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Engaging News ProjectI was on a call yesterday with Bassey Etim of The New York Times and David Williams of CNN. We were preparing for our conversation down at SXSW, walking through various talking points.

At one point, they mentioned research conducted by Talia Stroud, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin. Specifically, the finding that changing the “like” button to read “respect” meant that it was clicked more.

In doing some reading of my own following the call, I found the Engaging News Project, which Ms. Stroud leads. The project is dedicated to providing “research-based techniques for engaging online audiences in commercially viable and democratically beneficial ways.” A lot of their efforts have been focused on mainstream media comment sections.

Though the organization’s ideas are presented through the lens of a newsroom, there is plenty of thought provoking insight for people who manage community in other areas. Have a look at the research section and subscribe to the project’s Twitter and Facebook pages for more constant updates – plenty of which are directly relevant to community work.

The Community Professionals I Listen to and Why

Posted by Patrick on January 8th, 2015 in Resources

In December, CMX’s Facebook group hosted a discussion about community management mentors. In addition, David Spinks asked people who they turned to, in order to learn about community strategy.

2015 marks 15 years of community management for me (17 years of moderation) and, when I say 15 years, what I really mean is 15 years of learning. That’s what experience should be. 15 years doesn’t just mean that I started managing communities in 2000. It means that I started learning about community in 2000 and have continued learning ever since.

At a tech support community that I once managed, I had a member who mocked a staff member of mine because they had asked for help with something. The implication was that, because they asked for help, they were not qualified to help others or to be an expert. To ask for help – to learn about something you were supposedly an expert in – was a weakness, to that person. What a sad way to be.

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There are a lot of job opportunities out there for community management professionals. While the big job sites receive plenty of listings, the best way to cut through to the most attractive opportunities is to subscribe to resources that are dedicated to this industry.

By all means, create job search email notifications on Indeed and LinkedIn for all relevant keywords and titles. Be sure to include keywords that will sort out online community manager jobs from offline ones (like managing an apartment complex). Jobs do slip through the cracks – I’ve seen it happen – and subscribing to the big sites helps you to not miss them. But the best bet for finding a great job is to clue in to a few key resources. Here are my favorites. Even if you have been in this space for a while, you might not have heard of all of them!

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Everything in ModerationOne of my favorite community management blogs hasn’t published a new post in 10 years.

Last Wednesday marked 10 years since Tom Coates made his final post at Everything in Moderation. From September of 2003 through October of  2004, Coates made a total of 18 posts – 11 of them in October of 2003.

A mention of the blog was included in the earliest drafts of Managing Online Forums, going all the way back to 2004. The blog was not updated, but the link in the book stayed, as the book grew in length and became more published while publisher after publisher declined to release it. When the book was published in April of 2008, that mention remained because I liked the blog so much.

I forget how I discovered it, but once in a while, when I’m thinking about this profession, it’ll pop into my head. Coates shared a lot of value in those 18 posts. Here are my favorites:

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If you work in the online community space, I encourage you to learn about the history of online communities. Not only is it interesting; it’s beneficial to the work we do today. A little knowledge can go a long way. If you aren’t sure where to begin, the video embedded below is a great, approachable start.

The video is a conversation between Howard Rheingold, a well known online community pioneer, and his daughter, Mamie Rheingold, a project manager at Google whose work also involves community. Titled “Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Communities,” it was recorded during the Google Developer Groups Global Summit in June and released last week. I found it care of Bill Johnston.

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I’ve been a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk for a long time. Well before he released his first book, 101 Wines. I’ve also been managing online communities for a much long time. I always enjoy when Gary touches on our profession because he’s smart and, no matter what, him talking about it is good for us.

At the end of July, Gary talked about community management in a big way when he released a slide deck titled “Go Big on Community Management!” On LinkedIn, he wrote a blog post titled “Why Community Management Works.” On his personal site, he went even further: “If You Don’t Invest in Community Management, You’re Done For. Here’s Why.”

In the slides, Gary makes a point of saying that he has the data that supports the value of community management. “This time I have all the stats,” he writes. “Or at least the stats that mean something to all my corporate pals out there.”

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SXSW 2014If you are a regular reader, you know I’ve missed a few days of my usual Monday, Thursday schedule. Sorry about that. I think this is the first time I’ve missed a day since September of 2011. I take the schedule pretty seriously.

There are two big reasons for my break: South by Southwest (SXSW) and my health. SXSW was great once again. My health, not so great. I caught something, as can happen when you travel. I’m getting better slowly, even if it is still hanging on.

I’m working on getting back into the swing of things and I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the community management professionals that I met in person, for the first time, at SXSW. That way, you can check out their work and become familiar with them, as I have.

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Online Discussion Forums, Explained by Common Craft

Posted by Patrick on February 20th, 2014 in Resources

Online Discussion Forums, Explained by Common CraftLee LeFever understands community. He was a community manager from 1998 through 2003. That experience led him to found Common Craft in 2003. They are renowned as explainers – they specialize in videos that break down complex concepts in a couple of minutes, with a unique style and voice that is often imitated, but never duplicated.

What most people who know Common Craft probably don’t realize is that the company began not as a community management consultancy. It wasn’t until 2007 that Lee began making videos with his wife, Sachi. I feel fortunate to have known Lee as long as I have. It has been amazing to watch how Common Craft has grown and become so successful and I couldn’t be happier for them.

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Mean GuyYesterday, I spoke to a group of moderators at Australian National University. My talk centered around the nasty things that people say to community managers and moderators and my strategy for dealing with them. It was really lighthearted with many funny stories featuring real things that people have said to me.

Though funny to discuss, it is a real thing that happens and a point of stress for those who work in this space. Those funny stories served as the narrative for the practical lessons that I have learned over the years. Some of which I’ll write about soon. I also identified common themes that exist within abusive messages, such as negotiation and bargaining, threats, accusations of bias, accusations of corruption and comparisons to Hitler, the Nazis, Stalin, etc.

If you’ve been been moderating for a while, I thought you might enjoy having a look at the slide deck, if only for the entertainment value. I purposefully skipped over the types of things you need to report to authorities, like specific threats to your well being, and stuck with things people try to say to make you feel lesser or to intimidate you in doing what they want.

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The law of the land varies by the land. What might work in one country won’t work in another. Some countries are more strict, some less so. It is useful to know the laws that govern community management in your country.

That doesn’t mean you will necessarily know the law backwards and forwards (that’s why we have lawyers, because it can be so complex), but a basic understanding of the protections you are provided under the law can go a long way to ensuring confidence in the decisions that you make for your community. In this post, I’d like to highlight two particular acts that community managers based in the United States should know about.

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