I am in two Slack groups that share a common goal: networking and mentorship. They provide multiple channels for people to introduce themselves, ask for help and mentorship. In total these two groups have more than 3 thousand people. They also have something else in common: nothing happens there. There’s no meaningful conversation going on, or anything of value. I can’t even say that the noise to signal ratio is bad - there’s neither noise or signal. Most of the posts are people sharing their own stuff in the hope of getting some engagement. I seriously doubt there is, but I can easily measure it by sharing something there.
I have some experience working in products that deal with communities. I even wrote something about it on Social Networks from First Principles. Suffice to say that the majority of people in online communities are lurkers. You won’t get anything from them. While at the same time, the tiniest minority is the one producing most of the content. This phenomenon is shared across many places - you can read about Nielsen’s rule here. But these two communities don’t even follow this rule - there’s no signal. I find this odd, because businesses doing coaching are surging. It’s pretty easy to find an online coach with engineering experience. I wonder if the issue is that a) community members don’t know who to speak with in a vast ocean of people b) the interactions in these communities are free. It feels that there’s a sunk-cost fallacy mixed with price-value bias. We have a tendency to assume that if something is free, it’s because it’s not that good, or there’s a catch. I am willing to bet that the thought process goes like this: if someone is coaching or mentoring for free, on their own good will, it’s likely because it’s not good enough to put a price tag on it. The coach doesn’t value their expertise enough, so why should I? Or perhaps not. Perhaps all these interactions happen in sub-groups that are private. This wouldn’t be surprising, since I do the same in my own iOS community.
It makes me wonder if I should ask for money for my sessions.