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Most forum software in existence features a word censor. This is a valuable feature that allows you to block certain words, terms, URLs/links and other text content from being posted on your community. The most common ability that you are given is the choice to turn a word into something else.

The best use of this, in my experience, is to simply change any inappropriate terms into an asterisk (“*”). This stops the word from being posted while not hinting at what it is or playing games by changing the word to something else, which I generally view as counterproductive. This was how I used it myself.

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We All Have a Community

Posted by Patrick on February 25th, 2010 in Thinking

If you offer a product or a service, you have a community. It may be small or large, local or international and you may not even acknowledge it, but understand this: you have one.

Your community is comprised of those who use, enjoy and support whatever it is that you do. There was a time when engaging your community was a costly endeavor. Telephone? Postal mail? Yeah, fan clubs were cool and they were better than nothing, but they were bulky and required, in many cases, substantial investments with sometimes limited returns. The internet changed that.

Now, you can readily engage with your fans, your supporters, your community through communities that you host and through communities at other sites, like Facebook and Twitter. You can now easily communicate with masses of people with the press of a button. Or, a handful of people, if that is the size of the community.

The question isn’t whether or not you have one, the question is: what do you do with it?

I’ve been working on booking speaking engagements for 2010. I’m talking to a number of different parties and hope to have more announced soon, but as I have a pair that are fast approaching, I thought I’d mention them as I always like to meet people at the events I attend. Not only will I speak at the events below, but I will be attending them each and every day.

On March 13 at 12:30 PM CT, I will be co-leading a Core Conversation at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive with Twanna A. Hines. It’s called “Shameless Self Promotion Without Looking Like an @#$%^&!” Here’s the short description:

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I organized and moderated the “Social Media: The Bad and The Ugly” panel at Blog World & New Media Expo last October (see my recap). It had a wonderful lineup featuring Amber Naslund, Director of Community at Radian6 and blogger at Altitude Branding; Wayne Sutton, Partner at OurHashtag and blogger at SocialWayne.com and Robert Scoble, Managing Director at Building43.com at Rackspace and blogger at Scobleizer.

If you’ve attended a lot of panels or presentations in this space, one thing you notice more and more is the backchannel and the influence it has (or doesn’t have) on the presentation in question. Sometimes this is beyond the speaker’s control, perhaps they are surprised by a massive scrolling screen of messages behind them. These days, this is often powered by a Twitter search.

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My Presentations Are Now on SlideShare

Posted by Patrick on February 15th, 2010 in ManagingCommunities.com

slideshare-logoAs part of my work on my new about and speaking pages, I wanted to create a profile on SlideShare and upload all of my past presentations, making it easier to share them and share the style of my slides.

Just in case anyone is interested, my username is iFroggy. Here is one of the presentations that I have uploaded, from one of the panels that I was on at Social Media Business Forum 2009:

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Chairman's Challenge Cup
Creative Commons License photo credit: dan taylor

I love yearly award programs for online communities. I think the act of rewarding your members through your own version of the People’s Choice Awards is a beautiful thing and something that, when done with care, can add a nice touch to your community.

In October, we ran the eighth (8th!) annual KarateForums.com Awards and in November, the seventh annual phpBBHacks.com Awards. You can follow the program through my announcements by viewing the call for nominations (KarateForums.com, phpBBHacks.com), for votes (KarateForums.com, phpBBHacks.com) and, finally, the announcement of the honorees (KarateForums.com, phpBBHacks.com). Please feel free to borrow from my posts and how I word things and organize the programs.

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It’s important to be proactive on matters of content theft and copyright infringement. A large part of this is text quoted from other sources. With some exceptions (public domain works, works by the Federal Government, works released under alternative licenses to copyright, and more), you can’t allow your members to post entire text articles that they did not author or hold no rights to, source or no source.

But, that doesn’t mean that they can’t quote some portions that are properly attributed. Fair use is an exception to copyright that, among many other things and without getting too legally technical, allows you to quote excerpts of someone else’s work with proper attribution. Fair use isn’t a law as much as it is a defense.

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Elephant in Chobe
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gusjer

You’ve got a brand new community on basket weaving. You badly want people to come to your site. So, you go to the largest basket weaving community on the internet and start discreetly inviting members. Maybe you instant message or e-mail them off site, so that the people running the established community won’t notice. Maybe you use the private message system. Perhaps you even post on the community, too, to appear as a well meaning member. You’re really on your way now, right?

No, you’re not. Instead, I would say that you’re building your site on an old burial ground. And you know how that ends up. Bittersweet success haunted by the ghosts of the past that you’ve violated. Not everyone will agree with me, some will tell you that this is fair game or that it’s not hurting anybody. That it’s simply competition. But, not me.

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