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Lost Stool
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive is an emerging technology conference. Since I’ve been going, the internet has been very ingrained in whatever has constituted “emerging technology.” As such, the conference has been very internet centric.

And yet, when I was down in Austin this year, connecting with people and visiting with friends, it reminded me (as it always tends to) that it’s important to keep the internet in context. This is especially true for online community professionals because our work is almost entirely online.

The danger here is that when you work online all day, you tend to get too caught up and place too much importance in your own world. Oh man, this is a big situation. This server is down. That member is angry. Activity dropped this month. Catastrophe! Noise, noise, noise.

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P022513PS-0063

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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Billy-Blob's Codicils
Creative Commons License photo credit: epiclectic

Bill Cosby did a show down at South by Southwest. I was at the conference with my brother Sean, and we wanted to go because it’s Bill Cosby, the legend. We decided that we wouldn’t get in line 3-4 hours before the show, like some people did. Instead, we would get there with 1-2 hours to go and, if we made it in, great.

We took our spot in line about an hour and 15 minutes before he was scheduled to go on. At that point, our odds of getting in looked pretty bleak. But we decided to wait it out. We met Anthony Lux, who was in line next to us, and ended up talking with him for much of it, and hit the food trucks with him after the show.

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10 Reasons to Appreciate Your Community Manager

Posted by Patrick on January 27th, 2014 in Thinking

Today is the fifth annual Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD). Check out the festivities taking place today over at My Community Manager’s dedicated website. In honor of the day, I present to you 10 reasons that you should appreciate the manager of your online community.

If you participate in an online community that you enjoy, it might be cool to take a moment and write a note to the manager of that community, letting them know that you appreciate what they do.

Of course, there are many different reasons to appreciate a community manager and it varies by the community and the person. But as I reflected on my time managing communities, what my members have told me and my experience as a member of communities managed by other people, here are 10 that I think are worth noting.

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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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In my final article of 2013, I reviewed data from member reports of inappropriate posts on my community, outlining the most popular reasons that posts are reported. For my first article of 2014, I thought I’d take a look at how community software platforms can address these issues and make all of our lives a little easier.

Not all automation is good, but I’m a fan of automation that works well without having a negative impact on member experience. I am going to discuss solutions that I feel could fit into this mold, as well as other manual solutions that could be built into software.

Some ideas could be impacted by technical limitations, such as server resources, but I am going to approach this from an ideal perspective. I think about this sort of thing all the time and I wanted to share some ideas freely. Any software vendor reading this, please feel free to take them (though credit is always nice). I do think it would be fun to take a role at a vendor where my job would be to focus on features and functionality, especially on the manager end of the spectrum. Maybe I’ll do that some day.

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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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Amazon.comAmazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos appeared on 60 Minutes earlier this week for an interview with Charlie Rose. I’m a big fan of Bezos and Amazon (disclosure: I’m also a long term shareholder). There were some great things that Bezos said. One of the quotes that caught my eye was about Amazon’s finite lifespan.

Jeff Bezos: Companies have short life spans, Charlie. And Amazon will be disrupted one day.

Charlie Rose: And you worry about that?

Bezos: I don’t worry about it because I know it’s inevitable. Companies come and go. And the companies that are the shiniest and most important of any era, you wait a few decades and they’re gone.

Rose: And your job is to make sure that you delay that date?

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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 KarateForums.com 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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