Private spaces in communities – What to consider

By Lukas on 7 May 2024

Private spaces can be hugely impactful for communities, but there are a few points to consider before going ahead. Here are some questions to ask yourself before pulling the trigger:

If members are asking for private spaces – What reason do they give to you?

We often have requests from members to create private spaces, the reasoning behind this is crucial to understand. If they want a general space to hide away from the wider community and speak more freely, that’s a red flag. If they want a space to focus on collaboration, or to help to test sensitive stuff, that’s great – As it will ultimately benefit the wider base in the long term.

How will the space be managed?

Extra capacity will be needed for an added environment – even if it’s in the same platform and with the same people. Make sure to take the time to review your current duties and where you might need extra help or to de-prioritise other initiatives. 

Which members are going to be involved?

Private spaces are communities themselves, so think about who you’ll be inviting and how they interact with each other. Also, which member has a certain skill or passion? Make sure to map out your activity to match the right people, and have a sense of how these people will play together. 

How long is the space needed for?

Openness and exposure to different members’ content & perspectives are generally the way to go if you want to create a healthy community. A private space may divert certain discussions away from the community so you should consider how long you need it for. If the private space is for a certain project or product release, making it a temporary thing might be the best option.

You should always however make a log of who has been involved in private space before, as they are often the people you approach again.

What effect will it have on the wider community?

Will some members feel left out? Will the private groups’ impact affect the wider community? Think about how you’ll communicate what this space is for and why certain people are joining. If you base it on previous efforts & contributions, newer members will begin to think about what they can do to get involved next time. 

Is the private space activity sensitive? 

Think about how & if the activity from the private space is sensitive – either from a brand/product perspective, or in terms of what is being discussed. The space might be a brand-new product that has not been announced, or you might even be discussing a purpose or direction for the entire community that needs some focused discussion first. Carefully consider the guidelines of the private area and make sure that all participants are well aware. Consider NDAs if you are worried.

What is the objective of the space?

This one is simple. Keep on topic. Keep the focus. Manage the space with your objective in mind at all times.

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