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I recently had someone who wanted to post nude images in a thread on PhotoshopForums.com. When they learned they couldn’t, they made a sarcastic comment about how I was afraid that “little Billy” might see the images.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this, basically suggesting that because I didn’t allow nudity, profanity or something else along those lines, I was being a “soccer mom” or prude, or I was making a moral judgement of them.

It’s odd how people judge things or think they know something, when there may be much more to the issue than appears at first glance. Sometimes because they don’t like that they can’t do something.

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Back in September, nearly 10 months ago, Skimlinks co-founder Joe Stepniewski contacted me with an idea.

For a while, they had been kicking around the thought of releasing a whitepaper or ebook about forum monetization. They wanted it to be valuable and they wanted me to write it. One of the most interesting parts of Joe’s message? They wanted their one and only competitor to be mentioned right alongside them in the work. That caught my attention.

I was interested, but we had to work out some details. For it to be truly valuable, we agreed that it had to be independent and unbiased. I have a good, long term relationship with Skimlinks, Joe and co-founder and CEO Alicia Navarro and I think they are great, ethical people with a great product.

But, at the same time, them sponsoring the book creates an appearance of bias. It can’t be argued. So, how do we mitigate that? In the end, they agreed to something that I feel a lot of companies would balk at: to give me complete, unquestioned editorial control of the work.

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On a recent episode of “A Show,” Ze Frank tackled abusive online comments and aggression, which some might label as trolling, depending on the comment being made.

He discussed how he views the people who make them, what his approach to them is and what he’d like his well meaning viewers to do, if they encounter such a comment. He specifically referenced a comment on another video he put out where someone said they wanted to punch him in the face because his voice was so annoying.

“I think of those ‘punch you in the face’ comments as somewhere in between thinking a thing and saying it in public,” he said. “And I think that the repercussions should be proportionate. They should be blocked from ever interacting with us again. But, beyond that, I don’t think it’s worth thinking about.”

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Creative Commons License photo credit: cdedbdme

Sometimes, it is easy to think that the communities we manage will face dire consequences if we are not around for a while. And that thought leads to a fear of being away.

That’s understandable, but it’s not accurate or healthy. You don’t want to build communities that depend on you for simple existence. It says more about you if you are able to step away and have the world not end, than it does if you step away and it does.

This takes different forms for different communities. If you run a forum, you probably have moderators who can handle most issues. Even if you don’t have moderators, and the community is small enough, what’s the worst that will happen? So, your members may have to look at spam for a couple of days. Or some porn link. They are going to have to do that whether or not you are away because that stuff will stay up until your visit. This, among other reasons, is why it is important to set reasonable expectations with your members.

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As the community manager role has become a popular one, we’re seeing more and more companies and individuals try to generalize it.

On the individual side, you have a lot of people who have spent time working in a specific profession, who are wanting to become community managers, which is great.

But, it becomes challenging when they treat community management as the same thing they’ve been doing for years, when in reality they have had a completely different job function. They may have had to utilize some complementary skills, but complementary skills don’t necessarily translate to experience.

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There are a lot of community management professionals out there.

There are people with 10 plus years of experience in that space, at varying levels. People like Rebecca Newton, Jake McKee, Sue John and (cough, I’m not that old, cough) me. Then there are many people with 5-10 years of experience. I would put the majority of community managers in the neighborhood of 0-3 years of experience.

Many companies are hiring community managers and there are many people who want to be a community manager or want to switch companies. There are plenty of considerations to make when choosing the right person. But, in order to quantify their experience, I believe that the most important question is this one:

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Unauthorized hotlinking is one of those rare issues that most community managers (and most web savvy people) will universally agree is a bad thing.

But, agreeing it’s a bad thing and taking action against it can be two very different things. It can be tricky to catch because people may share a lot of images on your community. Do you check them all?

If the community is small enough, you can. But, even if it isn’t small enough to do that, you can randomly check a sample of images posted. You can take action against any that you see. You can include it in your community guidelines and inform those who do it that they should not do it in the future. You can encourage people to report it and then take those reports seriously.

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Commenting on the Internet Protection Act, the smart and funny Jay Smooth tackles anonymous comments over at ANIMAL. I thought he had an interesting take. He says we need anonymous comments – for our own safety.

“Anonymous comments are the only thing keeping all these trolls in their house and away from us,” he says.

“If we take away their only source of joy and fulfillment in life, they’re gonna be forced to leave the house and then we’re gonna have to interact with them in person. I mean, the really extreme trolls who do serious harassment and stalking, we need legal measures to counteract that. But, most trolls don’t have enough ambition to reach that status. Most trolls are not criminals, they’re just annoying jerks who are addicted to petty forms of negative attention. And the internet has given them a way to feed that addiction non stop.”

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