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Happy Holidays!

Posted by Patrick on November 28th, 2013 in ManagingCommunities.com
2014
Creative Commons License photo credit: artisrams

Hello and thank you for visiting ManagingCommunities.com!

With Hanukkah beginning last night, we are now beginning the winter holidays. Soon enough, we’ll be at the end of the year.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a happy holiday season and a happy, healthy and successful 2014.

Here at ManagingCommunities.com, it has been great year of sharing experiences and resources in the field of online community management. It has been a great year for the field, as well, as it continues to grow and mature.

I am thankful for everyone who appreciates my work, whether it be here, in my books, at speaking engagements or elsewhere. I am humbled by the fact that I can help this space and provide value for others and I look forward to continuing to do so in 2014.

Thank you for your kindness and support.

Happy Holidays!

Patrick

Extra CreditsExtra Credits is a web show that takes a “deeper look at games; how they are made, what they mean and how we can make them better,” according to Penny Arcade, where the show is distributed. In their latest episode, shared with me by my friend Jonathan Bailey, number 11 of their seventh season, they tackle community management. I will embed the episode at the bottom of this article.

There are a couple of things I want to discuss, but before I do that, I want to praise the clip. I enjoyed it and I’m glad to see community management’s continued push into the mainstream. Gaming has always been among the industries that have most readily adopted this profession, so it only makes sense that a gaming focused show would dedicate an episode to the subject.

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Cluster Computing Research
Creative Commons License photo credit: stwn

Once in a while, someone will pop into my community and ask members to fill out some survey. If the first time I hear of you and your survey is from reading a public post that you made in the community, that is not a good look for you.

I’m fairly protective of the community when it comes to people taking advantage of them. While our members are a great resource, the community doesn’t exist to fill out surveys for people. If you wish to utilize the community in this way, you really should ask the manager first and receive permission for doing so.

It’s a courteous, respectful thing to do. You don’t want to assume that your request is acceptable and if you post it and it is not, it’ll be removed. If your request is appropriate, having the stamp of approval from the manager can help you to get more responses as members know that it is alright.

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Yeah right.
Creative Commons License photo credit: jadakatt

I have a new online community. I am going to go to other, similar online communities and tell them about my community and they will join! I’ll post threads about it or, if I want to be really sneaky, I’ll send private messages to the members there, telling them about it. The community manager will never know!

So said far too many people. It’s a tactic of the inexperienced, the naive, the lazy and/or the unethical. People justify it in ridiculous ways. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to get permission! No, it’s not. It’s embarrassing and it fails to pass a basic test of humanity: treat people as you want to be treated.

If you don’t care about those reasons, you don’t care about your own credibility or self-respect, let me give you one more and this one you ought to really care about. It’s a waste of time. Efforts like these tend to fall on deaf ears. Here’s why.

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Hakone Ropeway @ From Sounzan to Owakudani @ Hakone
Creative Commons License photo credit: *_*

When KarateForums.com hit 500,000 posts, one of the things that we did to celebrate was to conduct a series of interviews with the most influential members in the history of the community. They were taken from various eras. It included members who have been with us for more than 10 years, for 5 years, for 2 years – all different time spans. Some members are still active, some come and go, some left a while ago.

In all, it was 26 different members and these 26 are members who have contributed a lot. They are the ideal members. People who are kind and post great content. They are the members we can never have enough of.

One of the questions that we asked them was: after you found the community, why did you stay? For community managers, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the answers they provided, as it provides an understanding of why people continue to come back and contribute to a community. I am going to include the answers in full, without editing them and identify some of the common themes. Any emphasis is mine.

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DSCF4614
Creative Commons License photo credit: davispuh

I recently spoke to students from Arizona State University about forums and how to get the most out of them. One of the topics that we touched on was building social capital within forums. I talked about how I build credibility within the communities that I manage. There are 5 keys to it.

Participate

Participating in the community as a contributor, outside of your role as a manager, in a genuine way helps your members to see you as a person – not as a machine in a dark room deciding the fate of the universe. This makes it easier for them to emphasize with you, which can be really helpful to furthering your goals as a community.

People don’t emphasize with machines, they don’t feel compassion for machines – they simply want them to work. I don’t want my members to see me this way.

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coming out
Creative Commons License photo credit: loop_oh

Being small is generally seen as a bad thing. We want to be bigger, we want to have as many members as possible. But if you are small, while you are small, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are provided with a laser sharp focus on what really matters.

When you only have 3, 5, 10, 15 regularly active members, you have a great opportunity to make sure that they are enjoying the community, that they are appreciated and to see if there is anything that you can do from them. You have the time to do so because they are truly all that you have.

That is how communities grow. 1 by 1. For some it is faster than others, but it is always 1 by 1 and the members that you have now form the foundation for future growth.

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KarateForums.com Award for HeidiKarateForums.com is currently celebrating due to the community reaching the 500,000 posts milestone. Yesterday, as part of that celebration, I presented a long term member with a physical award.

The idea for it was planted back in June, when Heidi (ninjanurse on the community) marked 10 years as a member of my staff. I have been managing forums for more than 13 years and I have never had a staff member that experienced that type of longevity. It is very impressive. As such, I decided that we would honor her again when we hit 500,000 posts.

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