How Do You Increase Your Participation in (Tech) Communities?

45,000 views. 3 comments.

One of the most major problems in community organization in Ethiopia is participation. Events suffer with very few interested participants, online forums are without topics and topics are without discussions. Blogs can achieves high views, but less comments.

Recently, we prepared great event on Android, from 250 invitations only 65 registered. From the registered participants – even at the last minute confirmation – 45 came to the event. This is not my first experience with community events. In one occasion, from all confirmed 18 participants (Notably, University instructors), none of them came to the event. So what is the problem?

I want to address this issue from the participants side instead of the event organizers – since this problem mostly existed from confirmed participants – rather than poor marketing strategies

Here are few points how to increase your participation.

Find your interest: In most cases, participants want to go for every event available but at the end not sure where to go and what do afterwards. You can only be active participant if you have huge interest on the topic. Finding your interest is the basic concept to push you out of your bed and go to the event on Saturday morning. If you don’t find your interest, it is less likely that you will enjoy the event/community in the first place.

Understand the community: What is the set-up behind the community? what are the goals? what does your participation contributes? if you miss some days, what are you possibly losing? what do the community, online forum benefit from you? Trying to answer such questions help you to understand the community and how important your participation is.

Identify the Benefits: If you don’t see the benefit of the event, it is high likely that you will choose drinking coffee with a friend instead. Most people measure the benefits in terms of money and incentives (lunch, t-shirts, media coverage etc). In most cases, it is not possible to generate money just participating in the community or commenting on a blog entry. Your benefit is measured on how many network you can establish, contacts you make, and pushing your ideas. usually the benefit of participating in community has long term benefits – can even be money-wise.

Plan: Planning is very important to schedule your priorities. Last minute plan cancellation only shows your incompetence and unpunctuality. Event organizers only expect you to come after your confirmation. If you already not sure coming, you don’t need to confirm. If you are not sure of contributing something on the tech forum, don’t need to sign up.

Trust: Community event organizers most likely don’t get what you usually believe they do. Sponsors give limited amount of money and audit it afterwards. In most cases, the organizers are the one who usually pay the pit cash. Trusting the community you are in is very critical for your active participation. If you suspect, corruption or unfair personal recognition in the community, act upon it.

Increase your participation and create a strong community.

8 comments

  1. sirarmany · May 24, 2011

    Nice one. But it is not as is as it seems. In a world that is so fast and so many choices to choose from can give you a headache, or you might be hungry for all and get stuffed just from the idea of all these events. i loved the solutions to narrow down all those flying targets and stick to manageable ambitions.

    • eweket · May 24, 2011

      I agree the world is going so fast, and it is a good thing. I t means that we have many options to do and choices to make. As italian says, Luxury is nothing without choices. Have different kind of events isn’t bad by itself. But we should organize more how is important for us. thanks for your comment.

  2. grinkchill · May 24, 2011

    It is so true and I agree. But one other thing I have noticed is that events sometimes are not being advertised with enough description and what it is about. I will get invitation about some ICT event and I cannot clearly tell what the content is and what activities will the event involve.

    Secondly , I would like to stress to the point of “Accepting every invitation whether it is what we want or not “. \This one is the main killer habit. I would rather see 100 not attending and 25 attending confirmation and having the 25 come to the event than getting 100 attending 25 not attending confirmation and 25 people coming to the event finally. Saying “No” for what you don’t want is the most honest and proper thing we all should do (at least I believe so …).

    The other problem i have seen is that we don’t re-share or re-post an event we like to our friends and colleagues most of the time, this would have helped the promoter as well as the attendees a lot.

    • eweket · May 24, 2011

      Very valid points! I agree with you that sometimes, the events lack description that we don’t know what we can possibly miss if you we don’t go. So for the event organizers it is a great lesson. Few participants while exacting more means, there is also problem of of communication.

      In the same time, distributing information is very important. Take a good example in youtube. Most people share videos, if you see the views for Ethiopian videos usually very minimal even so the video is very interesting. I understand the total amount of internet users, but from the people who views it how many of them share it? so reposting and re-sharing is very critical on making a good community.

  3. shebaw · May 28, 2011

    hehe, welcome to our world. We created ethiocoders.com but no one seems to join. We are planning to pay for a host since we are now on free host and that’s super slow specially in Ethiopia. We only managed to pay for the domain services. Anyways, coming to your points, there are no technology related interest groups online/offline in Ethiopia that I know of. We would have come if we got your invitations but we didn’t. And of course the absence of the university “instructors” shouldn’t surprise you specially here in Ethiopia. When was the last time you met a university instructor that was passionate about technology? Anyways, I think you would have got better participation if the invitations were evenly distributed instead of just distributing it around universities. Believe it or not, I found this site after googling “Ethiopian computer programming” when I was bored and I’m glad I did. Looking forward for your next posts.

    • eweket · May 31, 2011

      Thanks for your kind comment. You may need to have a little effort on ethiocoders.com though… happy coding .. happy blogging🙂

      • shebaw · May 31, 2011

        We will update it once we have the hosting problem sorted. We mainly want it to be a forum for programming discussions.

  4. Elyas Mulu Kiros · June 30, 2011

    Great points you raised!

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