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More than a year ago, when I asked what topics that readers of this site would like me to cover, Nibor Narklife suggested that I write about brand interaction on forums and how they can be facilitated. Recently, I received an email from a different person asking for ideas on that subject, as well.

There can be great opportunities for brands to interact with your forums beyond standard ads, in a way that can be beneficial to the community as well. Obviously, some communities will be more receptive to these overtures than others. You, as the manager of the forums, will probably have an idea as to how your community might feel.

When it comes to monetization and to working with brands, experimentation is vital. If you don’t experiment and try new things, you don’t find out what works and what doesn’t. You don’t figure out how to maximize the revenue that you generate.

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The more that I read Adrian Chen’s story about Violentacrez, who the writer labeled  “the biggest troll on the web,” the more angry I became.

Not anger in the sense of uncontrolled emotion, but anger as someone who has managed online communities for a long time and helped, in whatever small way, to establish this field as a profession. Most of that anger was not directed at the troll, but at Reddit. If you prefer, you can substitute disappointment for anger – they both work.

Let me be clear. Michael Brutsch, the troll in question, disgusts me. I don’t have any compassion for him. I would have fired him myself if he worked for me. His actions are deplorable, his explanations are ridiculous. He is responsible for his actions.

This story is not an attack on anonymity because he wasn’t anonymous. The moment he told other Reddit members who he was, that anonymity vanished. He trusted people who turned on him and gave him up. Chen just put the pieces together – the pieces that Brutsch shared with others.

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solved
Creative Commons License photo credit: jennypdx

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos paid a visit to the 37signals offices last week. Co-founder Jason Fried shared a nugget of insight from the conversations.

Bezos said that the people who are “right a lot” are those who are willing to re-evaluate and re-think their positions. He doesn’t see “consistency of thought” (Fried’s words) as a good trait. Instead, he values people who can continue to look at problems, even those considered to be solved, and see if they can be solved in a better, more efficient way. Those are the people who make a lot of the right calls, according to Bezos.

Meanwhile, what can cause people to be wrong a lot is when they are obsessed with details tied to only one perspective and on continuing and supporting that perspective.

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At the start of every year, I have a clean, empty calendar. On my computer, I have documents that contain lists of important dates, which I have created so that I don’t have to remember them and, as such, can’t forget them. I open these documents and add all of the important dates to my calendar.

Some of these items are personal, some are professional and some are even related to my communities. Just like you want to remember a friend’s birthday, you want to remember when your community launched. To aid you in remembering, you should create a list of important dates that you can refer to at the start of every year.

Certainly, the day that you launched is a big one. The passage of time is one of the important milestones that you should celebrate with your community. But, are there any other important anniversaries of meaningful events in the history of your community? These would also be added to the list.

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It has become very common for online communities to require a validated email address in order to use an account.

Validated means that the member entered the address, they were sent an email message with a link in it that they had to click – they viewed the message and clicked the link. Since they were able to access the link, that means they received the message and have access to that email address, which is real. Hence, validated.

This is a good thing because it gives you a verified means of contact. But, like any contact information, it can eventually slip out of date and when someone stops using an email address, or loses access to it, they sometimes forget to update the address in their profile section of your community. If they do this and lose their password, they may not be able to reset it. And when this happens, they may contact you.

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Clark University Letter
Creative Commons License photo credit: Svadilfari

Regardless of the software that you use to run your community, it is likely that one of the features that it offers is private messaging. This enables community members to exchange messages privately, between themselves, without posting them in your public areas.

This feature can be used in a bad way and should probably be disabled on some communities. But, even if they are disabled for members in general, it is usually a great idea to keep them enabled for staff communications, especially for private conversations between staff and members.

When you contact a member about a site related matter or a guideline violation, you want to make sure three things happen: the message is received, the message is opened and that it is opened by the account holder. When it comes to ticking these three boxes, private messaging easily beats email.

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Thank you for visiting and reading ManagingCommunities.com. This is a special message for those who subscribe through the RSS feed. If you are an email subscriber, you do not need to update your subscription.

Until now, I’ve used a service called FeedBurner to serve my RSS feed. Unfortunately, there have been some ominous signs that the product is not receiving adequate attention, leading to questions about its reliability.

I wanted to address this before it became a real issue and, as such, have moved my RSS feed to another provider. To that end, I would like to ask you to please delete your old subscription and subscribe to my new feed URL.

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Condor Comfort Class Bordservice
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Condor.com

Premium memberships can be a great way to monetize an online community. They allow loyal members to pay for extras on a community they already enjoy and appreciate.

These programs are not charity or donations. The best ones offer value that members want to pay for that goes beyond the good feeling of supporting a community that you have benefited from. A well executed premium membership program provides incentives, ensuring that participating members receive a good bang for their buck.

Scott Fox wrote a nice primer on how to get started with a premium membership program, but one of the best things that you can do, to determine what you can offer and how much you should charge, is to learn from what other communities offer. In this article, I am going to highlight some solid examples.

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La da da da… hey hey hey… goodbye.

Social media monitoring. There are so many people who say they do it and there are many vendors that say they offer it. The secret? Many of them don’t.

As I put my thoughts together, Jay-Z’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” was speaking to me. The fact is, I know some of these people. Or they know me. Saying what I am about to say isn’t politically correct. This might offend my political connects.

I received an email from someone at a “social media monitoring” company with some pretty big organizations listed among their clients. It doesn’t matter who they are because they aren’t the only one. But, the emails we exchanged help illustrate the problem.

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