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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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“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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@iamdiddyA while back, I complemented someone on Twitter. For reference, he has 27 followers as I write this. He’s unknown in his field and is just starting out. I happened across some work he did and sent some kind words his way, encouraging him to keep pursuing his craft.

He favorited the tweet. He retweeted the tweet. But he didn’t say anything to me. That made me feel kind of weird.

It’s not a big deal. I don’t want to make it about me. I don’t send people encouraging words because I want them to thank me. I do it because I want to support them. But it got me to thinking about building community online and how to most effectively make people feel appreciated.

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#CMGRHangout: Loving Your CommunityLast Friday, I had the pleasure of appearing on My Community Manager’s #CMGRHangout, a weekly Google+ Hangout covering online community management. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the episode was titled “Loving Your Community,” and we focused on how you can show your community members that you appreciate them.

The program is hosted by Jonathan Brewer and Sherrie Rohde, who do a really great job. When they invited me, they asked if there were any other community professionals that I’d like to have on with me. That led to us being joined by David Williams, Sarah Hawk and Sue John. Tim McDonald and Abhishek Rai completed the panel. In all, we had a really solid, veteran group with approximately 50 years of community management experience between us.

To give you an idea of what we talked about, here are the questions that drove the discussion:

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Creative Commons License photo credit: steevithak

When members of an online community meet face to face, something magical happens. Connections strengthen and bonds are solidified. It helps people appreciate the community even more.

The prospect of organizing an in-person meetup can seem pretty daunting. Is it just a quick hello at a bar or coffee shop? Or is it a bigger event to justify a trip? What city do you host it in? What venue? When? What will people do?  Will you offer food? How much money do you need and where will it come from? What about insurance and legalities? Even if it is a lot of work, there is great value to be had in hosting your own offline event that stands on its own.

But it can also make a lot of sense to do something at a conference that already exists, that is related to your community. For example, if your community is about entertainment, movies or comic books, you could do something at Comic-Con. If it’s about knitting, maybe you go to STITCHES. If golf is the subject of your community, then you might go to the PGA Merchandise Show.

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Graffiti 2.0
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

I find Naoki Hiroshima’s story to be depressing. It paints a rather bleak picture for web security and if it leaves you feeling helpless, you aren’t alone.

If you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so. To sum it up briefly, Hiroshima was the holder of the @N account on Twitter. Someone wanted it. They couldn’t hack into the account itself, so they instead manipulated their way into his GoDaddy account. The attacker said that they were able to convince PayPal to give them the last four digits of a credit card on file (PayPal denies this) and then they used that as a means to help convince a GoDaddy customer service rep that they were the account holder.

Once they had access to his GoDaddy account, they essentially controlled Hiroshima’s domain names. The attacker contacted him and said that the domain names would disappear if he didn’t hand over the Twitter account. Hiroshima says that GoDaddy refused to help him, so he made the exchange and, as of this moment, he still doesn’t have his @N account.

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Christopher WalkenYou watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? Look at this lion. He’s the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying down under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big, he’s so hot. He doesn’t want to move.

“Now the little lion cubs, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn’t do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still: nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. And they start to move in. The jackals; hyenas.

“They’re barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that’s in his domain. They do this, and they get closer and closer, and bolder and bolder. ‘Til one day, that lion gets up and tears the s*** out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. ‘Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals who he is.”

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Over at, we have a simple post reporting system. As a logged in member, you click a button on a post and you can include an explanation of why you feel the post may be inappropriate.

We encourage members to report a post whenever they suspect one may need attention from a staff member. We don’t want them to feel like they should only report a post if they feel 100% sure it is a violation. We want them to report anything that seems fishy and allow us to make the determination. There is no repercussion for filing a report that doesn’t lead to action.

As we’ve built up a substantial collection of report data over several years, I thought it would be interesting to see what words pop up in reports most frequently, as that is an indicator of the things they report the most and that data can be used to improve.

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Is everything
Creative Commons License photo credit: tompagenet

Moderators moderate in the way that the community manager guides them to. Typically this is through policies (community guidelines), staff manuals (moderator guidelines) and documentation of member violations. Even when a well-meaning moderator makes a mistake, they make that mistake because they believe it is what the community manager wanted. It’s all part of being a team. Great moderators move as a unit.

In the course of handling these duties, they will encounter criticism and be a first point of contact for it because they are in direct contact with members. They are the ones telling a member why they can’t do something.

I believe that one of the really good functions that a community manager can serve, in relation to their moderators, is being the recipient of any serious criticism that a member has for how a moderator is operating. I mean, moderators can answer questions and moderators can explain some things, but when it comes to serious criticism of a decision (or worse), I want to deal with that.

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