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Reduce and Transform Community Debt

Last week, our blog began the conversation around #CommunityDebt, its definition, and its manifestation within an online community. Continuing the conversation, what steps can be taken to reduce and transform community debt?


It starts inside the organization. Examine the dynamics and community debt of your internal team. To foster trust and understanding, community managers (CMs) must meet regularly with stakeholders. CMs play a vital role in collecting and conveying community feedback. Meetings between leadership and CMs should go beyond analyzing data reports. Data is certainly key, but there is a wealth of valuable information about the community that can only surface through open conversations and dialogue, and often that information is critical to fully understanding your data. By providing an open space for discussion, the whole team from top down can gain insights leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the community’s needs and concerns. CMs act as a bridge, and if trust is lacking on either side (internal or external), significant gaps can emerge.

Tree of Worlds Rebirth


This is where the two-way conversation happens. Hold regular office hours with the community to find out if members are feeling heard, rewarded, and engaged. Holding regular, consistent space for feedback and discussion is important for active listening and community trust building.


Listening to your community during an invitation for feedback and then not acting on their advice with transparent decision-making only turns them more frustrated and hopeless. Show that you heard the community by calling out key pain points in future updates. For example, “We hear your concerns around falling through the floor in our game and we will be prioritizing work on that issue.”


Give community members a heads up when changes are coming (before the day they are launched). Irritation is a natural response to changes that aren’t wanted or seem needed. In hindsight, we can then see what it was like before as better. Consider methods to reduce nostalgic bias by allowing the community to compare (when possible) previous versions of your product with the current one so that they can recognize the improvements and give feedback on what they don’t like about what’s been changed.


While community feedback is one of many factors product managers, designers, and developers will count when building and maintaining the product, there will be times when changes are decided on that go against community requests. Communicate the reasoning on the changes with empathy and in collaboration with CMs.


Plan your communities with collaboration cycles where the community team and/or developers, along with the community, have rituals (such as events) where they come together creatively and bond over shared values, causes, and how to improve the product. Purposeful two-way conversations humanizes both directions. Make sure to designate a space for community members to submit creative feedback like imagery, designs and videos.


Create and maintain collaborative programs that reward and encourage community members to develop their own paths of upskilling and leadership. Rewards do not need to be financial. Ask your community what would provide value to them and their goals. Remember that moderators are not the same thing as community leaders and will always attempt to keep the peace over amplifying the concerns (more on this soon).


Investing in conflict resiliency (versus resolution) will help your community proactively own their space and reward courageous and diverse voices when they speak up. Address conflict and issues promptly and where possible offer recruitment and training for conflict resilience. Establish clear channels for reporting and addressing grievances. For more information on creating safe spaces, please read Chauntelle Lewis’s “8 Steps to Intentionally  Cultivate a Safe Space of Belonging,” which outlines a step-by-step process in a deep and meaningful way. Conflict is not inherently bad and can be a healthy starting point for growth. As Michelle MiJung Kim explained, “Part of our obsession with wanting to be seen as a good person is fueled by our binary thinking: if we are not good, then that must mean we are bad.” More on conflict resiliency and community moderation in our next blog. 

How have you talked about community with your internal stakeholders? Continue the conversation about #CommunityDebt on the official VorteXR 

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This is a blog series written by the VorteXR team. New VorteXR blog every week! Check out for previous blog posts. 

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