Ignite Portland Recap

October 27, 2007

We had a fantastic time at Ignite Portland, and the event exceeded all of our expectations. What we initially thought would be an event with 150 people became an event of nearly 300. We were concerned that we would hit the 297 person fire code limit and need to turn people away at the door, but in the end everyone was admitted to the event, and we hit the fire code limit nearly exactly (277 people registered in our system + ~20 people from Wieden+Kennedy = 297)

The presentations were amazing; it wasn’t too crowded; and I got to meet a bunch of new people!

Key learnings for the next event:

  • Less white wine, more beer and water
  • More time for networking (maybe 14 presentations, instead of 18 to free up some time)
  • Need a larger space (something holding closer to 500) to minimize the risk of turning people away

I think these are all fairly minor issues for our first Ignite Portland event. A huge thanks to co-organizers Todd Kenefsky, Raven Zachary, and Josh Bancroft, and thanks to all of the many volunteers and sponsors for the event. We look forward to doing another one in Jan / Feb! We will be posting more information about future events on the Ignite Portland site along with video and presentations from this event.

There are nearly 200 pictures posted to Flickr already under the igniteportland tag. For complete coverage of the event with links to many other blogs discussing the event, visit Silicon Florist. Rick has done an amazing job of aggregating the event news!

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Backups: Amazon S3 + Jungle Disk = Awesomeness

October 20, 2007

As a follow-up to my earlier post, Why You Should Avoid Mozy Backups, I wanted to blog about the backup solution that I am using now and absolutely love. I’ve had several people ask what I am currently using for a backup solution after the Mozy debacle, so I thought this would be the easiest way to share the information.

Amazon S3 + Jungle Disk = awesomeness.

After my drive reformat last month (thus the need for my Mozy backup), I had a complete hard drive failure (expected, since I knew a reformat wouldn’t “solve” the issue with the physical drive). I restored all of my data from Amazon S3 using Jungle Disk quickly and easily.

Amazon S3 is a really fast, stable, and inexpensive storage solution. I’ve been using it for more than a month and have spent less than $5 so far. The catch is that Amazon S3 can only be accessed via web services; there is no direct consumer interface. So for those of you with mad coding skills and some spare time, you could probably swing it without Jungle Disk.

Jungle Disk provides a simple interface to Amazon S3 along with the ability to do automatic backups at various time intervals. This is a really simple interface – it simply backs up your current data, but does not provide incremental backups, which means that you can only retrieve the most recent copy of a file and not previous versions. After a short free trial, you can buy the software for $20.

Most of my data (maybe 95%) is stored in Clearspace, Zimbra, svn, various online apps, etc., so the number of files backed up is pretty small. An online backup solution like Amazon S3 and Jungle Disk is perfect for me.

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The Joy and Peril of Organizing Community Events

October 18, 2007

OK, I’m a bit of a geek as most people know. Yes, I organize tech events for fun in my “spare” time. 🙂

We are organizing the first Ignite Portland event next Thursday. Initially, we thought we would have 150 people – maybe 200 if we got lucky. We picked a nice, roomy space for the event (Wieden+Kennedy) holding 297 people. We did mostly word of mouth marketing: blogs, a couple of mailing lists, the pdxMindshare newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Nothing fancy, we just spread the word organically.

Well, we reached 300 people on the RSVP list on upcoming this afternoon. We faced similar issues with Barcamp Portland, but we only had about 250 people register for that event. In the week leading up to BarCamp, we went from about 150 people to 250 on the wiki. Yesterday morning around 9am, we hit 200 … today we crossed the 300 mark. Seriously?? 100 new RSVPs in a little more than 1 day!?!

While we are thrilled and amazed by the response to our simple event, we are faced with the unpleasant task of capping the RSVPs at 325 on upcoming. We also know that we will need to count people as they register, and if we end up hitting the 297 limit, we will have the even more unpleasant task of turning people away at the door.

On the one hand, Wow! look what we accomplished. On the other hand, we might have to turn people away (not exactly in the spirit of a community event).

