10 essential documentaries for community managers
10 essential documentaries for community managers

10 Essential Documentaries for Community Managers

Ready to kick back on a Friday night in front of your preferred online streaming service? We’ve got you covered!

19th May 2016

Ready to kick back on a Friday night in front of your preferred online streaming service? We’ve got you covered! Here are ten entertaining yet informative documentaries spanning everything from Craigslist to the Silk Road, from privacy through to paywalls, and more.

The Thread (2015)

In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing, the chasm between old and new media grew as Internet users turned to Reddit for the latest updates. What began as a thread for amateur sleuths quickly grew too big for the team of volunteer moderators to manage despite a stringent set of House Rules.

We Are Legion (2012)

Billed as the story of hacktivists, We Are Legion traces the foundation of radical collectives from Cult of the Dead Cow through to Anonymous. Of particular interest is the way in which Anons describe the sense of belonging, deepening relationships and how protests were, in many ways, offline community events.

Catfish (2010)

It was the sleeper documentary hit that spawned an eponymous TV series and a spot in the Oxford English Dictionary. Beyond the implications for online dating, it raises questions about anonymity and whether you can, or should, trust who your community members say they are.


Looking for something a bit more bite-sized? Check out these 10 TED talks on Social Media to inspire you!


The Internet’s Own Boy (2014)

This is the tragic tale of Aaron Schwartz, co-founder of Reddit, who took his own life after his indictment for wire fraud and data theft. It’s also the story of copyright law, fair access and the ethics of holding publicly funded information behind paywalls.

We Live In Public (2009)

The name of controversial entrepreneur Josh Harris may have faded into obscurity, but he was certainly ahead of his time – creating online TV stations and a web-based Big Brother before there was a Big Brother. Yet it was his Warhol-esque predictions about broadcasting the minutiae of our everyday lives which feel eerily accurate in today’s world of status updates and Vine celebrities.

Terms & Conditions May Apply (2013)

Hands up if you read the fine print for every digital service you use? Many of us don’t, which on one hand affords us almost unlimited capabilities in targeting online ads, but on the other can put the privacy of our members at risk in sensitive communities.

Craigslist Joe (2012)

Pundits have been long-debated whether the Internet is a force of connection or isolation. While the evidence runs deeper than a single experiment on Craigslist, it is a moving insight into human generosity through online community.

#chicagoGirl (2013)

It is a harrowing testament to the political power of social media when Syrian protesters are required to hand over their usernames and passwords upon detention. #chicagoGirl examines the role of social networks during the Arab Spring told through the lens of a 19-year-old Syrian student in Chicago.

Deep Web (2015)

Although most, if not all, community managers tend to work within the Surface Web, it’s easy to forget there are hidden communities thriving in the corners of the Deep Web. The Silk Road forum, helmed by the mysterious Dread Pirate Roberts, was such a community. In fact, one of Silk Road’s own moderators played a key role in the infiltration and prosecution of Dread Pirate Roberts.

Citizenfour (2014)

No list on digital culture is complete without a nod to Edward Snowden and the most significant leak since the unaired Game of Thrones episodes. This Academy Award-winning documentary is more like a thriller, shining a spotlight on questions of data collection, encryption and the governmental abuse of technology.

What are your favourite documentaries on web culture, social media and community management?

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