In the process of designing platforms for online communities, the expertise of maintaining and repairing communities is still often, surprisingly, absent. It’s possible that it’s because this expertise can be hard to formalize—it comes from the regular lived experiences that make us familiar with managing conflict, recognizing trauma, recovering from terrible policy ideas, learning what lurkers are thinking, negotiating what line should be drawn where, and most importantly—adjusting to what all that means this week in our community compared to last week.

Seeing communities through the lens of design can construct imagined ideals of how communities should work rather than how they actually work. Misinformation campaigns, harassment, toxicity emerge almost as surprising inevitabilities and traumatic experiences are erased behind forms that look like bug reports more than harassment claims.

Kat Lo will share lessons from working “in the field,” from searching for options for targets of harassment out of options in the current social media ecosystem, from managing communities by cobbling together sparse moderation tools and converting trolls to allies, and from writing (and re-writing (and re-re-writing)) guides to help people survive disastrous side effects of platform designs and policies “working as intended.”

In this talk, she explores how UX work can support more responsible and sustainable social online environments by better understanding the work of the people who maintain them. How are the people doing the day-to-day work of maintaining your platform’s communities—customer support representatives, community managers, content moderators —part of the UX and design process?