Boards.ie is the largest community website in Ireland with nearly 200,000 members and 1.35 million unique visitors per month. Boards.ie is ten years old this year - having started out as a Quake gamers forum - and is now one of Ireland's largest websites. In September 2008 they had over 1.7 million unique visitors. (ABC Electronic Audit Figures)
From their job advertisement in December 2008:
Every day thousands of Irish people come onto boards.ie to read content, to voice their opinion, to place ads, to interact with their friends, to buy items, to blog, to chat, to engage with other of similar niche interests etc.Yesterday evening it was announced that the position had been filled. Tom Murphy, co-founder of Boards.ie announced the appointment to the board's senior moderators and moderators in a frank but positive post. He explained the origin of the role and his personal thoughts on what the appointment could mean for the site:
We are recruiting our first full-time community manager to make sure that all these daily activities happen smoothly and that members are satisfied with the service.
We are looking for logical thinkers with the ability to facilitate community discussion with fairness and impartiality. This is a unique opportunity to work with the most fantastic web community in Ireland.
What are we looking for?
- Expert experience in working in a online community environment
- A mature, level headed, pragmatic person
- Expert communications and facilitation skills
- A Boards.ie member would be the icing on the cake
We've finished the process of hiring our Community Manager position which has been a long and unexpectedly difficult road. We had a flood of CV's for the position of Community Manager and our understanding of what we wanted changed... As we got into the process we realised we wanted the Swiss Army Knife of employees. The list of requirements was laughably long and impossible to find in a single person...In a move previously unconsidered to the Boards.ie team, they decided to take the original position and divide it between two people - one, a respected member of Boards who has been there for ten years and is known by many in his capacity of Senior Moderator and social event organiser.
... the ComMans primary modus operandi will be the exception handling. Supporting the Smods/Mods with official feedback on the tricky stuff when requested. Also to work on the stuff we all want to see, the aspirational stuff, the stuff we'll just never get done because we are focused on fixing day to day problems. It's time we started looking at the month to month things too. The things that we all want to see but aren’t screaming, on fire or trying to sue us.
They are here to strengthen that chain of communication and and provide a certain guaranteed level of official response. They will operate outside the normal run of the mill which is working very well up to and including the SMods. Their job will be more a "special circumstances" response team.
The appointment of Davitt Waldron (Dav) is both an acknowledgement of the wealth of experience and depth of knowledge he has, plus a sign to both mods and Smods who do the job voluntarily that the Boards.ie team is committed to supporting their roles and making their work easier.
The other person - a fresh eye on Boards.ie with a primary objective to ask and understand why things are done the way they are and to see if processes can be changed, improved or tightened to the benefit of all involved is me. Woo! :)
Before applying for the role in early January and during the interview process I'd been giving a lot of thought to why I felt I should apply. While many of the requirements did apply to me
What type of a person are you?the thought of being answerable to an active community - one I wasn't a member of - of over 55,000 members weekly, never mind the management team was somewhat daunting.
- You really enjoy helping others achieve their aims
- You are not quick to judge but are steadfast in your ethics and fairness
- You understand that everyone is different and their opinion is exactly that
In fairness though I do have considerable online community management experience, beginning in 1999 with Unison.ie, continuing through over three years with Pigsback.com in Ireland and the UK and on to Casino.com in Spain and then to advising NoNonsense.ie.
Add to this the personal-community aspect of maintaining a blog, the editing and brand guardianship with roles at Vodafone Live! and Barretstown and even the Customer Service and process configuration aspects of UCI, Xtra-vision and subsequent roles, I'd imagine all this experience gives me, as I said in a previous post, a fairly unique skillset to apply to such a role.
While I'm joining an established site and community, the actual company structure is quite compact. Dav and I as community managers will be working with Ross as lead developer, Tom and the other founders as advisors with technical staff joining as well. This actually gives us scope to expand our roles as necessary without the limitation of existing legacy practices taking precedence.
It's a role I'm looking forward to starting. Though I've only met Dav and Tom the once so far, their enthusiasm, passion and commitment to boards bodes well while their willingness to take seriously into consideration my questions, suggestions and based-on-intuition-more-than-boards-experience is an indication of how much potential there could be to ensure our roles reach their maximum effect.
It's funny - I went from forums to blogs and now back to forums. It almost certainly means I won't be blogging as much, but the possible content, ideas and conversations prompted and provoked by this new-to-me community is also a treasure trove I look forward to exploring.
Reaction from the moderators has been extremely enthusing so far. While questions have been asked as to what we'll be doing, the overwhelming sense is one of "Cool, let's see what will happen." Something I'm looking forward to finding out too.