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Am I Still a Bench?
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

Once in a while, a member will contact me and ask me to delete all of their posts on my forums, as well as their account. If you’ve run forums for any measure of time, you’ve probably received a request like this. Recently, Jeremiah Hester asked how I handled these matters, so I thought I’d write about it.

Mass Deleting Posts

One of the things that makes online forums special is the fact that they are shared spaces. This means that when someone contributes, their contribution directly impacts the contributions of others. There are no walls or profiles, no individual areas where you have to opt-in to a specific person (at least, not usually and not in a way that outweighs the shared spaces). There is simply a space that everyone shares.

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"Managing Online Forums"It was 10 years ago last month that I began writing what would eventually become “Managing Online Forums.” April 28 will mark 5 years that it has been in publication.

Digging through my emails, the earliest message that I can find mentioning the project is in May of 2004. I had told some friends about it before that, but it was via instant message. I kept the whole project very close to the vest, not even telling my family until I had an offer from a publisher. The email was sent to Jared Smith, Chrispian Burks and Stephan Segraves. It was titled “Book/Long Article.” Note that I had not yet committed to the idea of it being a book and was not sure if I could do it. It included this:

“As you know, I’ve been working when I can on a book/long article on Internet Community Development. It is sitting at 38,888 words right now. I wanted to ask you if you might want to take a look at it, read it, let me know what you think and possibly suggest some new things for me to cover (if you had any). No real rush, just when you can.”

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Yesterday, I was on Tech Talk with Craig Peterson, and we discussed online communities and how to approach them as a business (audio).

One of the areas that we touched on was the concern that forums and structured online communities might be more susceptible to people who don’t comment in good faith and simply want to cause harm or destruction for their own amusement or motives. Some would call these people trolls, though I’d say that label doesn’t always fit the bill.

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The ReplacerThe social media team for popular video game franchise Call of Duty has been replaced. That’s OK, though, they asked for it.

The Replacer, introduced prior to the release of the first downloadable content pack for “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” specializes in replacing you in your day to day life, freeing you up to play more Call of Duty. Now that they are releasing their download pack, he’s made a triumphant return. Family commitments, doctor appointments, your day job, whatever – he can step in and do the job.

Sort of.

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Experienced community managers will have seen this scenario play out so many times: A community member or visitor posts something that you have to remove because it was vulgar, inappropriate, disrespectful, inflammatory or just downright nasty.

Later, they send you a message. Or you see them complaining somewhere – another community, a social profile, etc. They are talking about how you removed their post, but wait, they can’t be, because what they’re saying isn’t actually what happened.

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YouTubeYouTube comments have a terrible reputation and deservedly so. YouTube is massive and there are a lot of people posting nasty and offensive things on the website.

At the same time, even though this is true, we don’t have to reserve ourselves to accepting this as the norm in the comments sections for our own videos. It comes down to what your standards are, how much you care and how much you are willing to work.

Soda Tasting, my 5 day a week soda review show, is now more than 6 months old and the majority of the comments made regarding my videos have been made on YouTube. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, but so far it hasn’t been that bad.

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Thanks to the internet, being a fan of someone means something totally different than it did 50 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.

It means access, not just to the person you are a fan of, but to other fans. In general, that’s a beautiful thing. But, inevitably, society is society and bad stuff happens. Fans attack other fans, promote destructive behaviors and engage in a irresponsible manner, even though their intentions may be to support the celebrity they are a fan of. Running fan communities, I have bumped into this.

Here is an idea: Major celebrities could hire a community manager not just to facilitate official community spaces, but also to guide their fans online in best practices as far as how to engage with other fans, how to manage their fan communities and, in general, serve as a useful resource to them.

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Happy Baby
Creative Commons License photo credit: bradleygee

April 1 has come and gone and, besides the fact that I need to work on my taxes, that also means April Fools’ Day has happened. Every year, I consider what I might want to do, discuss it with my staff (if applicable) and execute it. It’s almost like a feature of the community, when people expect it.

On KarateForums.com, we announced a brand new etiquette policy. This policy detailed how members on our community should address senior members – those with 1,000 or more posts and members of our staff. If a member has 1,000 or more posts, they must be addressed as sir or ma’am. But before you can reply to them, you must privately request permission from the senior member. Once approved, you may respond.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: theHalo

A friend passed along Kurt Opsahl’s blog post on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)’s blog, “Georgia Court Censorship Order Threatens Message Boards Everywhere.”

Matthew Chan runs a website called ExtortionLetterInfo where he targets “copyright trolls.” The EFF story paints a somewhat noble picture of his actions. When you read the story by Ars Technica, though, you start to get a greater sense of what occurred.

Linda Ellis is a writer and the author of a poem called “The Dash.” Another author published this poem in his book without permission and was contacted by Ellis requesting compensation of $100,000. The author chose to instead pay Chan to bring attention to the situation, hoping public pressure would force Ellis to back down.

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