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managing-online-forumsManaging Online Forums turns 6 years old today. To celebrate, I’ve launched a new site for it.

6 year old books generally don’t have new websites, but I decided that I wanted to launch a new one because I feel the book still has a lot of value to offer. The website that I had previously created was alright, but it didn’t do a good enough job communicating that value now. I also have been very grateful for the support that the book has continued to receive and I felt like that support deserved something better. Check out the new site. I hope you like it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the work. Everyone at AMACOM, everyone who bought it, reviewed it and spread the word about it. Many of the specific people that deserve to be thanked are listed in the book’s acknowledgments.

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Don’t forget that, when you are dealing with someone who is stressed, who is struggling or who is just angry, you have the chance to influence their situation in a positive manner.

I was reminded of this a while back when I was on a trip with my parents and brothers, coming back from visiting my grandparents. We were checking out of the hotel and it was unseasonably (very) cold. With 5 of us piling into one vehicle, we had to pack light and, not expecting this weather, didn’t bring any heavy coats.

My Dad went down to start the car and (literally) melt the ice off of the doors so they would open. Meanwhile, my brother went down to retrieve a luggage cart so that we could bring the bags down as quickly as possible, so that Dad wasn’t outside in the cold any longer than he had to be, in the light coat he had brought.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: mauwf

When I was on #CMGRHangout a little over a week ago, I said I would be interested to know if members who post an introduction in our introductions forum were more likely to become active contributors.

My friend Chrispian Burks wrote some database queries for me that allowed me to look at the KarateForums.com database. KarateForums.com is a mature community with a lot of data to play with, so it makes a great example for communities like it – focused, niche interest communities.

You can check out the data below. I decided to look at members with a certain post count or higher and then see what percentage of them posted a thread in the introductions forum. The data isn’t perfect, but it is pretty close.

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Lost Stool
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive is an emerging technology conference. Since I’ve been going, the internet has been very ingrained in whatever has constituted “emerging technology.” As such, the conference has been very internet centric.

And yet, when I was down in Austin this year, connecting with people and visiting with friends, it reminded me (as it always tends to) that it’s important to keep the internet in context. This is especially true for online community professionals because our work is almost entirely online.

The danger here is that when you work online all day, you tend to get too caught up and place too much importance in your own world. Oh man, this is a big situation. This server is down. That member is angry. Activity dropped this month. Catastrophe! Noise, noise, noise.

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David DeWald and #CMGRHangoutHow do you welcome new members to an established, active online community? That was the topic of last Friday’s #CMGRHangout, a weekly Google+ Hangout presented by My Community Manager.

The panel discussion featured hosts Jonathan Brewer and Sherrie Rohde, alongside Brian Fanzo, David DeWald, Whitney Klinkner and me. This was my second time on the program and, once again, it was a pleasure.

By using different strategies and tactics, you can definitely have an impact on the percentage of people that join your community, that choose to contribute and that stay. There are many different ways to go about that and we discussed a lot of them.

In order for you to know what to expect, here are the questions that the panel answered:

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ICANNYou will soon be able to own a yourname.community domain name, thanks to ICANN’s New Generic Top-Level (gTLD) Domain Name Program.

In case some explanation is needed, ICANN is the organization responsible for the domain name system. A top-level domain (TLD) is what comes after the period in your web address. .com, .net, .org. These are all examples of top-level domains. The new gTLD program has been in the works for years, with applications initially opening in January of 2012.

During that period, many companies and organizations applied for gTLDs, for different reasons. For example, Amazon applied for .amazon. They also applied for .book, .movie, .author and many others. But .book and .movie both have multiple applicants, so Amazon will be one of several companies vying for them. Applications aren’t cheap – $185,000 each – and that doesn’t include the ongoing costs tied to maintenance and whatever goes into managing a TLD from the applicant’s end.

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Handcuffed , Tokyo
Creative Commons License photo credit: mskogly

I had a member, who recently joined our community, create a post to criticize a martial artist they had encountered and, among their many gripes, they claimed that this person had stolen $800 of equipment from the dojo where they practice. And they named the person – first and last name.

There is an issue with this. To say that this person stole $800 worth of equipment from you, you are claiming that they have committed a crime. It is a criminal accusation and it is serious. For a very long time, I have had a policy on my communities against specific criminal accusations being made of individuals.

The reason is simple. If the person stole from you, call the police. Don’t use my community as part of a smear campaign, which is what a majority of the people who use forums for this purpose are doing. Either that or they’ve called the police and the police didn’t agree with them. Regardless, my community is not the place to make criminal accusations – it just isn’t the right venue.

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swimming in the rain
Creative Commons License photo credit: clarism_4

For many years, I have been celebrating April Fools’ Day on my communities. This year was no different.

On KarateForums.com, we announced that we would begin accepting new posts via postal mail, even releasing a form for people to use. While it was a joke, I can’t say I’d be disappointed if a few members decided to play around and mail in a submission.

A month in advance, I like to start a conversation in the staff forums, share my thoughts and see if any of my staff members have any suggestions. This particular idea came mostly from a brand new member of our team.

Did you do anything for April Fools’ Day? If you did, please let me know in the comments.