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Office Space
Creative Commons License photo credit: WallTea

Last week, photo sharing community Flickr, responding to a member suggestion, enabled code that blocked Pinterest users from pinning photos where the photographer has turned off sharing options or marked a photo as private or adult.

Though VentureBeat reported the story initially, Aaron Hockley has the most concise, accurate run down of the move (which I found through Flickr member Jake Rome).

The code that Flickr integrated was introduced by Pinterest just two days prior to the suggestion being made, in an effort to address dissatisfaction with how the service manages copyright infringement.

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Since the beginning of time (relatively speaking, of course), online forums and communities have held contests and giveaways in an effort to grow their member base.

It gets them some attention. They notice an influx of new members. Then the contest ends. Shortly thereafter, most of the new members they noticed are gone.

It’s a repeating story and if you run a contest or a giveaway, it’ll happen to you. Doesn’t matter how great your community is. It’s nature.

You can do things to mitigate it, certainly. You can tie contests and giveaways to meaningful contributions to your community, giving people an opportunity to fall in love with what you offer and, at the very least even if they leave, you have some great conversation that remains after they are gone.

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Josh Barraza asked if I would talk about how you can revive a “dead” online community. That’s a great suggestion.

Before we talk about the how, there are a couple of simple truths that we need to keep in mind.

The definition of “dead” will vary by person, by community and by person running the community. You may look at something as “dead” when someone else sees it as fine.

If you are running the community and you consider it dead, then that is one thing. But, otherwise, be careful how you view, and judge, other communities. They aren’t always intended to have regular activity or to grow on an activity basis. Everyone has different goals.

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Apples
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gonmi

Treat people as you want to be treated.

I apply the golden rule to a lot of different circumstances, including how I manage my communities, with respect to other communities.

I’ll give you a few examples.

It’s not unheard of that a member of a community, not necessarily mine, but any, would complain about another one that they have joined previously and participated in and/or been banned from.

That community is the worst. The administrator is a jerk and a megalomaniac. This community is so much better.

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Puzzle macro
Creative Commons License photo credit: dakotaduff

Steve Magruder asked: “How [can you] motivate users to see the value of your board when many of them don’t seem to “get it?” I sometimes wonder if my site’s mission is lost on people, even though I have striven to make it as plain as day.”

“… How can I get people to appreciate that they have an open discussion space for discussing local issues (or any subject as it applies to other sites) and the power that lends them? It seems like so many are lost on the power of public discourse.”

Thank you for the question, Mr. Magruder. The truth is that you don’t get a lot of opportunities to communicate the value of your site because that isn’t generally what people are looking for. They judge your community based upon it’s content, features and activity.

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IMG_4942
Creative Commons License photo credit: K . Chan

Launching a new online community can be daunting. How can I get those first few members? Unfortunately, there is no magic trick. It’s time and hard work.

However, that doesn’t mean that being new is all bad. You would do well to recognize that being new, while in some ways a disadvantage, can also be an advantage, in two key ways.

First, people want to know about new things. That is what media outlets cover. They cover things that are new. If you can come up with an interesting way to pitch it, you might be able to get coverage and attention, simply for being new and well put together. No one wants to know about new and sloppy.

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Loving County: Least populous county in the US
Creative Commons License photo credit: rutlo

My friend Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today, who I co-host the Copyright 2.0 Show with, asked me to write about the following topic:

One thing I’d be very interested in, something I don’t think you’ve covered here, is an article about how to get a community started.

If a community is like a fire that you have to cultivate and maintain, I want to know how to light the spark so to speak including getting the first members, encouraging the start of the conversation and so forth.

If you are thinking about launching a community on a given topic, there is a good chance that you know some people who are also interested in the topic. That is a good place to start. Reach out to them individually, tell them about your community and ask them if they would like to help you get it started.

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One of the more common questions I get asked is how you can grow your community and how you can get more activity. As with most things that require a great deal of work, people are looking for that magic, secret tip. But, that doesn’t exist because that’s not how it works.

Yes, there are some specific things that you can do that are directly related to online communities and may not be applicable in non-community spaces. While not all online communities may consider themselves to be a website (like communities built around a mobile app or a mailing list, for example – this post doesn’t really apply to them), it’s important to remember that, even though an online community is more than a website, it is still a website.

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In May, at WordCamp Raleigh, I ran into Ray Mitchell, a Winston Salem, North Carolina-based web designer, who I had met previously. SixFour Web Design is his company.

Mr. Mitchell recently shared a blog post request for me Twitter: “Special tips for managing LinkedIn Groups to build real community vs. self-promotion.” Thank you for the suggestion.

Upfront, I have to say that my experience with LinkedIn Groups is somewhat limited. I am currently a member of 10 groups (make that 8 as I just left two of them while working on this article) and I don’t actively participate in, or even read, any of them. But, at the same time – a platform is a platform and LinkedIn Groups is not dissimilar from other platforms. Much of what applies to building community on LinkedIn Groups will also apply to building on other platforms, as well.

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On Twitter, you have what is called a verified account. In Twitter’s words, a verified account is among the solutions that they are beta testing “so users can trust that the accounts they follow are legitimate.”

Furthermore, when Twitter users visit a verified account, they “know that tweets coming from well known personalities, organizations, government agencies, and others on Twitter are the real thing!”

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