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Now that I have returned from Blog World Expo 2008, have had some time to catch up and process the experience, I thought I’d write a detailed personal recap, to share how the trip went and, also, to document it for myself, in the future. This is a super long, highly detailed post. Emphasis on personal and long. You have been warned. :)

Thursday

I was due to fly out late Thursday morning, on September 18. Only thing… my entire family was coming down with a nasty stomach bug. So, while I attempted to sleep, the sounds of them being sick woke me up and kept me up all night and I ended up receiving around four hours of sleep, or so. Not only that, but it felt like I was coming down with it because, an hour before I was to leave, I was sick. Lovely.

The main thing I thought of was how much planning had gone into this trip. I wasn’t just attending the conference, I wouldn’t just be out of a substantial amount of money. I had two panels and a book signing and I had other people that had worked for me to be there and were relying on me to be there. If there was any way I could go, I was going to go.

I basically told myself it was nerves, not an actual illness like the rest of my house (some might call this denial, heh), and pushed myself to get ready and go, make the hour and a half car ride and get to the airport, nauseous much of the time. Worse yet, I had a horrendous flight path. Norfolk, VA to Washington, DC to Los Angeles, CA to Las Vegas, NV. About 10 hours in all, from start to finish. I gritted my teeth and made it. The last one and a half plane rides were not bad as I started to feel better.

From the airport, the cab driver seriously – seriously ripped me off. I had no basis of what the proper fare was as I had forgotten to look into that. We’re talking double the regular fare rip off.

I got to the hotel, the Las Vegas Hilton, around 6 PM local time and met with my friends Brandon Eley and Chrispian Burks, for dinner. I hung out with Brandon and Chris for the vast majority of the conference. We had planned to head to a meet up hosted by my pal (and fellow panelist) Jason Falls, but we were dead tired – I was half falling asleep at dinner. So, that is where my first night in Vegas ended – in bed before 9 PM. But, I fell asleep the moment I hit the pillow and slept 8 hours straight – this turned out to be the only good night of sleep I’d get while at the conference.

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One phrase that I hear sometimes from community staff (not really mine, but others) is “we are human.” It’s often used as a means to excuse some sort of inappropriate behavior.

A staff member treats a member disrespectfully in public? We are human.

A staff member takes the bait a member gave them and reacts? We are human.

You remove a post you shouldn’t have removed? We are human.

Why can’t staff members be held to a higher standard than members? We are human.

Sometimes, it’s OK to say this, but a lot of the time, it’s just an excuse and it makes it sound like what happened, had to happen. When I make a mistake or my staff makes an error, yes, we’re human. But, that’s not what I want to say or what I want to hear people say to me. What I want to know is that we’ll work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

While we’re all human, saying so too much can render personal accountability non existant. Yes, mistakes happen. Yes, accidents happen. But, when you treat it like a neccessity, you do a disservice to your operation.

People have to be accountable for what they do. Am I going to string an otherwise great staff member up the flag pole for saying something off color to a member? No. But, I expect them to understand when I tell them what should have happened and I expect them to acknowledge it, indicating they’ll do what they can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

When it comes to dealing with public situations, while I’m not completely against invoking “we are human,” it has to be used in rare cases when it really has meaning, to have any effect. If you say it all the time, it just becomes a tired excuse.

I’m Back!

Posted by Patrick on September 24th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book), ManagingCommunities.com

I just wanted to mention that I am back from Blog World Expo. Outside of how I slept and felt in the mornings, it went great and the book signing and panels were awesome. I plan to post a detailed recap, but that will take some time, so I just wanted to get a post up, letting you know that I had returned. I appreciate your patience.

You probably already know this, since I’ve talked about it so much, but I’ll be in Las Vegas for Blog World Expo from September 18th through September 22nd. This means that it may be a little longer between posts than usual here during this time.

The conference itself runs from the 19th to the 21st. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and talking with a lot of people I already know. If you are coming, I’d love to meet you – please stop by one of the events I’m participating in or send me a note on Twitter and we can try to meet up!

After the conference, I’ll have videos, a recap and more.

Thank you for visiting ManagingCommunities.com.

Unfortunately, BlogHer Greensboro has been cancelled. I had registered and was planning to attend. However, I will still be attending ConvergeSouth and I look forward to it.

