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When it comes to banning and the purpose of banning, people often get it twisted. Even people who work in community management.

The purpose of banning isn’t to remove access as much as it is to curb behavior. Anyone who has been in this field for a little while knows that people can evade a ban and register another account. That’s not the primary point to banning.

The primary point is to provide a consequence for excessive and continual bad behavior. That consequence is the loss of reputation. While there is a group who won’t care, that’s a big deal for a lot of people. The desire to maintain their reputation is a powerful motivator for participating in line with the community guidelines and norms.

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Just over two years ago, I wrote about a restraining order issued in the state of Georgia, which was harmful to online communities. The order was requested by author Linda Ellis and targeted at Matthew Chan. Chan is the creator of ExtortionLetterInfo, an online resource and community that discusses (and criticizes) settlement demand letters issued by copyright holders.

Ellis authored a poem, “The Dash,” and has a reputation for aggressively pursuing those who share it online. According to Chan’s interview with Ars Technica in 2013, he was contacted by someone that Ellis had threatened. Instead of paying Ellis, they opted to pay Chan to publicize the incident. He used his website to criticize Ellis.

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Brian Walker is a patrol deputy in Kansas, who has been working in law enforcement since 2006. Alex Embry is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team, having been involved with law enforcement since 2004.

Both Alex and Brian also happen to be longtime moderators for me on KarateForums.com.

I found the connection very interesting and so we sat down to discuss their work, on the community that I manage, and off of it. In part one of the conversation, we discussed the similarities between both positions, being seen as more than just an enforcer, and judgement calls and officer discretion. For part two, we touched on the dark side of authority: abuse of power and corruption.

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Homesteading TodayHomesteading Today is a very large online community dedicated to the practice of homesteading. The forum was acquired by Carbon Media Group (CMG) in July of 2014, as part of a large package of sites they bought from Group Builder.

Beginning late last year (according to this apology), the company started taking posts from certain sections of Homesteading Today and republishing them on other forums owned by CMG. The practice went unnoticed until a few days ago, when a member found that posts they had made on Homesteading Today were showing up on Cattle Forum, another CMG community.

The member, willow_girl, posted a thread talking about how she discovered that posts she made on Homesteading Today were showing up at Cattle Forum under the name “Alice.” She hadn’t made them and had no idea who Alice was. One of the posts shared a pretty personal story about saving a cow, which this Alice was now taking credit for.

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At KarateForums.com, my moderation team includes not one but two veteran law enforcement officers. They each have spent several years as moderators with me, but their day job didn’t become apparent to me until after I had already brought them on. I found the connection – between what they do within the community I manage and what they do as a profession – to be so interesting, that I asked if they’d be open to a conversation to talk about it. I was grateful when they agreed.

Alex Embry is a sergeant in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department in Illinois, where he is also a member of the SWAT team. Brian Walker works as a patrol deputy in the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas. Together, they have approximately 19 years experience in law enforcement and have spent 15 years as moderators on KarateForums.com.

In part one of the conversation, we discussed their backgrounds, the similarities between the two roles, how to be seen by the community as more than just an enforcer and the proper use of discretion. In part two, we shift to the darker side of these responsibilities.

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I have a wonderful staff over at KarateForums.com. My team is comprised of 9 people, including 5 moderators. Those 5 moderators have been with me for a combined 35 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days (these are real numbers and those 3s are purely coincidental). This group of 9 is the strongest team that I have ever had the fortune of working with. They are excellent people with strong character.

Of the 5 moderators, two work in law enforcement. Brian Walker, who has been on staff since July 31, 2006, is a patrol deputy in Kansas. Alex Embry joined our team on December 2, 2008. He is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team. As long as they have been with me at KarateForums.com, they have been working in law enforcement even longer.

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On Tuesday, ManagingCommunities.com marked 7 years online. I’m a bit under the weather right now, but I didn’t want to let that milestone pass without acknowledging it.

In 7 years, the community management profession has grown a lot. It’s an up and down road, like anything, but I think we are headed in a good direction. 2015 is going to be a really interesting year.

I really enjoy the opportunity to help professionals in this space. I am grateful for those who visit this resource with an open mind and allow me to help. When someone tells me that this blog or my books have helped them, that’s one of the most rewarding feelings that I can have as a professional.

Thank you to everyone who has shared my work online, commented here thoughtfully and offered me a kind word, in public or in private. It means a lot to me.

Sincerely,

Patrick

YouTube Isn’t a Copyright Launderer

Posted by Patrick on December 18th, 2014 in Managing the Community

Back in October, a few weeks before Halloween, a trending story on Facebook caught my eye. It said that all episodes of the 1990s Nickelodeon TV show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” were available on YouTube.

As a 90s kid, I loved the show. In fact, I own all 7 seasons on DVD. I purchased them because I wanted to re-watch the show with my brothers. My youngest brother had never seen them. It was a lot of fun.

When I saw the Facebook trending story, I immediately thought that something probably wasn’t right. Sure enough, that was the case. The clips that were being linked to were very clearly on unauthorized channels. For anyone who is familiar to show, that also possesses a modicum of common sense and internet savvy, it took only a few seconds to realize this.

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Disruptive MultimediaI’ve been thinking a lot about music artists and community recently, thanks to Ryan Leslie and Nathan McCartney of Disruptive Multimedia. They are on a mission to convince music artists of the value of connecting directly with fans. When I listen to them, I really believe they are trying to get artists to understand the value of actively managing your community.

The sad fact is that most music artists are all too happy to hand their community over to a third party and lose the direct connection. When you send a fan to iTunes to buy an album, iTunes keeps 30% of the revenue – and 100% of the relationship. The revenue cut isn’t a big deal, but the relationship is everything.

And yet that is what most artists do when they try to sell music. They send people to iTunes. They transfer the relationship to Apple, who knows everything about the buyer. Meanwhile, the artist knows nothing. Too many artists are accepting of this arrangement. Data is power, and Apple holds the power. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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KickstarterKickstarter is looking for a VP of community and it looks like a wonderful opportunity. Real community work in a challenging, but rewarding atmosphere.

What really caught my eye was this: “The VP of community is responsible for three key areas of our operations: Community Support, Community Engagement, and Integrity.”

An Integrity team that reports to the VP of community. I’ve never seen that before, but I love it, and it works. Especially for Kickstarter.

This is how they describe the Integrity team:

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