June 2022 Community Letter
Simbi’s story as an online community can be divided into distinct eras: its founding and growth as a venture capital-funded startup from 2015-2018, and its (slow, organic, volunteer-led) transition to a member-supported IRS-registered nonprofit organization from 2019 to today.
During its founding era, Simbi marketing team employees used every channel available, from social media and online advertising to sponsored “Simbi Swap” meetups, to inspire well over 100,000 individuals not only to join, but also to post hundreds of thousands of their skills and talents as Simbi service listings.
Eventually, it became clear that Simbi didn’t have a viable, ethical path forward as a “normal” social network business such as Facebook or Twitter. When active financial investment in growing the community had to cease, none of those many thousands of people’s skills or talents went anywhere — but the platform’s rules at the time automatically hid any member’s service listings if they didn’t log in very recently.
This algorithmic rule made sense for the company’s goals at the time, but by late last year it became clear that Simbi needed an organic way of identifying and re-engaging members from Simbi’s founding era who still want to participate, while still respecting the wishes of those who don’t.
So, last September, we switched to showing service listings by default for members with active profiles regardless of their last login date. But, we recognize that it’s no fun to reach out about services and never receive replies, which is why Simbi’s “service probation” algorithms remain strictly in effect, hiding a member’s services after multiple messages with no response, or if a member’s email address becomes invalid.
While these changes have generated some feedback from members searching for services that they get fewer responses, they have also resulted in some “founding era” members returning from multiple years of in activity to engage in new deals with current Simbi members, and this is an extremely important outcome for our community! To make it easier for current community members to decide who they’d like to reach out to, we’ve also made the “last active” indicator on member profiles more granular, describing what year they were last active instead of the catch-all “over a month ago” that was shown previously.
To sum up how we weighed this decision: we think that it’s currently more important for experienced, talented members from Simbi’s founding era to have an organic (deal-based) path back to community participation than it is for members to *always* get an answer when reaching out about a potential deal, especially when un-answered outreach attempts help hide those services over time.
Does this all make sense? Ideas and feedback from Simbi members like you are always welcome!