Sorry this is a bit long.
I have made it no secret how I think Trust Levels are part of Discourse’s secret sauce. When I am commonly working with clients around their communities, I use TLs as a primary way of recognizing community contributions and then recognizing and rewarding those members as they flow through the trust levels.
While TLs are great for opening up moderation capabilities, I think their true potential is in enabling a community to incentive and recognize communities to participate more.
I was having a conversation with @joffreyjaffeux who shared some recent work on the TL report, and I mentioned I had a small wishlist of TL related items, and I thought I would share them here for a broader discussion.
Of course, take all of this with a suitable sized grain of salt, but eager to hear other thoughts on these ideas.
1. Trust Level Summary Report
Often when I am working with communities, I set up a workflow where when users transition between TLs we use it to trigger recognition and/or rewards. For example, if someone goes from TL1 to TL2, I often suggest we create a new topic to celebrate that user’s fabulous contributions to the community. From TL2 to TL3 they often get a swag bag. In almost every case I have done this those users have loved the recognition and felt a strong sense of community.
I would love if Discourse could show on the main Admin page a summary of which users have transitioned between trust levels in the last 30 days. For example:
Users Promoted How can I use this?
From Level 1 to Level 2:
From Level 2 to Level 3:
This will make it much easier to identify these users, and help communities to reward them. As a minor bonus, it could have a small link (such as my example above) to documentation with suggestions of what to do to recognize those users.
2. Trust Level Rebranding
When I am working with clients I will often do two things with TLs:
- Rebrand them (e.g. Silver, Gold, Platinum members).
- Remove the words “Trust Level” so members don’t look up trust levels and try to game the system (especially with the fabulous documentation available for Discourse.)
I think it could be fantastic to simplify this rebranding and look of feel of trust levels. We can do this today with text strings, but it can be a bit cumbersome, especially for those new to Discourse. I would even suggest this is part of a “TL wizard” of sorts
In my mind, these membership levels should be a unique notable pat of the community, and therefore Discourse, experience. I would love to see ‘Membership Levels’ in the burger menu, with each TL having a full size hero image, blurb about the level, a list of members, and even latest posts by those members.
3. Trust Level Profiles
When I evaluate community contributions, it often includes but is not limited to Discourse. It can also include outside activities such as submitting pull requests, writing blog posts, running events, or running on governance boards. This all depends on the core personas we are catering the community to.
For the vast majority of communities I build, all of these personas will use Discourse, but there are activities they do outside of Discourse I would love to have incorporated into TLs as criteria.
It would be enormously useful if we had the notion of a Trust Level Profile. That is, instead of having TL1, TL2, TL3, etc., I can add a profile such as “Developer” (that matches my target personas).
I could then define a list of criteria for each TL, including the core elements of Discourse, but also these additional external integrations. This would have the added benefit of making the Discourse account the central record for tracking community accomplishments and experience (this is a side topic, but I think making Discourse the central hub and profile for community members, would be enormously valuable.)
Now, of course, this will require integration with these other services, but I think it could be worth exploring. Another option here could be including support for cred.
4. Trust Level Triggers
Again, when I am working with clients, I want to get them to be intentional about the community experience. What does the on-boarding experience look like? What happens when people reach TL1? How do we recognize and reward them? Do we send them swag, and if so, what should it be?
I think it could be enormously helpful to have a series of integrated triggers that occur when someone reaches a trust level. That is, when an individual gets to a new trust level, automatic actions can kick-off such as:
- Emailing a community manager to notify them of the user going up a level, so the community manager can reach out and thank the user for their work.
- Drafting a new public topic (but still in draft) with a topic template that the community manager can then go in and edit to celebrate that person’s work (e.g. this could automatically embed their profile photo, a list of their most popular posts, etc.)
- Updating a Google Sheet to request part of a swag allocation for the care kit you send them. these kinds of external integrations could be neat areas where the broader community can build additional support, just like with plugins.
- Drafting a PM in draft for the admin or community manager which will ask the user for their shipping address to send some swag.
- Adding them to an email alias (e.g. for people in TL3) - I often do this for very engaged community members, so they have a bat phone for contacting the leadership of a community.
I think this will accomplish two things:
- It will automate a lot of manual processes.
- We can encourage a marketplace of ideas around ways to recognize people moving through trust levels.
I think if we can make it easier for Discourse users to know that TLs are a great way to build engagement and have some solid, practical check-box examples of how they can do that at each transition, this would result in great community experiences.
Now, to be very clear, I don’t think we should ever automate emailing or notifying the user to congratulate them on moving up a level (as people don’t like to be thanked by computers), but I think we simplify and automate other elements of this process.
5. Submarine Triggers
This is not specific to a TL, but it is related to community member engagement and recognition.
When I wrote People Powered I talk about Submarine incentives as a way to recognize great work.
In a nutshell, we use computers to detect the behavior we want to see and then we use people to recognize and reward it.
For example, I would love to know when a user in a low TL (e.g. TL1) answers a question and has their post marked as the solution for the first time. I want to see that this happened and then drop them a PM with a nice, personal note appreciating them providing support and guidance in the community.
I would love to see Discourse filled with these kinds of submarine triggers. Other examples could include:
- Users with the most likes in a month (very popular)
- Users who are both reading and writing the most in a given time period (very engaged)
- Users who have had the likes from a wide range of people (very interesting across a broad group).
- Users in a higher TL being liked by people in a lower TL (an indicator of potential mentoring.)
Getting a notification when this occurs would (a) help community managers and admins to recognize great work at a very personal level, and (b) get people thinking about recognizing individual behaviors, not just TL changes.
OK, that’s it. Thanks for reading to the end.
While I can’t help write the code, happy to help feed into how these features could be built in other ways (e.g. testing, further input etc.)