I’m a moderator of a LinkedIn discussion group on community engagement. While I have been deleting some posts, I wondered if the group would support a more active response.
I thus created five simple polls asking whether we should delete various posts and asked members to answer Yes, Mostly, Rarely, or No to the following questions:
- Should we delete material on community development and how to work with communities?
- Should we delete material about social justice or minority groups?
- Should we delete material that is essentially promoting a community engagement business or consultancy?
- Should we delete material that is not specifically about community engagement?
- Should we delete material on how to improve your business, linked in presence or resume?
The following graph summarises the responses.
I’m quite relieved by the results as I wasn’t sure if the group would agree with the approach I wanted to take. Community engagement is at the heart of community development and community work. I’m thus pleased that most people wanted to keep material on community development and how to work with communities.
I’m also pleased that most people were happy to leave up material about social justice and minority groups. Those who are most affected by an issue or potential change, particularly people who are often marginalised should have the opportunity to be fully involved in planning, decisions, and action. I have long argued that community engagement practitioners have an ethical responsibility to protect the interests of marginalised sections of the community and to consider whose voices are being missed in our conversations. (Interestingly someone commented in response to this question “Wtf? Are you joking? … What is your thesis? Are you proposing to continue to erase POC’s [people of colour] histories?”)
The many posts promoting links to information about how to improve people’s business, increase their networking skills or create a better resume, annoyed me. I’m glad I now have permission to delete them. I am inclined to delete most posts that essentially promote community engagement businesses or consultancies, but can see why some people want them left up, and will follow this preference.
The discussion group currently has over 45,000 members and I think its size has become a problem. I preferred it when there were closer to 20,000 people as I found there was better discussion. With the smaller number there were often posts that generated quite a lot of discussion. This rarely happens now. There are too many posts promoting someone’s blog, LinkedIn post or website and these posts often have no clear link to community engagement.
Unfortunately, few posts now create much actual discussion. I wonder if the group has grown so large that some people now join so that they can promote themselves and their posts rather than wanting to discuss issues to do with community engagement.
I used to find it quite a useful place to ask for feedback about issues for my community engagement teaching and work, as I usually received some helpful responses. When I have tried more recently, I receive few (if any) responses. Even for these polls, each poll only received between 21 and 45 responses after 12 days.
It seems that the group have been a victim of its own success. Hopefully reducing the off-topic posts will help rejuvenate the group.
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
- Collective impact and community engagement
- What is the Spectrum of Public Participation?
- An introduction to community engagement
- Reflections on community development vs community work
- The relationship between community engagement and community development
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