Private, But Pseudonymous

While undertaking around a dozen interviews for an upcoming client community, the community manager and I noticed two conflicting desires.

The first was to have a community where they could engage only with people at an advanced, but not too advanced, level within the community.

Prospective members wanted to engage with peers who were in the trenches ‘doing the work’ but had also achieved a senior role within their organisations. This meant we would have to know and approve members to join the community.

The second was a fear of ‘saying the wrong thing’ or saying something which could be interpreted negatively by regulatory bodies or by their peers. Members clearly wanted to discuss and share information, but they didn’t want their names attached to anything.

The final community concept we designed was private (i.e. we would invite and approve members individually to be sure we got the audience we wanted) but pseudonymous (i.e. we would ask members not to use their real names).

The upside is they can share more openly and freely without having to be concerned for how they’re perceived. The major downside of this is members don’t gain a reputational benefit from their contributions.

So far it seems to be working extraordinarily well.

As time goes on, I suspect we will see more private, pseudonymous, groups for peers to discuss highly technical matters with one another. The pseudonymous nature might even become a big appeal of many communities.

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