What makes the Articulate Community great?

Jan 17, 2012

Hi All,

I was reading the post mentioned on the Word of Month Blog @IWantToELearn shares a link to 5 reasons to join Articulate e-learning community and I have to say I agree completely. I was actually thinking about this early this week as I was using the Moodle forum site and realised how much I hate it.

I don't know about you, but I am constantly checking the forums to see what people are saying, checking out screenr to see if there is something new and I wait religiously for the Word of Mouth and Toms blogs (even outside of work!) just because its so interesting!

I want to ask you all... What do you think it is that makes this community great? I want to start setting up learning communities for my students to share ideas etc and I want to make it something students want to get involved in, not something compulsory!

My starting ideas are:

  • The design is appealing - it's clean, interesting and over all visually engaging (compare it to the Moodle or adobe sites...yuck - no offense to anyone out there!)
  • The amount of knowledge - it's amazing the amount of time people are prepared to put in to answering questions, like creating screenrs etc.
  • The care the staff put in to answering every post.
  • The free stuff - we're all love a good freebie!

Anyway, these are a few of my thoughts. I'm also interested in knowing if anyone else is a part of a community they think is great as well??

Ideas anyone?


14 Replies
Tracy Parish

Here's something that stunned me over the last week.  You mention the amount of knowledge that is shared and I agree it's incredible, but have you actually noticed the VOLUME for knowledge as well.

I recently thought "I know I'm missing a bunch of posts in the community", so I subscribed to all the forums.  Easily on any day there are 250-300 posts coming from this community.  

That is incredible and that is what keeps it alive, robust and thriving.  Without activity a group is nothing and fades away.  This group is truly a community of learning, not merely a group sharing a few thoughts.  We are growing, learning, and sharing with each other daily.

That's what makes it special to me.


Kristen Hull

My first thought after reading your response was to compare the Articulate and Captivate forums, and then I clicked your link.  I see the original article was written by a former Adobe guy.  I was wondering what happened to him!  I liked his sessions.  

Anyway, besides all the stuff that he covered and you listed...the biggest difference to me between Articulate and Captivate is a level of respect and helpfulness amongst the community.  With the Articulate forums, people are REALLY trying to help each other out.  They give positive feedback and quality suggestions in such a friendly, respectful manner.  One question receives numerous numerous responses.  Sure people get frustrated with product issues, but Articulate handles it really well.  At Captivate, people just aren't as helpful to each other (except for about 3 experts who don't seem to work for Adobe).  Comments and questions sit there forever.  When someone actually anwers, there is a lot of back and forth because no one can seem to make themselves clear (they need ScreenR).  It is a really frustrating experience.

Tom Kuhlmann

@Kat: from a community management perspective you are on the right track.  You can't create a community but you can foster it and tend to it.  The activity is really a result of engaged community members.

What you can do is model what you want in the community.  People will follow the lead.  I'd also say what we have going at Articulate is a culture that wants to see the Articulate user succeed.  That's our focus and what we're committed to.

Natalia Mueller

Some of this has been said at this point, but here are my favorites

  • I like the informality of the site and I believe that tone is set by the staff. The threads here really feel like conversations. 
  • I like the separation of Building Better Courses and Product Support.  When I post a technical question, the staff responds so quickly that I hardly break pace from whatever I'm working on. That fast turn-around makes this forum the first place I go when I need help. The same goes for the General Discussion and the many people willing to jump in and provide assistance, feedback, suggestions, etc
  • Piggybacked on that one... having so many people willing to help me out when I needed it (complete with examples and source files!) made me want to do the same for others. 
  • The complete lack of snarkiness is AWESOME. With such a wide range of skill levels, it's great to really feel like I can ask anything and see others do the same. I will abandon any forum where members are in any way disrespected and that just does not seem to happen here.  I don't know if those types of comments are removed or if they're just not happening.  Maybe it's because of the nature of our positions...not sure, but the overall positive atmosphere is a big element for me.   
Louise H

Only recently I said to my colleagues, "I wish all forums were like Articulate's, they're always friendly and helpful!"

I've used a number of different product forums recently and nothing comes close. On some, my queries just gather cobwebs never to be seen again, or responses are vague and unhelpful, almost like other people don't want to share what they know. Here it's the opposite - the sharing of tips and experience is freely offered in abundance from staff and users alike - there isn't that implied "I know more than you do" attitude.

