Vocal User Archetypes and Their Roles in the Community

In_your_face___1_by_mjranum_stock

I’ve been recapping community management basics at my full-time job today. Even companies who know they want community managers (like in videogames, where I generally work as Community Manager) very often have no idea what the role entails. Even more difficult is explaining community management in an industry that is used to seeing an immediate, measurable response to changes and investments, so my current role is to break down the regular community management tasks and explain how to measure the success of a community.

In detailing the methods for reporting user contributions, I have to explain community dynamics that many of us who are social online take for granted. This particular list struck me as amusing because after distilling the personalities of extremely vocal community members to 9 overarching types, I realized they fit perfectly into a DnD alignment chart. This list is not an all-encompassing personality grid for a community, but focuses on the basic vocal personalities with whom a Community Manager spends most of their direct-contact time, for better or worse.

 

 

 Obeying authority, upholding/respecting structure.  Upholds structure situationally.  Likes personal freedom, individual authority.
Altruistic,
respectful of others,
helpful.

The Greeter

Always happy to make new friends.

The Moderator

Able to separate the intent from the idea from the person.

The Socialite

Everyone knows them, somehow.

Works for others
or for themselves
based on situation.

The Mentor

Provides direct knowledge where needed, to one or a group of users.

The Ranter

Often mistaken for/accused of being a Troll.

The Gatekeeper

Expects new members to prove themselves before “allowing” them to join in discussion.

Disrespectful,
opportunistic,
self-serving.

The Backseat Moderator

Publicly “enforces” community rules and shuts down discussions s/he disagrees with,
despite that often being against the rules.

The Troll

Out for attention.

The Drama Llama

Their business is everyone’s business.

The Greeter

Always happy to make new friends.

Typical Post: Not a lot of technical talk, but gives the topic a personal touch.

Profile: The greeter is similar to the Moderator but tends to take things personally. Gives a friendly, human connection to the product. Good grasp of how the community functions and can guide new users to the information they seek. If burned out, can become the Backseat Moderator or the Drama Llama.

Possible community benefits: Welcoming new users and connecting information seekers with Mentors.

Flipside: The Backseat Moderator

The Moderator

Able to separate the intent from the idea from the person.

Typical Post: I see a lot of valid points here.

Profile: Usually likes solid knowledge before speaking an opinion. Doesn’t need approval of others to know their own ideas; allows unneeded opinions to roll off, at least publicly. Excited to learn more about a project without considering themselves “above the rest” for gaining knowledge. Embodies or understands the vision of the community without needing specific rules to lawyer. Respectful of other users and encourages discussion. Can get burned out from feeling slightly separate from core groups in the community, in-between them all. Clashes with the Backseat Moderator and Gatekeeper. Ignores the Troll and Drama Llama.

Possible community benefits: Able to moderate community contributions and encourage engagement.

Flipside: The Troll

The Socialite

Everyone knows them, somehow.

Typical Post: Here’s where the party will be.

Profile: Nobody’s sure how this person became famous in the community, but s/he now knows all the right people. Sometimes manipulative. Is acquainted with most influential community members and forms mutually beneficial relationships with some. Very outgoing but forms few close friendships. At worst, becomes the Drama Llama.

Possible community benefits: Very good at suggesting events, giving feedback on the feel of community, and recognizing individual contributions.

Flipside: The Drama Llama

The Mentor

Provides direct knowledge where needed, to one or a group of users.

Typical Post: Full of examples or helpful links.

Profile: Helps less experienced users get up to speed to contribute. Is willing to share the path of their learning. Can get frustrated with a user who would rather ask questions than think/figure out things for themselves. Gets along well with greeters and Moderators. Can become the Gatekeeper if pushed or burned out.

Possible community benefits: Able to help pinpoint a FAQ. Encourages learning and discussion.

Flipside: The Gatekeeper

The Ranter

Often mistaken for/accused of being a Troll.

Typical Post: Wall of text.

Profile: Prattles on at length, sometimes incomprehensible. Very passionate. May be extremely articulate but ideas often overwhelm the communication. Gets very angry, often falls prey to Trolls and Backseat Moderators.

Possible community benefits: Good “idea” people. Not good Moderators but often display leadership abilities. Give them opportunities to contribute an opinion, especially in writing. Watch topics for actual issues at the core of the rants.

Flipside: none

The Gatekeeper

Expects new members to prove themselves before “allowing” them to join in discussion.

Typical Post: I can’t believe you didn’t know that.

Profile: Refuses to acknowledge own gaps in knowledge. Confuses ignorance and stupidity. Actual experience is usually a strong “middle”. Fears embarrassment or exposure of actual skills. Will usually stand between new users and very knowledgeable users. Clashes with Greeters and Drama Llamas.

Possible community benefits: Helpful in pinpointing FAQ requirements by monitoring regular demands. Can be coached into converting to Mentor.

Flipside: The Mentor

The Backseat Moderator

Publicly “enforce” community rules and shut down discussions they disagree with, despite that often being against the rules.

Typical Post: Shutting down conversation, acting as ultimate authority.

Profile: Very concerned with the behavior of others while ignoring their own. Backseat Moderators often think they have the answer to every question whether they have the actual knowledge or not. Frequently label others who disagree with them. Often disrespectful of other users and consider authority figures incompetent. At the core they care about the community itself, but do not understand how to behave in the community. Often cause more issues for Moderator team than the actual problems they’re reporting. Clashes badly with Trolls, Drama Llamas, and Ranters. Often remove themselves from the community in most public way possible.

Possible community benefits: Can be coached to use their knowledge to encourage discussion, converting to Greeter.

Flipside: The Greeter

The Troll

Out for attention.

Typical Post: Intentionally inflammatory.

Profile: Wicked intelligent and able to manipulate how others perceive them. Often cares deeply about the subject but considers others incapable of discourse on the Troll’s level, toying with them instead. Holds little respect if any for general members.

Possible community benefits: Excellent bug, exploit, and security testers; inventive in their methods. Can be used to encourage discussions.

Flipside: The Moderator

The Drama Llama

Their business is everyone’s business.

Typical Post: Swings between talking about others and making their own personal lives public.

Profile: They don’t mean to cause trouble, but what is typically an inner monologue for everyone else becomes an outer dialogue for them. Similar to the Greeter but tends to form territories or cliques. Little tact. Knows something about most influential community members, usually negative.

Possible community benefits: Can be coached towards converting to Socialite.

Flipside: The Socialite

 

Header image by Marcus Ranum

You Might Also Like