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I have a wonderful staff over at KarateForums.com. My team is comprised of 9 people, including 5 moderators. Those 5 moderators have been with me for a combined 35 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days (these are real numbers and those 3s are purely coincidental). This group of 9 is the strongest team that I have ever had the fortune of working with. They are excellent people with strong character.

Of the 5 moderators, two work in law enforcement. Brian Walker, who has been on staff since July 31, 2006, is a patrol deputy in Kansas. Alex Embry joined our team on December 2, 2008. He is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team. As long as they have been with me at KarateForums.com, they have been working in law enforcement even longer.

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I received an email the other day, from someone who asked for advice in dealing with inactive volunteer moderators on their community. I thought that might be a good topic to discuss here today.

Managing a team of volunteer moderators can be a wonderful, worthwhile and rewarding experience for everyone involved. I have managed volunteer moderators for many years, working with around 150-200 different individuals.

Where you can get in trouble is when communication breaks down. If you are responsible for managing volunteers, one of your primarily objectives is to ensure that never happens. You need to take ownership of communication and make sure everyone is always on the same page.

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SXSW Interactive 2015In a little over two weeks, I’ll hop on a plane bound for Austin, Texas, on my way to South by Southwest Interactive. Are you making the trip?

It’ll be my seventh year attending the conference – and I’m very happy to be speaking again this year. It’s a really fun, interesting and challenging event to speak at.

I’m leading “How CNN and The New York Times Moderate Comments.” Bassey Etim of The New York Times and David Williams from CNN will be joining me. Respectively, they lead comment moderation at those organizations. The basis for our talk is the interview I conducted with them and published here back in July.

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Jay Baer recently wrote about the importance of owning your “social community.” The idea of building community in spaces that you control is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and it’s good that someone like Jay is talking about it. That will help the message reach more big brands.

His article led to a discussion on Google+, where someone pointed to some examples provided by Jay – like The Home Depot Community – and questioned if they represented real “engagement.” They mentioned that there were discussions with a handful of replies and “no likes.” There were plenty of views of the discussions, but not a lot of replies. So where is the engagement, they wondered?

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Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial from Nationwide. The commercial, embedded below, revolves around a handful of little kids who are on the receiving end of some unsatisfactory customer service.

There is a boy on the phone, and he’s told by an automated greeting that his call is important, but his wait time is 55 minutes. This is followed by a girl attempting to get the attention of a server at a restaurant – the server walks right by her. You get the idea.

In the final example, a girl is frustrated and looking at her damaged car. Then a Nationwide representative appears and tells her that they’ll take care of the problem. Instantly, she turns into an adult woman. In other words, Nationwide is treating her as an adult, not a child.

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Facebook: Send for $1Last week, someone posted a question on PhotoshopForums.com. They had purchased a Photoshop action, which is a file that tells Photoshop how to do something, allowing it to perform that action on multiple files repeatedly. They work for a government agency and had used this action on approximately 70 images for their employer.

Unfortunately, they recently had some computer issues and, due to that, the action was gone. The company who sold it to them was also gone and had stopped selling actions. The person joined the community to ask for help finding the action. If they couldn’t find it, they would have to redo those 70 images – probably in addition to a few new ones – and it would create a bunch of work.

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Duolingo

After his great guest post about companies engaging on reddit, Dave DiGiovanni of MarketersGuidetoReddit.com is back again with a great example of a company that has created their own subreddit as a means of building community on the platform.

Duolingo is a fun, addictive and free way to learn a new language. The Duolingo Incubator is a community that was created to give users a process for generating new Duolingo courses. The Duolingo Incubator community is a great example of what is possible when a company embraces community. You can learn more about how that community was created and developed in this post on CMX Hub.

The Duolingo Incubator allows Duolingo to release new language courses at a much faster rate and is critical to their success, but it is not the only way they leverage the power of community. They have also created r/Duolingo, a subreddit on reddit that serves as a community for reddit users that are fans of Duolingo. The subreddit has almost 23,000 subscribers and multiple active discussions every day.

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Every so often, a message will cross my stream where someone is complaining that Twitter doesn’t work for them, they aren’t getting much out of Twitter, or they are simply done with it. That’s cool, everyone is different.

But I’m actually enjoying Twitter more now than I did a year ago. I have used Twitter to improve myself and to strengthen my connection with the people I care about most on the service. I wanted to talk about how that applies to my work in community.

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Bad reviews represent opportunity. On Tuesday, I received an email that illustrated this clearly.

The message was from someone that bought my book. But they almost didn’t. They said that they were going to buy my book, until they saw this review on Amazon. After they read that it was “outdated,” they decided not to buy the book.

Until they saw my reply to the review. Because of my reply, they went ahead and bought it, telling me that it looks great.

The review was written more than a year ago. Just like my reply. But reviews can live forever. I’ve heard plenty of people say that you should not respond to reviews of your book posted by Amazon. But if you know how to respond calmly and kindly, I think that’s bad advice.

It would have been easy to ignore that review. It has 0 helpful votes. This might lead you to think it’s not an influential review. But that’s the trap people fall into. If I had simply dismissed that review and decided not to reply, this person would have never picked up my book. They wouldn’t have emailed me, and I never would have known.


On Tuesday, ManagingCommunities.com marked 7 years online. I’m a bit under the weather right now, but I didn’t want to let that milestone pass without acknowledging it.

In 7 years, the community management profession has grown a lot. It’s an up and down road, like anything, but I think we are headed in a good direction. 2015 is going to be a really interesting year.

I really enjoy the opportunity to help professionals in this space. I am grateful for those who visit this resource with an open mind and allow me to help. When someone tells me that this blog or my books have helped them, that’s one of the most rewarding feelings that I can have as a professional.

Thank you to everyone who has shared my work online, commented here thoughtfully and offered me a kind word, in public or in private. It means a lot to me.

Sincerely,

Patrick