How and why do you go from first exploring a forum, to ruling the roost? We've caught up with Vodafone eForum Community Expert Henry Malt to find out...
The Vodafone eForum is a thriving community designed to help people solve problems, get advice and engage in friendly chat. Our Community Experts are the volunteer bastions of the forum, but becoming one isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Here, we talk to Henry Malt (otherwise known as ‘hrym‘), one of the eForum’s newer Community Experts, on how and why he went from curious visitor to the top rank…
“I think I first got involved in the eForum when there were problems with sending emails on my phone,” Henry explains. “I was Googling for problems, found the eForum and I started posting to get an answer.” Finding an answer to a problem is how all of our Community Experts first got involved, but once that’s done, what makes people continue to come back? For Henry, it was the chance to learn new things:
“I don’t know exactly what made me stick around. I think I started chipping in on things and learned from other threads. I would learn about something, and then something else would come up that was related to it.
“It’s one of those things that snowballs,” he tells us. “You think ‘why the hell would you hang around a forum when you’ve got better things to do?’ – I was running a business at the time, after all. But I think the appeal was just that I like solving problems. I like technical matters, and I like learning about them. It was those three things rolled into one. I don’t take my phones apart or tweak the operating system every five minutes, but if something goes wrong I can often work out what the problem is even if I can’t fix it myself.”
With Henry repeatedly visiting and posting on the forum, it wasn’t long before he got promoted to Community Expert – a title that came as a bit of a surprise:
“I’m pretty sure that AnnS was the first Community Expert on the eForum I was aware of, but when I first started answering questions, it was mostly by repeating things I’d learned from [Community Expert] TheSoupDragon. He was like my original mentor, I learned a lot from him.
“Becoming a Community Expert myself was a surprise, because I used to look at these people and wonder how you get that title, and who decides. And then suddenly I got this message saying I was being made one. I just sat there with my mouth open, staring at the screen!”
But with great power, comes great responsibility:
“Being a Community Expert means that anything you post has a degree of authority,” Henry explains, “and you have to get used to that. It would be very easy to tip over and start saying all kinds of things like ‘I’m an expert. I know these things’, but you have to remember that you’re still just a regular poster – you don’t necessarily know any more than you did yesterday. When you get over that euphoria, you just go back to doing what you always did, except with a little badge on your name.”
The badge isn’t the only perk though: on top of that extra authority, being a Community Expert opens a few doors and, as Henry explains, can be a very social experience:
“Getting to know the people has been great. We had the CE day at Vodafone HQ a few weeks ago, and that was great. We all just gelled immediately. We’re all much of the same mind and we didn’t just talk about phones and Vodafone – we talked about all kinds of stuff.
“If you have some sort of common interest that isn’t a common thing, you discover that you get on with people.”
“We’re not sad people who sit in front of a computer screen all day!” he exclaims. “We’re all very different. If you have some sort of common interest that isn’t a common thing, you discover that you get on with people.”
And being a Community Expert also comes with the benefits of the Vodafone device loan programme.
“Sometimes a company like Sony will come along and lend you a phone!” Henry adds, referring to the Xperia Z1 he’s currently using. Recently, our Community Experts have been loaned phones from Nokia, Sony and Motorola. Click here to read our interview with Community Expert Nabs, who reveals more about the benefits of getting involved.
“Being involved in the eForum is a bit of give and take,” Henry tells us in closing. “You learn things and you solve problems, but then every so often something comes up that you need an answer for yourself, and sometimes you get rewarded for your help.”
Fancy joining? You can access the Vodafone eForum here.