Talk martial arts at

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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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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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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When you hear the term “forensic evidence,” you think about police work and court cases. You think about DNA, blood and finger prints. You don’t think about online communities.

But our communities are home to a great deal of digital DNA and trace information. This evidence can be used to identify people who are trying to abuse or take advantage of our communities. Yet I don’t know of any software options that are making use of the data in this way.

There are certain key areas where this could be very helpful, where it could take a task best performed by machines and let a machine perform it.

I am sure that there are many ways this would be done, but I’ll give you one good example. Members who hold multiple accounts to push an agenda, agree with themselves or promote something. How could the software help, you might ask? Well, what if you received a notification in your admin area whenever any of these things happened:

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Sometimes, when you are visiting your community, you will see a post that is really borderline. After consideration, you determine that this post is OK and does fit within your guidelines, even if it is just barely.

But your moderators don’t know that, unless you tell them. And because it is borderline, there is a fair chance that a moderator will remove it. If they do, you’ll have to correct it. How can you prevent this and inform them that the post is OK?

You could make a post in your documentation system, as a note tied to the member who made the post. But that might not be seen before the post itself. You could post in the general staff forum. But that has the same problem. You could send a private message or email to each staff member. That will probably work. But it is a little more unwieldy and time consuming, for everyone, than is necessary.

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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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All Caught UpI’m not as down on the deeper Google+ and YouTube integration as a lot of YouTubers. I think it brings some interesting things, some of which can be beneficial to content creators and for community building.

YouTube eliminating comment notification emails was not one of those things.

When it comes to manual moderation, this represents a step back. I used to archive all email comment notifications to serve as documentation for any comments I removed. For example: I ban someone. They email me asking why. I can go back, look at my email archives and remember that “oh yeah, you are a racist.”

YouTube has no system of documenting removed comments or why someone was banned. I really dislike not being able to remember or having doubt. Documentation always removes doubt. For me, emails were that documentation. They weren’t perfect, because they didn’t include the full comment, just a truncated version. But they usually included the gist.

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YouTubeI used to host an online show called Soda Tasting. Though I had a nice website and I interacted with people on various platforms, by and large, my interaction with people occurred on YouTube. And the reputation that YouTube comments have is generally deserving.

That said, the Soda Tasting community of viewers was a utopia and it was that way for two reasons. 1. There are great, cool people out there and some of them were attracted to the show. 2. When someone showed up who was neither great, nor cool, I would delete their comments and sometimes ban them.

Even though I have stopped hosting the show, I still allow comments on YouTube (for the moment) and I still monitor them to ensure that they are respectful, in line with the personality and atmosphere of the show. As always, anything rude or disrespectful is removed.

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Extra CreditsExtra Credits is a web show that takes a “deeper look at games; how they are made, what they mean and how we can make them better,” according to Penny Arcade, where the show is distributed. In their latest episode, shared with me by my friend Jonathan Bailey, number 11 of their seventh season, they tackle community management. I will embed the episode at the bottom of this article.

There are a couple of things I want to discuss, but before I do that, I want to praise the clip. I enjoyed it and I’m glad to see community management’s continued push into the mainstream. Gaming has always been among the industries that have most readily adopted this profession, so it only makes sense that a gaming focused show would dedicate an episode to the subject.

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Hakone Ropeway @ From Sounzan to Owakudani @ Hakone
Creative Commons License photo credit: *_*

When hit 500,000 posts, one of the things that we did to celebrate was to conduct a series of interviews with the most influential members in the history of the community. They were taken from various eras. It included members who have been with us for more than 10 years, for 5 years, for 2 years – all different time spans. Some members are still active, some come and go, some left a while ago.

In all, it was 26 different members and these 26 are members who have contributed a lot. They are the ideal members. People who are kind and post great content. They are the members we can never have enough of.

One of the questions that we asked them was: after you found the community, why did you stay? For community managers, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the answers they provided, as it provides an understanding of why people continue to come back and contribute to a community. I am going to include the answers in full, without editing them and identify some of the common themes. Any emphasis is mine.

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