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Movie ForumsI’ve known Chris Bowyer for at least 14 years, which is as long as both of us have been managing online communities. Like many people, I found him thanks to forums. In 2000, he launched Movie Forums and he has run it ever since.

Movie Forums had the same design for a very long time and I knew this because I’d occasionally bump into it online. When I saw his announcement that he had launched a brand new design, it caught my eye because it is very challenging to redesign a forum that has had the same design for a very long time. I was impressed by the fact that the community was widely adopting and praising the design, which itself was quite nice. It’s not easy to achieve this and I knew Chris was responsible.

After the new design was launched, I reached out to Chris to ask if he’d write a guest post here, walking us through his process. How did he achieve such a positive result? What did he do to involve the community? How did he reduce the shock of changing a design that the community had been used to for so long? Chris was kind enough to share the details.

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This is not a political article. I cannot stress that enough. Our comments section should remain free of general thoughts about President Obama, the Affordable Care Act or any topic that is generally political and not related to community management, moderation or the circumstance I am about to describe. Thank you.

President Barack Obama joined Quora earlier this week. His first two answers, posted Monday, were both to questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (answer 1, answer 2). They were of good quality, in my estimation. They both answered the question asked and did so thoughtfully. The only negative is that both included brief messages encouraging U.S. citizens to sign up for health insurance prior to next week’s deadline.

Those statements take up less than a quarter of the overall message and, since the discussion is ACA related and this is the President, I can understand how they may be generally forgivable. A tradeoff for getting the President on your platform.

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Billy-Blob's Codicils
Creative Commons License photo credit: epiclectic

Bill Cosby did a show down at South by Southwest. I was at the conference with my brother Sean, and we wanted to go because it’s Bill Cosby, the legend. We decided that we wouldn’t get in line 3-4 hours before the show, like some people did. Instead, we would get there with 1-2 hours to go and, if we made it in, great.

We took our spot in line about an hour and 15 minutes before he was scheduled to go on. At that point, our odds of getting in looked pretty bleak. But we decided to wait it out. We met Anthony Lux, who was in line next to us, and ended up talking with him for much of it, and hit the food trucks with him after the show.

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SXSW 2014If you are a regular reader, you know I’ve missed a few days of my usual Monday, Thursday schedule. Sorry about that. I think this is the first time I’ve missed a day since September of 2011. I take the schedule pretty seriously.

There are two big reasons for my break: South by Southwest (SXSW) and my health. SXSW was great once again. My health, not so great. I caught something, as can happen when you travel. I’m getting better slowly, even if it is still hanging on.

I’m working on getting back into the swing of things and I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the community management professionals that I met in person, for the first time, at SXSW. That way, you can check out their work and become familiar with them, as I have.

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“Self-praise stinks,” my grandfather used to say. He said it countless times during my childhood. I don’t think I really appreciated it until I was older.

The message is that no one wants to hear you praise yourself. Praise is always best when it comes from other people. When the best community managers receive praise about their community, they masterfully redirect it in another direction.

When I’m in that mode, when I’m in that community manager mindset, my job is to shift praise away from me.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Sam Droege

When members of your community defend you, it’s a great feeling. You could run a forum and a member defends your moderation efforts. You could host a show on YouTube and a subscriber defends you against a personal attack. You could be a major brand and, during a crisis, you have overwhelming support through your Facebook page.

Whatever it is, it feels good.

However, when this happens to me, after that initial wave of gratitude, I often feel something else. It makes me uncomfortable. Because, quite often, the person that they are defending me against is not worth speaking to. They aren’t good people and they aren’t commenting in good faith. They just want to cause harm.

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