Community: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Blog Post created by awilliams on Jan 18, 2018

We do this community thing because we care about our users' success and we believe community plays a big role in that. It gives us a place to communicate with our users but more importantly it gives our users a place to communicate with each other. A lot of evolution has happened over the past 5 years since we started figuring all this out. One thing that has become apparent; Community is the gift that keeps on giving.

Community can be a gift you give yourself or a gift someone else gives you, but the nature of community is that it is the accumulation of other people and their shared wisdom and creativity. Simply by receiving this gift you make it that much more valuable. Over time, some users become more engaged in their communities. Being one of these users I can say that this comes with rewards all its own. The sense of extended family, ownership, and responsibility that is on offer to members of communities is quite appealing.

You may be familiar with the Canvas Coaches. This group of people take on a special set of duties here in the Community which largely involves helping keep an eye on various parts of the Community, connecting people and things, jumping in and offering answers and information when they can, and demonstrating the best of what it means to be a good Community member. You may also be familiar with some of the Community Rockstars that, while not official Canvas Coaches, do very much the same thing every day in their own ways. The list of people falling into the Rockstars category grows rapidly day by day. The activity and example of these members is our secret ingredient to success. It is what makes this operation scale. Those of us who “manage” this community would be powerless in the face of one quarter of a million users, tens of thousands of whom are active daily, if not for the blessing of so many of our members deciding to step up and be the change they want to see in the world.

As the lull around the new year wanes and we start to see the signs of Springpocalypse upon us, I would like to take a moment to quantify just how powerful all of this is.


Heartbeat of the Community Over a Year

Looking at the number of sessions on the Community website, you can see this platform really hit its stride around the fall of 2015. You may be able to detect a bit of a pattern. The highest peaks are Fallpocalypse (the lead up to and first few weeks of fall semester in US higher education), followed not long after by Springpocalypse. The valleys are the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. However, notice the difference in the peaks from 2016 and 2017. Almost a doubling of sessions in a single year - Wow! We find similar results when looking at other metrics such as page views and account creation.

Session data for Canvas Community since switch to Jive

Despite (actually because of) our growth, the helpfulness stays awesome.

There are a number of ways to measure the helpfulness of the community. One metric that is readily available is around questions asked. Looking at the last year of question data, the amount of questions has risen 50%. When you are already in the thousands of questions a 50% increase can seem daunting when your team is planned to grow by 0%. Everyone wants growth until they have it and don't know what to do with it. How in the world did we manage an extra 4,000 questions this year? Guess what. We didn't. You all did. More and more we see the trend of every day community members stepping up to act like Rockstars and offer assistance to fellow community members.

When the average member feels empowered and confident to offer help, the gift of community has transformed into a super power: A thing they can be proud of and use to achieve success for their own immediate needs, and as a good will savings account. This magic allows the entire system to scale at a surprising rate.


As of Jan. 2017As of Jan 2018
Total Questions8,00712,755
"with responses"772996.53%12,27696.24%
"with helpful answers"645480.60%10,03778.69%
"with correct answers"412951.57%5,57143.68%

question data trends for Canvas community

Besides growth, what else is changing?

So here we find ourselves. Consistent year on year growth in page views, questions asked, ideas shared, and another Springpocalypse upon us. Hang in there and keep acting like a Rockstar for those around you, because what you do is important. We will keep doing the same for you and we hope the Community continues to be an integral part of your success. I will leave you with a graph of the page views for the month of January over the last 2 years, and year to date data.

canvas community page view data in the month of january for the past 2 years


Now, let's have a conversation about what you think about Community. What questions does this bring up for you? What do you think is driving the change in our Community?