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Have you managed an online community for three or more years? Does it have 50,000 or more posts? Do you have guidelines of substance that you fairly and evenly apply to contributions?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, there is a fair chance that someone has lobbed the word “Draconian” in your direction, in reply to a contribution being edited or removed.

I have to be honest. Until recently, I did not fully understand the definition of this word. I had always thought that it meant that they thought I was being unfair or too strict.

It turns out: I was right. Just not to the extent I had thought.

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Blutegel
Creative Commons License photo credit: Miala

Role playing time! I manage a good sized community around a particular niche. I am looking for advertisers. So, I identify some online stores that sell products to the people who comprise my community’s audience. The online store that you work for is one of those I find and I contact you.

I e-mail you, I introduce myself and share some information about my site. I think we could be a good fit for you. I offer to send you our media kit and rate card and to answer any questions that you may have. Do you:

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Creative Commons License photo credit: BuzzShift

Last year at BlogWorld & New Media Expo (this year’s iteration is October 14-16 in Las Vegas and I’ll be there), I led a panel titled “Social Media: The Bad and the Ugly” with Amber Naslund, Robert Scoble and Wayne Sutton.

On the panel, we talked about trends in social media that concerned us and that we felt could harm the growth of the medium as a whole. These are also trends that could harm your brand, scare people away and damage your reputation. We highlighted six trends in all.

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Don't worry about reading this
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

On one of the communities that I run that offers free technical support, we had a member join and post a question in need of some assistance. In the post, they included some short hand for a vulgarity, so I removed the post, as per our normal procedure. They also had a signature violation of sorts. So, I dropped the member a note explaining both.

I noted that their post was also in bright red. This is not a violation and it’s fine if a member wants to use that color. But, it made the post harder to read. So, in the message, I thought I’d include a helpful suggestion that would allow the member to be more likely to receive help from others. I said:

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We’re Off the “Honest Sites” List! Oh No!

Posted by Patrick on April 10th, 2010 in Humor
Good old honest Abe
Creative Commons License photo credit: gaminrey

We had a member the other day who posted a thread promoting his eBook. It was your run of the mill advertisement, removed by a member of my staff.

The person who posted it responded to the staff member, telling them that they must not see the value in his eBook and that, more or less, his 95,000 affiliates can’t be wrong.

The member had actually posted promoting an eBook back in 2007 and had it removed. He hadn’t posted much of anything before posting again, promoting an eBook now, in 2010.

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April Fools’ Day 2010 on My Communities

Posted by Patrick on April 2nd, 2010 in Humor

April Fools’ Day affords many community administrators with the opportunity to have a little fun with their members and I am not one to pass that up. So, just like last year, some of my site’s played host to a prank in honor of the day. As always, the staff was in on it.

On KarateForums.com, we announced our new focus on street tested martial arts. From this point forward, all new member accounts would be validated manually and only after the potential member had submitted a video of him or herself using their chosen martial art in the only arena that matters: the street.

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Recently, on the e-mint discussion list, a member was asking for some suggestions for a list of 10 ways to kill your online community, with some humor. Taking approximately 10-15 minutes, I came up with a quick, fun, spur of the moment list and I thought I’d share it with you!

1. Don’t have any guidelines! We’re all adults – and cursing is fun! Weeeeeeeeee…

2. Since we’re all adults, it’s not like you actually need to visit your site much. A few times a month should be good.

3. Create an open group that anyone can join called “Moderators” and let anyone who wants to join in and move, edit or delete whatever they want. They’re here to help!

4. As the administrator, when you post, try to set the worst example possible. Since humans all strive to be better than one another, this will force your members to be awesome!

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As a recent Facebook status update, I wrote:

Always love when a banned member says “you know I can just keep signing up, so stop banning me.” Never.

My friend Chris posted a reply to that update:

I love how they think it’s a game and they’ll “win” if they keep trying. Nothing screams loser more than trying to win at being a troll. lol.

And it’s true. I mean, we all have people like this, that seem like they are competing with the world for the title of biggest idiot ever. If you haven’t yet, just give it some time. I’ve had people, like the one mentioned above, tell me that they can come back if they want and there is nothing I can do about it.

I remember one person telling me that they knew how to take me down and I knew how to take them down (???), so why don’t I just let them back in and we can avoid all that. Really? My response: no response. I’ll close the site down before I let anyone like that on it. I documented the message for me and my staff and that was that. Good luck in crazyville.

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So, I was taking a look at Hunch, a site created by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, that claims to be a “decision-making tool that gets smarter the more you use it.” Out of curiosity, I punched in the word “forums” to see what would come up. The first result was “Should I become a forum moderator?”

I answered every question thinking of myself as the worst moderator candidate possible and I got “86% (No): You should probably think longer.” And then I answered it in the way that an ideal moderator might. The result? “95% (Yes): Yes, you should definitely consider becoming a Mod.” If you try to do this, please let me know what you get in the comments.

I think the quiz (and it’s creator) deserves credit for creating a generally accurate portrayal of some of the things that go into being a good forum moderator.

April Fools’ Day 2009 on My Communities

Posted by Patrick on April 2nd, 2009 in Humor

April Fools’ Day is always a fun time for me and that is reflected on the iFroggy Network and my communities, where I collaborate with my staff and others to brainstorm ways to have fun with our visitors on April 1. Here’s what we did this year:

On KarateForums.com, all logged in members were granted admin panel access, via a link in the header. The link took them to this page, encouraging them to prank others by talking about their new found admin access.

On phpBBHacks.com, we announced that phpBB 2 support was coming to an end on the site. But, this is not the case.

At PhotoshopForums.com, we announced plans to support only Photoshop CS4. Basically, if you asked a question on the community, it would have to relate to Photoshop CS4 and no prior versions. If you created a graphic or example and posted it on the forums, it would have to have been created with CS4. That’s not something we are going to do.

Finally, on Bad Boy Blog, we did a couple of jokes. When I was coming up with ideas, I had been thinking of fun story ideas that I could write about. One of them was “Exclusive: Sources: Jordan McCoy Joins Boyz N Da Hood, Replacing Gorilla Zoe.”

For those who don’t know, Jordan McCoy and Boyz N Da Hood are both acts signed to Bad Boy Records. McCoy is a 17 year old pop/rock singer who is also a member of Dream, which is a pop girl group. Boyz N Da Hood is a southern, hard core rap group consisting of rappers Big Gee (signed to Bad Boy as a solo artist, as well), Big Duke and Gorilla Zoe (also signed to Bad Boy). Jody Breeze is another member, but his status is up in the air and it sounds like he’s out.

So, really, what I was going for here was some Onion style humor. Something that is rather obviously absurd, but written in a serious, believable manner. Jordan and her manager, Debbie Hammond, are friends of Bad Boy Blog, so I decided to see if we could make it bigger by involving them.

We didn’t have a lot of time, but we pulled something together. First, I posted my report late on March 31. Then, in the afternoon on April 1, her MySpace layout was updated to include “The Newest Member of Boyz N Da Hood!” in the header (see it here). She blogged about it on MySpace and jordanmccoy.com and tweeted about it. I then wrote a post, announcing her confirmation of my report.

So, we collaborated to pull off a pretty good joke and gave her fans a laugh. After I announced it was a prank, she did the same and her MySpace layout was reverted to it’s normal form.

The other joke we did at Bad Boy Blog was to supposedly post a new single from Diddy. While it sounded believable, anyone who clicked the audio player link in the post was taken to a page announcing the prank.

Another April Fools’ Day in the books!

Question for the Comments: Did you pull any pranks or jokes this year? If so, what did you do?