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Day 2 of the 30-day Community Challenge

As you know, I'm focusing the majority of my Google+ efforts on participating in Communities, and not publishing into my public stream (except to report on my efforts).

In our Space community, +Kevin Gill rendered this really cool hypsometric visualization of the far side of the Moon, as a special request for +Thad Szabo

We got a few more really cool astrophotos posted, and even a book review.

So what have I discovered...

- Moderating a really large Community is more like being the editor of a magazine. You're having to remove a lot of posts that don't meet your quality guidelines. I'm conflicted about that, but I've been reaching out to people and giving them tips and pointers about how to improve their posts and get better responses

- SPAM is more of an emotional drain than an actual time killer. I posted into the Community Moderators community about how you need to put this stuff into context.

- Everybody disagrees with me. Well... almost everyone, but mostly +Dan McDermott and +Allen Firstenberg (who is AWESOME and usually right on the money when he yells) 
Google Plus Week 12/28/2012

- Hangouts in Communities make absolutely no sense at all. I started a Hangout in the Space Community and participated for almost 3 hours. It wasn't public, but the people who showed up were totally random. Hangouts will be an amazing rallying point for Communities, once they make sense. Can I make some suggestions +chee chew?

- I need to find more cool communities. +mention me and let me know about your Community. I'll join and participate, giving you as much value as my time affords.

I'm taking the 30-day Google+ Communities Challenge. Join me, step out of your comfort zone.
Hypsometric (colored to display the relationship of differing elevations) visualization of the far side of the  Moon. Elevations are exaggerated by 3 times with an eye distance of around 5,000km. Rendered  for +Thad Szabo  using jDem846 using the LOLA 256 pix/deg cylindrical altimetry data.
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Looking forward to having you on the show again soon to duke it out on this! +Fraser Cain  :-)
+Fraser Cain "The space guy" :) . Somehow we need to get more amateur astronomers posting into the community. I would rather be looking at peoples own work that endless repeats of Hubble images. (you must be deleting a lot more that we see)
+Paul Stewart It's nice to not have to be "the space guy" all the time. I totally agree, and I'm getting more bolder about removing the oft-repeated Facebook memes and potentially insulting people. I'll get over it soon enough.
I'd love to oblige you all by doing some marvelous solar photography, but I seem to be somewhat short of this thing called "filthy lucre," which is apparently somewhat of a necessity in the field.
+Earl Hollar Curation is a valuable skill too - and totally free. Someone willing to dig up and present unique stuff to the community would be wonderful. 
lIya B.
+Fraser Cain what communities are you participating most apart from Space?
Actually, I'm fine with just a pulse.
Well if you want to get a bit more down to earth, so to speak, check out the Geoscience community: I'm dealing with the same issues as you are, but on a much smaller scale.  We're up at 2000 members now, and ever since we crossed ~500 the spam has gone up.  I'm also struggling with what to allow & what to remove, or how much moderation needs to go on at all.  Clearly we need to keep the posts on topic, but some posts that are technically on topic aren't very interesting.  
I'll be honest, the G+ Communities have grasped a LOT of my free time as of recent. And while I'm being honest, the Space Community is the one of the least viewed of the 6 Communities I'm in.

Now don't get me wrong... I LOVE astronomy. It's definitely one of my bigger interests in life... if not the biggest. I'm no super scientist/skeptic and consider myself more of a layman/wallflower, so a lot can go over my head in this Community. But that's how you learn... is by trying to understand the folks that know more than you do. On the other hand, I see a lot of questions pop up that I've seen answered in past Astronomy Casts and +Universe Today G+ Hangouts or are considered "trolling". Granted, I've been reading UT for over 8 years now (hell, +Fraser Cain, I even named my band after one of your UT articles, so I ain't no dummy when it comes to the Universe) and part of me feels bad for dismissing the newcomers who are genuinely asking questions, so that puts me in a weird gray area with this Community. At the same time I want to help educate, but I also want to enrich what I know so I can be better and more precise about educating people. But the Space Community is just way too busy and all over the place for me. I don't know a lot about physics and I'm not the best at math, so I'm a little intimidated to provoke conversation or debate. For  me personally, it's a tough spot in the middle thinking that my posts will get lost in the rapidly flowing stream of the newbies and the super-smarties... eventually thinking it's not worth talking about anything. It's like posting on Fark or Reddit... it either gets lost or picked up by the folks you necessarily don't want to have the conversation with. I also feel like there's no place for specific discussion, and posting in the general/public "forum" leads to an overwhelming overflow of G+ alerts... most that I usually look at with a raised eyebrow and makes me move on to a different Community I'm part of.

