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In the past, I’ve seen forum owners and managers suggest that it was harder to grow their forums or their hosted community because of people spreading their time out across different forms of social media. I think that’s probably true, but I don’t see it as a bad thing.

What we’re seeing is platform diversification. Forums are fine. We just have more options, and we use the options that best fit a particular need.

But if you run a forum or a hosted community, you have to accept a simple reality: people will spend time on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. Once you accept that reality, you can begin to utilize these platforms to offer community members more value and to engage with them – and others – with the idea of driving traffic back to your community.

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PatreonI see Patreon as a really interesting community platform. The service allows creators to receive financial support directly from those who appreciate their work. It’s become really popular and is used by all types of creators: YouTubers, musicians, cartoonists, writers, podcasters, artists, photographers, filmmakers and more.

The longer I thought about it, the more I decided it would be fun to experiment with it for my work here.

If you look around at this site, you’ll see it really isn’t built for consulting. Even when I receive those emails, once in a while, I usually decline or recommend a person for them to talk to. Consulting isn’t the point of my work. I view myself, first and foremost, as a resource for fellow practitioners. I love to offer whatever support I can to professionals in this space, and those aspiring to be one.

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I guess my first community role was probably when I moderated a community that related to my personal interests. It was back in the 1990s and I was a moderator for years. I made thousands of posts and was even promoted to senior moderator.

I’m sure I learned numerous things during my time there. But there is only one thing that stands out to me, years later. There is only one story I still tell regularly, even 17+ years later.

During my years there, I estimate the administrator I worked under thanked me approximately twice.

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Credit: yoppy (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: yoppy (CC BY 2.0)

Friday marked an incredible milestone for one of my moderators: Heidi Wilmott, known on KarateForums.com as ninjanurse, has been a moderator with me for 10 years. 10 years! It’s amazing.

It’s rare to manage the same community for 10 years, let alone to have a moderator with you, at the same community, for 10 consecutive years. I have managed KarateForums.com from the start, and the community will hit 14 years online on Thursday. Heidi has been a member for more than 12 years and 3 months and will have been a staff member for 12 years come June.

I think that Heidi’s accomplishment says some interesting things – about her, the community and me.

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Flickr Auto TagsWhen I opened Twitter on Monday, one of the first tweets I saw was this message from Heather Champ. Champ, a well-respected mind in community circles, is the former director of community at Flickr, a role she held for five years.

In the tweet, Champ criticized Flickr’s decision to automatically apply tags to previously uploaded photos. These tags were generated by image recognition technology. She called the move “so community hostile that I fear my head may explode from even thinking about it.” In a follow up tweet, Champ further highlighted a settings page within Flickr where she had specifically indicated that she was the only person who could add tags to her Flickr uploads.

Jessamyn West, also well known in the community space due to her work on MetaFilter, tweeted similar criticism.

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Ban All the ThingsFunny things happen when I write about the ability to ban people from an online community, as I did a month ago. I think it makes people uneasy, like it’s not something I should be talking about.

Some feel compelled to tell me how they don’t like to ban people, as if writing about it suggests that I do. Others tell me they prefer to take a softer approach, like I am a ban-crazy maniac. I prefer a lot of things – it doesn’t mean that all scenarios actually end up where I prefer. When I write about banning, the meme image to the right is how some see me, I’m sure.

And then there are the rare occasions where someone says they have never banned anyone.

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I’ve been a fan of Fabolous for a long time. Recently, the rapper has been releasing a freestyle every week as part of his Friday Night Freestyles series. My favorite, thus far, is his “All for the Love Freestyle,” which uses the beat from “All for the Love” by The Lox. Please note: the song, embedded below, is explicit.

The original “All for the Love,” which features only Jadakiss from The Lox, has been a longtime favorite of mine. Fabolous’ freestyle has a number of great lines that stood out to me, but perhaps none as much as this one:

“Money ain’t the root of all evil now. Attention is.”

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Sean “Diddy” Combs is working on a new album, which I’m excited about. He recently posted some studio footage. The brief clip has a few seconds of a song, which Combs stops and then remarks:

“We’re making a feeling, people. Not a record. A feeling.”

They aren’t just creating an album or a sound or a song. They’re creating a feeling.

That’s how I look at online community. I don’t just want to create a website or a meetup or a group. I want to create a feeling. When I think about community, the first thing that flashes to mind isn’t software or numbers. I think about people. I think about feeling. How do I want people to feel when they visit this community?

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This is What Community Strategy Looks Like

Posted by Patrick on April 30th, 2015 in Resources

Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

If you want to know what community strategy looks like, watch the video embedded below. It’s a presentation delivered by Bill Johnston at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit in October of 2014.

The presentation centers around the strategy that Bill put into place after becoming Director, Online Community & Customer Experience, at Autodesk in February 2014. Previously, they had a broken, disjointed community strategy – that he refers to as “no community strategy” – that suffered from a serious over-reliance on Facebook. When Facebook cut organic reach, they were hit hard.

There’s really no one I hold higher in our profession than Bill. He left Autodesk in February to start Structure3C, where he helps businesses grow customer communities.

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The Blueprint for a Successful reddit AMA

Posted by Patrick on April 27th, 2015 in Resources

The Marketer's Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanniI took some time, this weekend, to read The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. It’s a free guide, 30 pages in length, available if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Paul and David are focused on helping marketer’s use reddit in a way that is authentic and respectful to the community. If it’s for marketers, why am I writing about it here? Because it’s really a guide to hosting an AMA, and AMAs, when done right, are definitely a form of community building.

David has written a couple of guest posts here. If I had a question about reddit, I’d ask them. And that’s why I read the guide.

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