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Forum manager position description

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FORUM MANAGER POSITION DESCRIPTION

  • Title: Forum Manager
  • Type: Volunteer Position
  • Location: Flexible “anywhere, anytime” position serving an online community tied to a geographic area

Purpose

Local Forum Managers (FMs) connect hundreds of neighbors, build community, and increase civic participation through E-Democracy.org's network of online community Issues Forums. Our volunteer FMs are crucial leaders and facilitators that make effective and inclusive community online engagement a reality for thousands of participants.

Skills/Qualifications Needed

  • Live, work, or have a direct connection to the geographic area served by the forum
  • Good with people, friendly disposition, patient, and a good listener
  • Tolerant of different perspectives with a commitment to promoting civilly in online public spaces
  • Willingness to seek out and support diverse voices to increase public participation (people who are viewed as strong local political partisans are usually not a good fit)
  • Willingness to learn how to administer the basic technology functions of the forum (this is not a “technology” role, although a technical aptitude is helpful)
  • Time and technology expectations:
    • Have regular and reliable online access most days and evenings
    • Spend typically about 15 minutes over the course of a day monitoring the forum; additional time is required on the rare occasion when there is a problem topic or a serious rule violation
    • Attend at least one yearly outreach opportunity (typically an evening or weekend community festival or meeting in the area)

Responsibilities

Baseline expectations are the same for all forums, with additional responsibilities to create and open new forums.

Existing Forum:

  • Welcome new members and encourage introductions
  • Lightly facilitate and encourage broad and inclusive participation on the forum
  • Generally monitor announcements and discussions (you are not required to read every post word for word)
  • Encourage participants and community groups to share local announcements, news, questions, ideas, recommendations, opinions, and more
  • When forum activity slows, encourage discussion by “seeding” the forum with a relevant local topic and questions, or find and post community announcements
  • Adhere to and enforce official Forum Rules including the rules-related FM tasks defined therein
  • Enforce the crucial civility rules with an eye toward first understanding what’s going on and trying to improve the situation; respond appropriately to infrequent complaints from forum members about specific posts
  • Promptly address the rare difficult topic or a participant that significantly threatens forum civility; seek assistance and advice from E-Democracy.org staff as well as FM peers or the local forum committee if one exists
  • When you will be offline for multiple days or need back-up assistance to monitor your forum, simply notify E-Democracy Tech Support: support@e-democracy.org


Additional for Start-up or ”Refreshed” Forums:

  • Lead start-up efforts including forum outreach - serving as the official representative of E-Democracy.org and point of contact for community organizations and individuals in your geographic area
  • Draft the forum’s “About” information and charter; gather input from forum members and work with E-Democracy Issues Forum Lead to finalize and post to forum’s web page
  • When recruitment goals are met, open the forum with a round of friendly introductions and messages to explain forum purpose and approach using templates and guidance provided by E-Democracy
  • Promote pro-active and inclusive forum outreach online and in-person as your volunteer time allows, encourage other volunteers to assist, and advise E-Democracy staff and outreach contractors (in communities where we have grant support for special outreach) on how we may best assist outreach that helps build forum membership and content that is reflective of your area’s diversity

Role, Authority, Reporting

Broadly, they include the following:

  • The FM’s fundamental role is to support their local forum within the civic mission of E-Democracy.org, and to enforce E-Democracy’s official rules upon which your local “scope” charter is based
  • Facilitate and support forum members to post and actively engage in this online community and a ; willingness to orientate and work with (often new) participants using common sense to encourage participation within the purpose, community building spirit, and rules of the forum. While all active posters are unmoderated, your duties include moderating the first posts of new members and extremely infrequently and temporarily moderating certain posts as defined in the Forum Rules.
  • FMs are officially appointed by, report to, and may be replaced at will by the E-Democracy.org Issues Forum Lead.

FMs may resign at any time for any reason but are expected to recruit their replacement in advance to ensure continuous forum operations.

  • Communities with active local forum committees may choose to be part of the FM nomination process and may support the forum in collaboration with the FM.
  • While this position is volunteer, on a prior case by case basis, you may request that material expenses for special outreach be reimbursed by contacting the E-Democracy Issues Forum Lead. Further, being a volunteer Forum Manager, does not preclude you from being contracted by E-Democracy to lead paid inclusive outreach for forums in targeted areas


These roles and processes are determined by the E-Democracy Board of Directors and communicated by the board’s designated Issues Forum Lead and through the most current Issues Forum Rules.

Training and Support for FMs

The Issues Forum Lead will provide training and support to new and continuing FMs, and is always available as a resource. FMs can also expect the following support from E-Democracy:

  • Technical support via our easy-to-use website and E-Democracy staff as needed
  • Peer-to-peer support via an internal online spaces with volunteers from other communities – long-time FMs are encouraged to mentor new FMs
  • Written guides, templates, and video webinars

Broader Benefits

  • Build amazing connections among neighbors and community members that benefit your community
  • Foster community action and problem-solving in a neutral facilitator/convener role
  • Learn important skills around online facilitation and inclusive community engagement
  • Join a supportive network of dozens of E-Democracy’s online community forums that promote the civic mission and are guided by an effective rules framework developed over more than 15 years of experience


Detailed information on Issues Forums is available with links to more resources.

 

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