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Boston Common, Colonial Architecture
Creative Commons License photo credit: MoreLife81

For those of us operating in the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides us with safe harbor from liability due to copyright infringing activities of our members on the communities that we manage. This is a great thing and to earn that privilege, you must adhere to certain standards.

One of the big ones is that when a purported copyright holder files a properly formatted DMCA notice with you, you must remove the material cited. Unfortunately, what some community managers do is hide behind this and claim ignorance until the moment that they are notified by the copyright holder. Even if they know no one should be distributing “Batman” or “Ghostbusters” or an obviously copyrighted work in their community.

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Josie is happiest when sitting on the book I'm trying to read.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Trinity

Alex Papworth runs a premium member community and recently asked if I would talk about how you can encourage your members to participate in your community without annoying them.

“I’m keen to encourage participation,” he writes. “Especially to ensure people feel they are getting value but I don’t want to push people when they have busy lives and become a ‘nag.’ Do you have any suggestions on how I could manage this balance?”

Thank you for sharing this with me, Alex. When we talk about encouraging people to participate without annoying them, I think there are two things that you need to consider carefully.

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This is something that I am asked somewhat regularly, when I’m doing an interview or someone is looking to start a community.

Of course, that is a really generic, vague question and it lends itself to a generic, vague answer. There is so much one could say. It’s a big topic. Yes, I have a million tips. How much time do we have?

We don’t usually have much, so I try to talk about a few foundational concepts that I feel would apply to most people. Here are some of the things that I usually mention.

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Google AdSenseIf you’ve spent much time on the monetization of your community, you’ve run across Google AdSense, Google’s advertising program for web publishers. More to my point, you’ve probably run across people asking for what else they can do besides AdSense or as an alternative to AdSense.

In fact, a Google search for “AdSense alternatives” (with quotes) spits out 162,000 results. “Other than AdSense” provides 123,000. This is natural, due to the popularity of the program.

In June, AdSense will turn 10 years old. As a web publisher, I have used AdSense almost from day 1 of the service (July 1, 2003 is the earliest day in my stats), which means I’ve been using it for 10 years. In recognition of this mark, I wanted to take a moment to remind people why AdSense is so great for people who own online communities.

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resist
Creative Commons License photo credit: chuckychoi

“Don’t Yuck My Yum” is the title of a recent episode of a show with ze frank. On it, Frank talks about moments in his life where he has liked something that was otherwise harmless, only to have people suggest to him that he should stop liking it.

“The yum getting yucked is when you like something harmless – and harmless is the trick here and leads to my confusion – when you like something harmless and someone tells you to stop liking it,” he explains.

I think we’ve all experienced those moments where we like something – a song, a TV show, a movie – and had someone tell us, either with their words or the expression on their face, that they thought the thing we liked was terrible and/or embarrassing. And, certainly, we’ve probably done it to other people.

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“This post is bad. Why haven’t you removed it yet?” When you have a member who asks you something along those lines, this is the article you can point them to.

If you post something on an online community and it does not appear right away, because a moderator must first approve it, that is called pre-moderation. However, if the community has moderators and what you post appears right away without needing approval, the community employs post-moderation.

Most online communities rely on post-moderation. An abysmally small number of communities rely solely on pre-moderation and, when they do, it is usually for a very specific reason – the need to control the incoming content to an extreme level. Some communities practice a little bit of pre-moderation (like only applying it to new members, until they prove themselves), but most of their content is subject to post-moderation.

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Have you ever had a professional of some kind, who you were trying to set up an appointment with, just call you and tell you they are 15 minutes away, despite the fact that you never actually nailed down that appointment? Home appraisers, contractors, cable installers, real estate agents, plumbers, whatever. When they do it, isn’t that just the best?

No? It’s not the best? It’s highly inconvenient, annoying and off-putting?

I agree. And that’s why you need to be careful not to do in to your online community.

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A Word on Civility for Community Managers

Posted by Patrick on March 4th, 2013 in Thinking
Lions 5
Creative Commons License photo credit: ahisgett

Recently, I watched a couple of people argue about what the community manager role should encompass. One was more of a marketing guy and the other had a more community oriented background. Their viewpoints aren’t important, as much as how they chose to express them.

I happened to be subscribed to this particular discussion and as they want back and forth, I noted that both of them were being a bit in your face and disrespectful. Though I agreed with one more than the other, I found myself thinking less of both of them, surprised by the words that they chose.

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