The Problem With Big Asks

January 30, 2013Comments Off

Big asks are generally a bad idea. 

A big ask is asking members to do something that takes considerable time, resources, or physical/mental effort to do. Considerable, here, is in comparison with responding to a discussion. 

Asking members to record a video of themselves and post it online, is a big ask. Asking members to write an essay (or even a blog post) is a big ask. Asking members to do anything that is difficult tends to slightly reduce the level of activity in the community.

Members that can't be bothered to undertake the ask tell themselves they don't care about the community that much. It changes their relationship with the community*.

It's better to ask members to do small, simple, specific, things. Ask members to respond to a discussion, vote in a poll, share their best tip about x. These investments build up. Members keep telling themselves that they increasingly like the community, that's why they spend so much time here. 

Ten tiny contributions to a community is better than a single, big, contribution. It's the tiny contributions over extended periods of time that build habits and an understanding of the person. Stop asking members to do things that are difficult, look for tiny contributions they can make instead. 

* The exception here is to take a pledge to do something big in the future and then hold members accountable to it. These seem to work well. 

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