insanely deep, based on his 19 years in the space.

We want to talk about managing online community volunteer programs. During the reddit issues this summer, the one issue that stood out, above all others, was how they were treating their volunteer moderators. Long term neglect led to a showdown where the moderators effectively shut down many of the most active communities on the platform.

Our Approach to the Topic

This issue isn’t unique to reddit. At the end of 2014, Forrester Research predicted that many companies would go back to managing branded communities, due to diminishing returns on Facebook and Twitter. The question of if and how to utilize volunteers is one that these companies must wrestle with.

Volunteer management is something that Scott and I have a long track record of doing successfully. When Scott was director of community development for, they had thousands of volunteers in various roles. I’ve directly managed hundreds of volunteers, in addition to having began in community as a volunteer myself.

Not everyone should have volunteers. Those that do might work with them in different ways. Volunteer moderators are common, but there are plenty of other ways that volunteers can aide your community efforts. Scott and I will discuss volunteer management models, labor laws and how to keep your community volunteers motivated.

Managing a volunteer program can be a lot of work, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you have as a community professional. There’s nothing better than a strong, tight-knit, supportive volunteer team. When done right, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Please Consider Voting

Scott and I would love to bring this to SXSW. If you’d like to see it, please consider voting for us on the SXSW PanelPicker. Thank you for your consideration.

Scott and I discuss the idea in the video below.