So here's my suggestion... and this is based on the Makers, Hackers, Artists, & Engineers Community ( MAKE MORE SUBCATEGORIES. First off, I LOVE the MHA&E Community. The reason for this is because of all the different subcategories I can view. I'm going back to school for CNC machining w/ CAD/CAM focus and want to know more about my field of study. While I'm seeking out info on CNC machining (which is there), I'm also gaining a LOT of additional info from this Community. I click on my Community with intentions of finding stuff about CNC machining, but reading items that reference the different subcategories have sparked my interest new things... things such as 3D Printing, Arduino/Raspberry Pi single board computers, and basic circuitry. I find myself sifting through all of the categories and gaining all sorts of new knowledge (and btw +Adafruit Industries, I'm still waiting on that CNC subcategory that I've politely asked about ;) ). It's nice because once you hone in on an interest and see a subcategory for it... you can get deeper into the topic. But you still have the "general" theme to go back on within the Community.. and that's like a nice little circle of info to get into.

The Space Community has a few different subcategories, but they're pretty vague. I vote for MORE. Things like "The Science Behind Extraterrestrial Life", "The Physics of the Universe", "How The Universe Conflicts/Coincides With Theology", and "Will Interstellar Space Travel Exist In Our Lifetime?" are a few examples of topics that could develop a rich and meaningful discussion among people in specific spots that are easy to access. 

I dunno. Those are just my thoughts. I could be wrong. I also have 9 beers in my systems and was planning on going to bed right before I saw this post about 20 minutes ago. So in a nutshell, +Fraser Cain, add more subcategories to your Community and get people focused on exactly what they want to talk about without feeling like they're left in the dust.

Since I joined Space from the start I am glad you'll post to your stream with highlights since I had to turn off notifications there due to vast quantities of posts and spam. 
+Jay Graf I really appreciate your feedback, and I'm continually setting my standards higher and higher. We're now removing all the drive-by posts, reprinted press releases and Facebook memes. We're also removing the quick questions, although, I still take the time to give many of them a personal answer. It's pushing the quality higher, I think.

I don't think subcategories are the answer. Really really firm moderation is the answer until the real Community members arrive and make the place self sustaining. But I see them arriving.  People like +Kevin Gill+Paul Stewart, and +Cory Schmitz who are taking the time to create unique and interesting new posts just for the Space community.

What did you call the band? 
Hey +Fraser Cain , my first reaction to communities was oh no, as I received about 17 invites the first day. However for leaders like you who are prepared to put in the time, the discipline will pay off. I'll take the 30 day challenge and assist we're I can. Keep up the good work.
I joined a number of space and science communities, then left them because the quality of posts was far lower than I get following individual people. Quality of communities IME seems to be inversely proportional to the number of members.
+Fraser Cain great post and very impressive curating job in your space community. Very much appreciated!
+Fraser Cain I can see your point with the moderation thing. Thinking about it, you probably do deal with a significant amount of "junk" posts since space is a much broader topic than hacking and engineering. It's weird because the MHA&E Community has way more people, but the spam and nonsense posts are way less... but I guess the admins must do some heavy moderation. You don't really notice these things from the user side. Ok, so maybe subcategories aren't the answer for weeding out lesser quality content, but I still believe that they make for a more interesting and robust Community. While I love astronomy, there are some aspects about it that I'd prefer to skip over (aka stuff I've read about a bazillion times) and get straight to the topics that interest me. It certainly makes it easier to find the info you want. Just my two cents.

The band is called +From Dust To Mountains, which was part of the title of a great article you did way back in the way-back-when ("When the Solar System Went From Dust To Mountains"). I've been doing this project for 4 years and still love that name. And appropriately, the band is heavy instrumental music influenced by the Universe. If you care, you can listen to it here: 
+Fraser Cain You are doing a great job! Most appreciated. You help me stay updated in astronomy. :-) Awesome Moon!
Not everyone disagrees with you, +Fraser Cain. And I find wielding the delete-and-ban hammer to be refreshing. Some need gentle guidance. Most need slapped hard. I'm happy to do both and am pleased my Digital Publishing community has grown to 1200+ people where we keep the conversation on track. 

Do we need more tools from Google? Absolutely. And we'll probably get those that make the experience better. They may not mirror exactly groups and discussion boards of the past. That's OK. Something new is good, right?
Let this be an emotional boost then. There are a lot of people who have a great amount of appreciation for what you do Fraser. Keep it up, this is one top notch resource and I love it. 
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