Portland is a great place for technology enthusiasts, and we have an amazing tech community. Realistically, I think we will be fine. Assuming we get 325 RSVPs on Upcoming, a few people will have last minute conflicts, and we should be OK.

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Want to Play with Clearspace & Win up to $5000 or an iPhone?

October 11, 2007

Have you been looking for an excuse to play around with Clearspace? Now is your chance!

You can download Clearspace and get a free 5 user evaluation license to use to develop a kick-ass plugin by Oct. 25th to win all sorts of cool stuff including:

  • iPhone
  • Cash prizes up to $5000
  • Free 25 user license of Clearspace
  • Jivespace T-shirt

More information about the contest is available on Jivespace.

Attend or Present at Ignite Portland!

October 9, 2007

Our first Ignite Portland is rapidly approaching!
Thursday, October 25th, 6-9pm
224 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR
Please RSVP at Upcoming

Interested in sponsoring Ignite Portland? We are looking for additional sponsors to help with the costs of refreshments and signage. 100% of sponsorships go towards costs directly, no middleman. Contact Raven Zachary if you are interested.

Want to present at Ignite Portland on 10/25? If you are interested in presenting, please submit your ideas before 10/16! All you have to do is pack an idea/pitch into our format – 20 slides, shown for 15 seconds each, auto-advanced, and make your idea sound more exciting than the others! We’ve had a great response to our call for presenters. So much so that we have more ideas than presentation slots; however, keep them coming! We’ll just have to pick the best ones. Keep in mind that we expect these to be regular events, so if you do not get to present at this one, you will have other opportunities.

Please tell your friends, blog about it, and post the Ignite badge on your website if you want to help us promote this Portland community event held for the Portland community by the Portland community … yes we do this just for fun 🙂

We hope to see you at Ignite Portland!

Hot Topics in Communities: Reputation Systems

October 1, 2007

This is the first post in what I hope will be a short series of posts about hot topics in community management.

When I talk about reputation systems (or a reputation engine), I am referring to ways to award points or some other status measure to community members as a “reward” for participating. Jive’s Clearspace and Forums products have a reputation system built into the application awarding points for posting discussions, blogs, wiki documents, and correctly answering questions. The points accumulated by users show up on the users’ profiles and in “Top Members” boxes for specific communities throughout the site. I use this only as an example, since it is the reputation system that I have the most experience using.

The Good:

People like getting points and being recognized for their contributions within a community. It encourages participation and keeps people motivated to participate in the community. Community managers can use the reputations to highlight and reward key members with additional access (moderation access, etc.) or with other rewards like t-shirts.

The Bad:

People will figure out how your system works, and they will find creative ways to game it. Maybe they respond to posts with trivial answers or post discussions with content of little value solely to gain points. This is especially true in technical communities where people will game it just for the challenge. This leads many people to claim that reputation systems are worthless and should never be used.

The Practical:

I’m not an “all or nothing” kind of girl. I think that there is a middle ground where carefully configured reputation systems can be useful.

I suggest putting the responsibility on other community members to award points to their peers for quality posts. One way to accomplish this is by configuring your reputation system to put a heavy weight on correct / helpful answers with little or no points awarded for quantity of posts.

Do not be afraid to adjust the weights over time when you see abuses! You can start out with points awarded for starting discussions, but if you see users posting just to get points, reconfigure it and be clear with your community that you reconfigured it and why. Sometimes communities can be good at self-policing members with bad behavior.

Also make sure that people can easily scan the posts of other users. If I see a user with a bunch of points, I should be able to go to the profile and see whether they have good, quality answers or just meaningless quantity. Community members are smart, and they will be able to tell which community members are participating in meaningful ways as long as you give them the tools to do it.

I also advise against automating rewards based on points. I might be willing to do it for something small like a t-shirt, but not for anything meaningful like moderation permissions, commit rights in open source, or anything else of value.

This is just a start. I know that other community managers probably have horror stories or great ideas about how they have made reputation systems work well. I would love to hear them here in the comments. I am also interested in hearing from people who manage different types of communities to how their perspective differs from mine (I have mostly managed developer / open source communities).

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