Swarm Conference 2023 Wrap

by Pritika Sachdev September 11, 2023

After four long years, Swarm Conference finally made an in-person comeback! It was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with all our fellow community managers and listen to many inspiring speakers.The schedule was jam-packed, and whether you joined the conference in person or online, it was an amazing experience filled with valuable community management knowledge. There was even a thunderstorm to close off the event!

We thought we’d wrap up by showcasing a few talks from the day and share some key learnings.

eSafety: “Safety by Design”
Melyssa Troy and Joelle Moukhaiber

Melyssa Troy and Joelle Moukhaiber from eSafety joined Swarm to discuss the importance of Safety by Design. Their creation of a community of practice aims to circulate knowledge about online safety and the Online Safety Act.

eSafety is an independent regulator and educator for online safety in Australia. Melyssa and Joelle explained their central pillars are Prevention, Protection, Proactive, and Systemic change. The goal of the three ‘P’ pillars being to prevent online harm and to support those who are currently experiencing it. The change principle focuses on industry codes and standards, which are underpinned by strategic partnerships with industry and online communities

Safety by Design places the safety and rights of users, especially young people and parents, at the centre of the design, development, and deployment of online products and services. The main principles include service provider responsibility, user empowerment and autonomy, and transparency and accountability. The way platforms are designed now sees the burden of safety always fall on the person, which should never be the case. eSafety is hoping in the future, they can continue to work with places like the Metaverse, and see Safety by Design baked in from the ground up.

How the Cosy Movement is Influencing Community Management
Pritika Sachdev, Quiip

Our own Pritika Sachdev took the stage and spoke about the impact of the cosy movement on community management. The term “cosy” in video games tends to focus on safety and low-stress gameplay, such as Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley. These games have become very popular during the pandemic as they offer a way to escape from the stressful offline world. There’s a link between the needs of players who enjoy cosy games and those who seek to make positive connections within a community. To nurture this link, safety, belonging, and connection with others should be at the centre of a cosy community. 

She noted that through running the Moonlight in Garland community, she’s seen an uptick of connection and chatter through she and the lead developers hosting live events like Discord video calls and Twitch streams. These structured video events almost feel like you’re chatting with friends, and work to bring people together, despite being separated by timezones.

Community and Connection in the age of automation
Jordan Guiao, Centre for Responsible Technology

As automation and Generative AI seem more inevitable, Jordon posed the question, “Where do we keep or remove human interaction?” This question asked us to consider the implications of turning customer service into a fully automated bot role. The status quo has seemingly become to implement bots for online feedback and customer service, as Jordan illustrated his struggle trying to connect with a human to solve a complicated log in issue he encountered. He implored us as community builders to push back against this. Instead, we should be working towards building spaces where being human is seen as a good thing. 

He also encouraged Swarmees to consider the cost of AI, pointing out the often overlooked and underpaid labour it takes to train AI like ChatGPT. Finally, Jordan reminded us that Automation isn’t inevitable, it’s a choice. The benefits of us talking about AI and automation now is that we’re having these conversations much earlier than we did with social media, meaning we can still control and influence how it is used going forward. 

Swarm Conference 2023 just showed us how many talented and knowledgeable individuals working to make a better internet for all of us. We hope to see you at Swarm in Melbourne in August 2024.

Want to chat more about our learnings? Book in a coffee session with our senior team! We’re always happy to nerd out over all things community.