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In early August, members of Shareable’s community—readers, writers, commenters, and sharers around the world—joined two online meetings to give us fantastic feedback about how Shareable can better serve the sharing movement. This event followed on the heels of our in-person San Francisco meeting on July 27, at which we received great input from our community.

Thank You to Our Community

All of us at Shareable extend a huge thank you to the 16 people who joined the meetings. We had participants from Australia, Canada, Spain, and the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast of the United States: Ashley McCartney (Connecticut), Christopher Patz (Canberra, Australia), Cristóbal Gracia (Barcelona, Spain), Dawnielle Castledine (Austin, Texas), Erica Etelson (Berkeley, California), Jamie Shea (Detroit, Michigan), Jason Yun (Los Angeles/San Francisco), Jesse Biroscak (San Francisco), Kate Drane (Chicago/San Francisco), Kevin Bayuk (San Francisco), Kevin Jones (San Francisco), Maritza Schafer (Melbourne, Australia), Melissa O’Young (New York), Michael Stoll (San Francisco), Sharon Ede (Adelaide, Australia), and Shawn Williamson (Brooklin, Canada).

Highlights

During both meetings, participants were most interested in talking about how Shareable can help readers and users (you!) to better engage with each other online and face to face (similar to what we heard at the San Francisco event). Event listings and providing local information (a map or geographic listings) were both popular. There was also support for the monthly challenges to try sharing. During both online meetings, a predominant suggestion for improving the website was to make it more welcoming to new people. Finally, there were suggestions for article topics and an idea for a legal and policy resource related to sharing.

All of this feedback is explained in detail in the sections below.

Next Steps

We're planning to do a survey to see which of these ideas have the strongest support from our community. All of this great input from our users will be combined with feedback from other stakeholders, including our board and funders. Given funding constraints, we know that we won't be able to implement all of these ideas, at least not in the near term. So we'll work on prioritzing these ideas to see which most fit our mission and best serve our users and the sharing movement. We'll keep you posted as we know more.

In the meantime, feel free to add any additional thoughts or feedback in the comments below.

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Engaging Online and Face to Face

  • Events and meeting people: Several people said that they find it hard to meet other sharing people in their areas and would like to connect with others. Ashley and Cristóbal thought that event listings would be helpful. Kate and Dawnielle suggested having a scalable framework for events that others could use, and that Shareable could provide resources on how to hold events and how to get people involved. Cristóbal suggested that events need to be different to attract people (he suggested gift circles as one idea), and that there should be photos and videos to show that the community is having fun.
  • Monthly challenges: Sharon suggested having regular online challenges (e.g. “Try carsharing this month”)—similar to what was suggested at the San Francisco event. People could earn badges for participation and their status would be based on how much they encourage other people to be involved and get other people to try sharing. Jesse pointed out that this could be a way to help startup sharing services get traction with new users.
  • Local information: Sharon and Christopher suggested that people have a way to find the local assets that are near them, such as tool-lending libraries). This could be accomplished with an online map or with local “pages,” similar to how Craigslist geographically categorizes information.
  • Statistics: Sharon would find it helpful to have a place to get statistics and up-to-date information about participation in the sharing economy, and Jesse said that this would also help businesses to estimate the size of their target markets.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel: Martiza admonished us to not “reinvent the wheel” and to integrate with internet tools that already exist instead of trying to build everything ourselves. Similarly, Jesse said that it would be helpful to integrate events between Shareable and MeetUp/Facebook. Erica suggested beefing up Shareable’s presence on LinkedIn and creating a LinkedIn group for people who work in sharing economy businesses.
  • Other advice: Kevin Bayuk said that he’s seen initiatives and sharing be held back by a lack of trust, so helping to build trust—whether by developing a network, or enabling networks to establish trust better—could be a role for Shareable. Similarly, Cristóbal emphasized the importance of building strong relationships between sharing advocates. Jason advised that Shareable embrace new people who join, and for events to remember that people have lots of reasons for why they share, and therefore to figure out a clear theme that welcomes everyone. Kevin Bayuk recommended engaging with and meeting the needs of returning users who aren’t just looking for new stories, but who might engage through a map, calls to action, or through networks.

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Website Improvements

  • Welcome new people: Maritza pointed out that the articles that appear on the home page can be difficult to understand for people who are new to these topics. She and Kevin Bayuk recommended that Shareable welcome these people and have a clear starting point that would help orient and introduce them to these concepts. It could include information for those who want to know how to share and want to get more involved. Dawnielle built on this idea by suggesting a gateway that would provide deeper information to those who are logged in.
  • Design for the audience: Sharon, Jesse, and Kevin Jones all asked about Shareable’s audience. Sharon recommended that we should design the site to provide the information they’re looking for. Jesse suggested that we could use a popup window to ask a single question to find out more about who readers are, and adjust the mix of content over time to better match the audience.

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Website Content

  • More articles: Christopher suggested having more articles about laws and regulations. Jesse suggested more content on the economic and environmental benefits of sharing. Erica suggested that Shareable write profiles of cool sharing businesses.
  • Legal resources: Sharon, Jesse, and Michael hashed out an idea for providing a legal and policy resource that would track changes to public policy and laws around the world related to sharing. It could be crowdsourced so that Shareable writers wouldn’t have to provide all of the content. And instead of being a collection of ongoing articles, it could be structured more like a wiki or database with up-to-date information.
  • Other ideas and feedback: Kevin Jones suggested that Shareable could include a newsfeed from KickStarter or Indiegogo of crowdfunding initiatives related to sharing or collaborative consumption. Kevin Bayuk suggested looking at Make Magazine’s content and how they’ve organized their website. Erica thinks that Shareable’s Community Blog posts aren’t very good and drag down the overall quality of the rest of the articles.

Want More?

If you’re curious, you can see the full transcripts of both meetings, and videos of both meetings are below.

Online Meeting #1 – Asia/Pacific – August 7, 2012

participant feedback starts at 09:00 on the video – or see the full transcript

Online Meeting #2 – Africa/Americas/Europe – August 9, 2012

participant feedback starts at 08:30 on the video – or see the full transcript

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SethSchneider

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SethSchneider

I was Shareable's Online Community and Fundraising Director from January 2012 through January 2014.


Things I share: I don't own a car, so I share cars by using City CarShare. I have borrowed through Neighborgoods, given and received things via Craigslist, Freecycle, and Yerdle, exchanged on swap.com, and participated in the BACE Timebank.

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