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I have a good problem. My community is growing. Unfortunately, it's growing much faster than I anticipated and I'm having problems keeping up with aspects of the community.

My biggest concern and regret is that I don't have the ability to interact with all the new users any more. I feel out of the loop because I really want to talk to all of these new users. I don't think the users feel that I am a neglectful administrator, but I feel that way. I used to be able to participate in most (if not all) of the conversations and answer questions quickly. Now I can't or there is a lot of time between the question and when I can answer.

Realizing that this is "a good thing" for the community, how do I stay engaged without being able to offer the personalized interaction I was able to do even a few months ago?

  • This is a capacity issue if you want all new users to be greeted and kept up with. I think any of the capacity based solutions would work here unless you specify you can't recruit or have tried to recruit more help. – Glen Swan Oct 17 '14 at 2:25
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This is a problem all administrators/moderators seem to face and ultimately if your site keeps growing you won't be able to keep up.

While the site is small you can effectively be both a user (posting, commenting, voting etc.) and a moderator quite successfully, but as the site grows you find that you only have time to do one of these things and that as the administrator of the site it does tend to be the latter rather than the former. There is no getting away from this.

You should be looking at recruiting more administrators/moderators to cover the times when you can't be online (your night) and help with the duties during the busiest times on your site (e.g. the European afternoon/East Coast America morning).

This will spread the moderating duties and allow you a little more time to interact with the users. However, you are never going to be able to participate in all the conversations any more as there are simply too many of them. If possible have a place or mechanism where the administrators can share information so that you present a united front and your users can be confident that the actions of all are fair and consistent.

  • By "recruiting", do you mean with real staffs or volunteers? – Pacerier Jun 9 '15 at 21:08
  • @Pacerier - either/both. – ChrisF Jun 9 '15 at 21:09
  • There are some articles which says money shouldn't be involved in these matters. What is your take on this? – Pacerier Jul 8 '15 at 11:57
  • @Pacerier - that depends on the actual duties someone is doing and the time they are expected to do those duties. For example the SE moderators are not paid but are only expected to be active for half an hour or so a day, but the community managers are (rightly) employees. – ChrisF Jul 8 '15 at 12:04
  • Ic, so basically it's better to have a team of fully paid full-time employees doing the managerial tasks then to rely on volunteers. – Pacerier Jul 8 '15 at 12:19
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First, congratulations on your growth! The next step is how to manage this growth.

Take a step back and see what the community is doing in areas where you are not able to keep up any longer. Are there complaints or is the community getting along just fine? Is it "administration" tasks that are not getting done (eg. handling flags, dealing with spammers, updating software), or is it simply conversations you are missing out on?

A solution to both is to add additional moderators. Share a portion of your daily 'behind the scenes' work with others. Depending on your community culture these people can either be appointed by you or voted upon by the community at large. In either case though, with a reduction in some administrative tasks you will have time to step back into the discussion. You should be aware that new moderators may require a bit of training or guidance. This means that your free time won't drop instantly.

If you are missing out on conversations, there is nothing that says you can't provide input a few days later. Much like I am doing with this question, I did not answer it the day it was posted. Yet, you still are getting my input. That is the beauty of the internet. The conversation is there for you when you have time to get to it. However, I'd discourage bumping really old topics.

You can still remain engaged by looking at popular topics and participating in those conversations. Alternatively, to provide a personalized touch though, you could look at the unpopular topics. Who is asking questions but not getting a response? Reach out in those topics and provide an answer. You could set up an RSS feed and filter for less common topics to engage those users more quickly. You don't mention what your community focuses on, but I assume that you have a set of topics that are discussed more often. Filter those out of this feed. Your community will answer those questions, while you can be more personal to the less visited topics.

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