A meeting enthusiast is a person who is passionate about meetings. The term is an attempt of describing the diverse crowd of people who feel that meetings are an interesting phenomenon that is worth some attention. Or who have become experts in designing, organizing, or facilitating meetings. Or who simply sit in a lot of meetings and would like to understand them better and perhaps change them.

Because it is. Many online communities these days are build around some product or brand and hence ultimately aimed at selling something. Kunsido is all about meetings. We don’t try to sell a specific product or service but provide a space for anyone who does or who doesn’t. 

Apart from my passion for meetings, which have fascinated me ever since I started studying them in my PhD thesis, I do have an interest in the existence of this community because I want to study how people talk about meetings, what issues are salient at different times in different countries and how are they addressed, etc. Being able to follow these discussions online and to see what happens when meeting enthusiasts engage with each other is incredibly rewarding.

No, although Kunsido originated from an academic interest in meetings, it is not a purely academic community but brings together different types of meeting practitioners with (different types of) meeting researchers. Already the symposium itself was attended by several practitioners (see here who attended) so the idea is really to facilitate dialogue among people with different backgrounds.

The core of the kunsido website is the forum. You can use forum in two ways: to engage with other people like you and to learn about people with whom you have little in common except for an interest in meetings. When you join kunsido, you join a diverse community of meeting enthusiasts and this makes it easy for you to learn how other people work with meetings and to get in touch with them. But you can also join groups of more like-minded people in other cities, countries and continents for more specialized discussions.

The forum is just like your car: it relies on a lot of technology but virtually anyone can use it without much ado. You don’t even need a driving license! The best way to learn it is by taking it for a test drive. Once you login, you will be greeted by a robot that will briefly show you the most important buttons and off you. There is also a help section where you can get additional assistance.

To sign up, all you need is an email address.

We have to distinguish between the Kunsido community forum and the other parts of the Kunsido website.

The kunsido website is in English not because it should only be in English but because it requires joint efforts to create and maintain a multi-lingual website. I tried to signal this by using a non-English term as it’s name. Kunsido is Esperanto for “meeting”. Esperanto is a constructed international language, which means that nobody speaks it as their mother tongue. So choosing an Esperanto term, doesn’t only signal “non-english” but in fact “non-mothertongue language”

The forum is already multi-lingual to the extent that you can change the language of the user interface and when you’re logged in, you can even have the posts translated into that language (similar to the automatic translation on Facebook).

To start with, in the kunsido forum it is possible to change the language of the user interface (go to User Preferences -> Interface), and my hope is indeed that community members will simply use whichever language they prefer in the forum. You can also have posts translated into your preferred language: If your preferred language is different to the language of a post, there will be an icon (a globe) which you can click to see the translation.These translations are machine translations and hence not perfect, but they can help a great deal nonetheless.

But I also see that there is no point in someone posting stuff in their language if they have no reason to believe that someone will actually understand it, let alone be able to respond in the same language. So we need ways of supporting and encouraging the use of multiple languages. The first step in that direction is to make transparent which languages people would like to use in the kunsido forum. There is a language group requests category for precisely that purpose. The idea is that once we have a critical mass of people for a particular language, we will create a group for that language.

Having a group for a particular language opens up many opportunities that I can’t even start to mention here, but the simplest one is obviously that you can simply post messages to all members if that group.

Another powerful feature of our forum software is that groups can be mentioned in any post and that mention entails that members of that group will be notified about that post. So, for example, you can post something in French and add @french_speakers, you increase your chances that french speakers will read it and respond. Or if you are writing something in English but can’t find the right way to express yourself, you could write that part in French and mention @french_speakers so that they can help you find the right expression in english.

My aim is not to control the community, but, of course every online community needs some maintenance to make sure that it’s basic rules are complied with, to assist newcomers, to make sure the software runs smoothly and to improve it. To achieve this, kunsido, like many other online communities, will have to rely on a number of particularly committed community members who act as moderators and administrators. The forum software we use is basically taking care of that by identifying active members that are trusted by the community and gradually awarding them privileges that will allow them to contribute to the self-management of the community.

There is another dimension that the software does not (yet) take care of and that is to make sure that there are moderators for each language spoken in the forum. That is one of the reasons why we add new language groups only when a group has reached a critical mass of members. Of course, everyone is free to use whichever language they like, even without the existence of a specific language group. I don’t think that is a problem but rather an asset and the translation function, as imperfect as it may be, will help minimize language barriers as soon as it is implemented.

The value of kunsido is in the people who join and participate. So the first thing you can do is to tell your friends and colleagues about it and encourage them to join.

If you have technical skills in running a website and/or managing an online forum, or if you are a web designer who thinks that some aspects of this website could be improved, get in touch to see how we can distribute the workload across several shoulders and make the infrastructure for the kunsido community even better.
If you would like to help translate the site into your language, get in touch.
Finally, as an active participant of the forum, you will become a trusted member of the community who will gradually receive moderator privileges so that you can help this community thrive and remain a friendly and inspiring place.

As for paid advertising: no, we are currently in the happy position of not having to rely on advertising revenue.

 As for writing posts in which you explain why the benefits of your product, yes. I fact, we encourage you to do so because it gives community members an opportunity to critically evaluate and discuss your claims to the benefit of all. There is a specific section in the forum called “Marketplace” that is precisely for that purpose.

You are in the right spot. There are several ways how you can find an answers to your questions. First, you can search the forum for keywords related to the issues that you are facing and you might find that someone else has already asked that question and perhaps the answer will also work for you.

If you are looking for an academic meeting expert, you might want to pay particular attention to discussions in the research section of the forum. You can also get in touch with the people who discussed similar topics or you can find an expert via the various sub-groups of the forum.