My Blog World Expo Schedule

Posted by Patrick on September 15th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book), Press

I’ve been talking about it for quite a while now, but with Blog World Expo almost here, I wanted to go ahead and post my full appearance schedule. Please let me know if you are going to be coming to any of the following. I look forward to meeting a lot of new people.

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Book Store on Second Floor (RSVP on Facebook)
Book Signing: “Managing Online Forums”
Joined by Rohit Bhargava, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy & Marketing at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He’s the author of “Personality Not Included” and we’ll both be signing copies of our respective books.

12:15 PM – 1:15 PM: Room 219
Panel: “How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers & Sock Puppets”
Joined by Rick Calvert, Founder of Blog World Expo, John Chow of John Chow dot Com, The Tech Zone and TTZ Media and Jeremy Schoemaker of ShoeMoney.

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Room 227
Panel: “Avoiding Disaster: How Not to Use Social Media”
Joined by Lee LeFever of Common Craft, Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer, Doe-Anderson and Blogger, SocialMediaExplorer.com and Darren Rowse, Owner, ProBlogger.net, Co-Founder and VP Training, b5media and Co-Author, “ProBlogger: The Book.”

Words are important. What you say is important, but how you say it is just as important. The words you use shape how your message is interpreted and how people react to it. I always stress this to the staff at my community. Communication is key. We need to be able to communicate our objections and what we must get across, but we need to try to do so in a manner that is not unnecessarily combative.

For this reason, I’ve been known to study my words on meaningful private messages or conversations with well established members, as well as important announcements and policy changes in general. I’m human, but that’s not an excuse (we’ll cover that in a post in the future). You have to consider what you say.

I believe that a great way to showcase this would be to give you a couple of examples of a private message that you might send to a member who had made a spam post on your forums. Here’s the first one.

Ryan,

I pulled your post below because you were being a jerk. If you’d like to keep posting here, don’t do it again.

“That’s your opinion? OMGLOL. YOU ARE A FOOL!”

Patrick

Here’s another one:

Hello Ryan,

Thank you for visiting KarateForums.com.

Unfortunately, I have had to remove your post quoted below as it violated our User Guidelines as inflammatory.

“That’s your opinion? OMGLOL. YOU ARE A FOOL!”

Generally speaking, an inflammatory comment is one that doesn’t add much to a thread outside of hostility.

Please keep this in mind to prevent further violations in the future.

Thank you for your time and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Patrick
KarateForums.com Administrator

The first private message may not seem too bad. But, there are a few issues that jump out at me immediately. “Being a jerk” is very combative and basically makes the issue personal. “Inflammatory” means a similar sort of action, on their behalf,┬ábut it’s easier to swallow and understand.

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If I may borrow a line from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

My book signing at Blog World Expo will be a dual signing, as I’ll be joined by Rohit Bhargava, the Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy & Marketing at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He’s the author of “Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get It Back.”

The signing is on September 21 at 10:00 AM and will be at the bookstore on the second floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Immediately before, Bhargava will be giving the opening keynote for the day, joined by Timothy Ferriss of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. (My brother is quite envious, as he’s a huge Linkin Park fan).

As I’ve mentioned, I’m going to be on a panel at Blog World Expo called “How to Deal with Trolls, Spammers and Sock Puppets.”

When I was on on Blog World Expo Radio on Friday, Rick Calvert, the founder of the conference, told me that a fourth panelist had joined the lineup. It’s Jeremy Schoemaker, better known as ShoeMoney. In addition to myself and Mr. Schoemaker, the panel will also feature Rick and John Chow.

One of the reasons I wanted to bring this up was so that I could point to today’s post on his blog, where he is asking for feedback on what we should talk about. So, if you have any thoughts, please feel free to let him know. It should be a great panel.

As Tropical Storm Hanna heads for me, I’ll be interviewed live on Blog World Expo Radio today at 3:00 PM ET. The Blog World Expo conference is fast approaching. If you are attending, please come to my panels and/or signing! My schedule is on the book website.

I’ll also be appearing on Zane Safrit’s show on Wednesday at 10:30 AM ET.

So, if you’re free, please tune in and participate! Thanks.