Here, I know I can easily ask a question and chances are that someone (or lots of people!) will very soon provide an answer or guide me in the right direction. And I can return the favour when I can.

Kim Hannan

I have to agree with what has been said so far.  I constantly reference this group as the model learning community.  At my company, we're moving towards a learner driven culture, and one of the biggest struggles is figuring out how to create a welcoming environment for everyone to actually want to join in on the conversation.  Many have suggested making forum discussions mandatory, and I truly believe that creates the opposite impact.

Every time I have needed help, whether from a technical aspect, or project/course ideas and contract positions, I have such quick responses.  Sometimes I get busy and don't get to check in for a week or two, but inevitably, I feel compelled to "pay it forward".  So many people have helped me in this forum, I feel a sense of obligation to help others.  Not as in "checklist/compliance/requirement" sort of obligation, but more so a "we're in this together" sort of way.

Another thought comes to mind when I think about the livelihood of this group: the visibility across networks.  From Twitter to Facebook, LinkedIn, and at conferences, users and Articulate staff are all noticeable.  There's a sense of pride in being a part of the group.  We all connect through several venues, and time, distance, and hierarchies don't matter.  

RJ Jacquez


I'm fairly new here but I really like the Articulate community and I want to chime in say thanks for mentioning the article I wrote on my blog "5 Reasons why you should join the Articulate Community if you are in eLearning." As I wrote in my article, fostering strong communities is the real 'killer app' these days for any company wanting to succeed, especially with the advent of Social Media, and no other company understand this better than Articulate. As someone who was on the inside working for Adobe for 6 years, my most frustrating thing was always the horror stories I heard from my customers regarding being put on hold for a long time or hung up on, or endlessly being transfered around, etc. I always felt that Adobe's support and customer care departments were constantly undoing all the work all of us did as Evangelists.

I plan on being a regular here and look forward to getting to know all of you better.

Melanie Sobie

Here's what I think makes this community great:

1. The people: Hands down, the people here are so helpful and willing to share, teach and guide each other. It is truly a learning community. I've read that one common trait with people who work as instructional designers is that they like to learn - this community forum proves that.

2. The active participation: Forums that are good but are not active will lose their usefullness. I check in almost every day.

3. The usefullness: The information shared on the forums is targeted for a specific purpose - using Articulate well. It isn't littered with other topics that you have to weed through to find the really useful information. I read threads that I don't think I have any interest in just because most of the time I will happen to learn something new that I might need later or could make use of immediately.

4. The dependability: Like Natalia said, if you are in a jam and post a technical question you know you won't have to wait long for help.

Finally, I just want to say how impressed I am in the support and participation from the Articulate corporation itself. I have never used a software program that had this much free tech support, training and resources. I just looked at the company's mission statement and "#5 Empower everyone to become an e-learning hero." says it all!

Gabe Anderson

Thanks for all the praise! Love to read threads like this. And, of course, it's all of you who make this community so unique.

One other tip when launching your own community forums: It's good to wait until you have a critical mass of users or customers. You don't want a community that's an echo chamber. When we launched our original forums in 2006, we didn't have as many customers as we do today, but we had enough that the timing was good to launch (and prior to that, we might not have had the traction we needed to get enough community participation).

Of course, the social web is also a lot more viable today than it was 6 or more years ago, so that also helps... earlier today I came across an email newsletter we sent out nearly 8 years ago shortly after launching the Word of Mouth Blog, and in it, I first had to explain what a blog was before promoting it.

Holly MacDonald

What makes the community great?

One thing that I notice is how integrated it is - great topics are highlighted in the word-of-mouth blog, queries are moved from twitter to the forum (and vice versa, when looking for more input it's promoted to twitter). Tom's blog is woven in there, too. You don't feel that you *have* to go to the forum for help, support or ideas. I think much of that is down to the staff who really moderate and manage the community. It's a mix of organic/user-driven and yet curated and shaped by staff/super users.

The personal/visual support - I always like how questions/suggestions are answered with a screenr, and answers, especially staff ones, are mulitple links. This makes it easy to follow, but also conveys the personality of the staff and how approachable and supportive they really are. Think about how you can do that with yours

How to apply this to your own community?

