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blog-world-expo-2009For the second consecutive year, I made the pilgrimage to the holy land that is Las Vegas for Blog World & New Media Expo, which ran from October 15-17.

Attending conferences like this is always a reunion of sorts where I hang out with people I already know and meet people face to face for the first time. Of course, there are plenty of new people, too, and opportunities to learn, share and have fun. I spoke on a panel and at a booth and had a book signing, as well.

One reason that this conference was different from every one that I have gone to before was because it was the first one attended by my brother Sean, a college student. It was great to have him with me during the event. For a majority of the time, I hung out with him and my friends Brandon Eley, Chrispian Burks, Stephan Segraves and Wayne Sutton.

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ifroggy-hostingGenerally speaking, one of the bare bones expenses when it comes to running your own online community is web hosting. Having your own web hosting where you have access to all of your website’s files, your databases and everything that goes into running your site allows you to have complete control over what you have online, to have the flexibility to do what you need and the ability to fully back it up.

Realizing this, more than seven and a half years ago I partnered with an establish web host to create iFroggy Hosting. Our goal wasn’t to be the cheapest, but to offer a good value for what you get with a high quality of service and excellent support.

I don’t just recommend these services, but also use them myself. The very same servers play host to my two most active communities in phpBBHacks.com and KarateForums.com. If I have an issue or a question, I talk to the very same support desk that all iFroggy Hosting clients do.

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Crossbuck
Creative Commons License photo credit: MPD01605

Not long ago, someone from a very well known, reputable charity spammed one of my communities. I’m not going to mention the name of the charity because it’s not important. I’m not looking to shame them and they are not the point I want to make. It’s not like this is the first time that this has happened. It’s not even a big deal. Spam is spam is spam, for the most part. But, it brought to mind something I wanted to talk about.

When a community doesn’t allow advertising, self promotion, spamming or whatever they call it, generally speaking, those guidelines apply to everyone. Google, Disney, mom and pop, personal blogs, non-profits, charities, whoever. Unless the guidelines specifically make an exception, everyone plays on the very same playing field.

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There’s Nothing Wrong with Being “Just” Forums

Posted by Patrick on December 16th, 2009 in Thinking

I feel like I need to say this: there’s nothing wrong with a community being “just” forums. Nothing at all. There’s this push in some circles for them to be more and that’s cool. I love when people try new things. I encourage everyone to explore their ideas. That’s how we get better, that’s how we learn. But, problems arise when we think that forums by themselves need anything else. They don’t.

First, this is nothing new. People have, for a very long time, had sites with forums that weren’t simply about forums or whose focus was not forums. So, that’s not new. Either approach can be awesome. They’ve always been a great complement to other things – and they’ve always been fine by themselves.

MySpace grows leaps and bounds. Facebook hops in next. Twitter’s all up in this. Various other buzz brands pop up, as well. vBulletin starts developing into more of a social network application. That’s all great, there is plenty of room. I love all of it, please keep going. But, don’t use this as a means of saying forums are not good enough by themselves or that they are better with more things.

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Happy Holidays!

Posted by Patrick on December 12th, 2009 in ManagingCommunities.com, Off Topic

The holiday season is here and I wanted to take a moment to wish you Happy Holidays!

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented on and linked to my posts or otherwise supported me or ManagingCommunities.com in 2009. I really appreciate it.

I wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2010!

Thank you for visiting ManagingCommunities.com.

Cannon of Malvern Hill  #2
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rob Shenk

I was talking to a member the other day, in what was a very serious conversation about that member’s future on the site. Part of that conversation was an attempt on my part to get the member to refocus on what the community is about and not to get out of hand in discussions where people disagree with you.

This veteran member had been challenged many times by a new member. The new member disagreed with a lot of what they said. Instead of taking it as he should have, and setting an example for the new member as an established member, he took it as a battle, as if discussion on our forums was some sort of war. And this carried over into numerous other threads. This was very disappointing to me and my staff.

Now, there are plenty of communities that are basically militant debate clubs. And that’s totally cool. But, that’s not what my communities are. We aim to be a friendly discussion community. Friendly doesn’t mean that everyone agrees. It means that when people disagree, they do so politely, respectfully and thoughtfully, focusing on the points of the discussion and not on attacking the person who made the points.

Even so, sometimes, members get carried away, as we all do. Where disagreeing with someone becomes a petty game or a battle. That’s not what I want. And so I told this member, exactly: “Discussions are not warfare; this is not a battlefield.”

I continued to tell them that this wasn’t about the member, the person who disagreed with them, me or our staff: this was about the community as a whole and what it stands for. And we don’t stand for this. I believe the member got the message and hope that we turned a corner.

Derek Jeter
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wigstruck

Derek Jeter, the shortstop of the New York Yankees, recently capped off an incredibly successful year when he was named as the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Tom Verducci, a writer for the magazine, wrote an impressive profile of Jeter and there was one portion that jumped out at me because of how it applied as a general principle of life, including what one should look for when selecting a moderator for their online community.

The section describes Jeter’s five dislikes, which are mostly things that can easily be related back to teammates he may have and what he wants out of them. Let’s break them down.

1. Individuals who don’t care about winning.

If a member is your staff is showing up just to show up because it’s habit or routine, wants to be on staff because it is a status symbol or something like that, they just don’t have the passion you need. The reason you’re here is to do well. If you take pride in your work, you care about what you’re doing and you want to win. People who care about your community, want it to do well and want it to be the best it can be are people you want on your team.

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Here’s another gem from the song “Victory” by Diddy: to close out his first verse on the song, Diddy raps: “While they making up facts, we raking up plaques.”

This speaks to a focus on one’s goals, even when faced with those who seek to harm, unfairly criticize or lie about you. Whether it’s competition, disgruntled ex-staff members or banned members – if you reach a certain level of popularity, you’ll see people make up facts about you.

“Patrick banned me for no reason.”
“Patrick stole my chickens and relieved himself in my garden.”
“Patrick eats chocolate covered crickets.”

But, you have to keep raking up plaques: you have to keep achieving, keep growing, keep working. Stay focused on your work, on being the best that you can be. When these people are too busy thinking about you, they’re not getting enough work done and they’re falling behind you.