Think of it as an instructional design challenge, not just a "how can I make my community as great as Articulate's", which might be hard. For example, when I managed a group, I used to do an email round-up to demonstrate the value of belonging and participating in this particular online community b/c my users were more email users than community/forum users. That might be a way to ensure people are involved. Think about it as a part of your instructional strategy and  maybe check out Innovative Performance Support as a way to design it. This is a blog post that describes their 5 moments of need approach: http://performancesupport.blogspot.com/2007/11/beginning-discussion.html

The pay-it-forward culture is not just staff, so as Tom noted above, model what you want and encourage those things when you see them. I'd read "Switch" by the Heath bros http://www.heathbrothers.com/switch/ for some great inspiration on change, which might help.

Hope that helps Kat, but please realize that there is a bit of magic in this community that might be really hard to duplicate!

Kevin Dowd

For me it is the cleverness of the people.  Everytime I hit a wall I think "I'm sure someone on elearning heros already figured out a clever work around for this."  Usually, there has already been a conversation about it somehwere in the forums too. 

If we think about learning theory (which we all love to do), there's also a part where you'll be more willing to spend time using every avenue you can think of to figure something out for yourself if you know that if you hit a wall, someone will be able to help you.  No one wants to spend hours trying to figure something out with the full knowledge that you may never know the answer.

Many people in this community - not just the staff - know the system (and/or course design in general) backwards and forwards.  THAT provides a high level of value.

John Curran

Just couldn't resist making a contribution here!

In my view there are a number of contributory factors:

Articulate staff involvement - It's true that a good community is self sustaining but the effort and expertise that Articulate staff add to these communities is amazing. Clearly whoever runs Articulate has recognised what it means to run a business that thrives in a social media environment and has provided the time and space for staff to be properly involved. 

Keeping it simple - Articulate is actually a pretty simple tool - and there in lies it's strength. It makes it easy for new users to start down the DIY e-learning route but of course to really build good content these newbies need support. Articulate recognises this and these communities really do help transform what people can do with the tool.

Focus on the output - Lots of the help in these forums is about basic ID or PowerPoint skills. These aren't unique to Articulate but Articulate has recognised that supporting people in achieving a professional output means going beyond the boundaries of the tool itself. That's enlightened thinking.

Tom Kuhlman - worth his weight in platinum (not that I am implying he is overweight)

I run Articulate training courses in the UK and one of the most popular bits of my course is the one where we 'explore' the resources in this community. I look forward to what the community will do with Storyline...should be fun!

Jim Leichliter

I've been a part of the Adobe community since 2004 and I have to say you guys are light years ahead of the curve.  I'm astounded at the camaraderie, fellowship, and engagement you guys have.  Reading over the forums made me seriously envious...

  1. Responsive supports staff  (We're lucky if one of the Adobe Captivate Staff gods visits us mere mortals on the forums)
  2. Genuinely Helpful (non-snarky) encouraging answers not just from support staff, but from many enthused users
  3. Helping others not just with the products, but with eLearning methodology and practice

As RJ Jaquez has noted, I too have seen the deterioration of Captivate support.  I'm not sure what's going on inside the Adobe palace, but it appears from the outside that there's an apathetic attitude that's choking the life out of the community and consequently the product.    You all have something very special that I hope to be a part of.  I can't believe I was missing this all these years.  Looking forward to being a regular.  Keep up the great effort!

Jim Leichliter

Kat Fardian

See what I mean. I go away for a day and come back to an astounding amount of feedback! I must agree I never feel scared of asking a question because it might be stupid. You guys are right in that there is absolutely no snarkiness!

I also wonder if a large part of the success is the community its built for. I mean we're all in the learning industry so I assume most of us have a thirst for knowledge and like to learning somthing new just for the fun of it. Most of us are happy to share what we know because our job is to educated and we like to help and guide people.

I was just thinking about some of the sectors I worked for before e-learning and I find it hard to imagine some people there sharing their knowledge. I mean they might lecture you to show how important they were but they wouldnt consider sharing just to help you learn!

I gotta say as much as I would aim for my learning community to be as awesome as articulate I know that the articuate community is one of a kind and the best I can do is try to make mine half as amazing!

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