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Periplaneta americana, Face, MD, Prince Georges county_2014-02-27-15.31.28 ZS PMax
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sam Droege

When members of your community defend you, it’s a great feeling. You could run a forum and a member defends your moderation efforts. You could host a show on YouTube and a subscriber defends you against a personal attack. You could be a major brand and, during a crisis, you have overwhelming support through your Facebook page.

Whatever it is, it feels good.

However, when this happens to me, after that initial wave of gratitude, I often feel something else. It makes me uncomfortable. Because, quite often, the person that they are defending me against is not worth speaking to. They aren’t good people and they aren’t commenting in good faith. They just want to cause harm.

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Monetizing Online ForumsMonetizing Online Forums, the ebook that I authored that was published by Skimlinks in July of 2012, has now reached 20,000 downloads.

When I began to work on the ebook (when it was only expected to be 10-20 pages, rather than the 100 it ended up being), I didn’t really have any expectations. I had never written a free ebook and, frankly, I didn’t really want to. Most free ebooks just aren’t particularly valuable.

I don’t write stuff for list generation. I write stuff so people can feel empowered and not need to contact me at all. But Alicia Navarro and Joe Stepniewski of Skimlinks convinced me that I could do what I wanted, and treat it like my second book.

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@iamdiddyA while back, I complemented someone on Twitter. For reference, he has 27 followers as I write this. He’s unknown in his field and is just starting out. I happened across some work he did and sent some kind words his way, encouraging him to keep pursuing his craft.

He favorited the tweet. He retweeted the tweet. But he didn’t say anything to me. That made me feel kind of weird.

It’s not a big deal. I don’t want to make it about me. I don’t send people encouraging words because I want them to thank me. I do it because I want to support them. But it got me to thinking about building community online and how to most effectively make people feel appreciated.

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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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#CMGRHangout: Loving Your CommunityLast Friday, I had the pleasure of appearing on My Community Manager’s #CMGRHangout, a weekly Google+ Hangout covering online community management. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the episode was titled “Loving Your Community,” and we focused on how you can show your community members that you appreciate them.

The program is hosted by Jonathan Brewer and Sherrie Rohde, who do a really great job. When they invited me, they asked if there were any other community professionals that I’d like to have on with me. That led to us being joined by David Williams, Sarah Hawk and Sue John. Tim McDonald and Abhishek Rai completed the panel. In all, we had a really solid, veteran group with approximately 50 years of community management experience between us.

To give you an idea of what we talked about, here are the questions that drove the discussion:

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Invo at UXPA Boston
Creative Commons License photo credit: juhansonin

Earlier this week, I wrote about organizing low-key meetups with your community members at conferences and events. This approach is limited, though, because if you are not sponsoring an event, you should really only engage in behaviors that do not compete with the conference and its sponsors, otherwise you risk breaching conference policies or ethical standards.

By sponsoring an event, you open yourself up to a bigger world of opportunities. You are simply allowed to do much more. Each event will vary, but sponsorship has its perks. In how you can interact with attendees, how you can promote your community and how much the conference organizers can help you.

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img_2583
Creative Commons License photo credit: steevithak

When members of an online community meet face to face, something magical happens. Connections strengthen and bonds are solidified. It helps people appreciate the community even more.

The prospect of organizing an in-person meetup can seem pretty daunting. Is it just a quick hello at a bar or coffee shop? Or is it a bigger event to justify a trip? What city do you host it in? What venue? When? What will people do?  Will you offer food? How much money do you need and where will it come from? What about insurance and legalities? Even if it is a lot of work, there is great value to be had in hosting your own offline event that stands on its own.

But it can also make a lot of sense to do something at a conference that already exists, that is related to your community. For example, if your community is about entertainment, movies or comic books, you could do something at Comic-Con. If it’s about knitting, maybe you go to STITCHES. If golf is the subject of your community, then you might go to the PGA Merchandise Show.

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Locking Up the Rubbish
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

I’m in the process of trying to slightly improve the security of the logins I use online. Yes, this has to do with the story I told the other day. One of the things that I am doing is strengthening the passwords on some of my crucial logins. This includes the logins for the online communities that I manage.

I thought I would encourage you to do the same.

Use as many different characters as your software will allow you to use. If possible, not just letters and numbers, but also symbols. Passwords like :!kT!vuDl%3qFFKt~|dnYt’xU=KB@v. But don’t stop with your account. Encourage your staff members to do the same for their accounts.

But don’t stop there. Think about how else people can access your account. Likely, the only other means is through the email address listed on your account, through a forgot password form. They hack the email, request a password and they are in. Ensure your email password is similarly strong and that, if your email service offers it, you have two-factor authentication enabled. Suggest that your staff to do the same.

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Graffiti 2.0
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

I find Naoki Hiroshima’s story to be depressing. It paints a rather bleak picture for web security and if it leaves you feeling helpless, you aren’t alone.

If you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so. To sum it up briefly, Hiroshima was the holder of the @N account on Twitter. Someone wanted it. They couldn’t hack into the account itself, so they instead manipulated their way into his GoDaddy account. The attacker said that they were able to convince PayPal to give them the last four digits of a credit card on file (PayPal denies this) and then they used that as a means to help convince a GoDaddy customer service rep that they were the account holder.

Once they had access to his GoDaddy account, they essentially controlled Hiroshima’s domain names. The attacker contacted him and said that the domain names would disappear if he didn’t hand over the Twitter account. Hiroshima says that GoDaddy refused to help him, so he made the exchange and, as of this moment, he still doesn’t have his @N account.

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Bad Community Managers EverywhereI was recently talking with Lionel Scaramal, the long-time manager of Forum-Auto.com for Caradisiac. Specifically, I asked him for perspective on the community management profession in France and the good things he sees, as well as the bad.

He mentioned that he regularly sees community managers bashing other community managers. I thought this was interesting and I asked him to tell me more. He was kind enough to write a guest post.

You know what really grinds my gears? It’s what I will call “CM bashing.” Community managers who often make a public show of pointing out and trumpeting mistakes made by other community managers.

In managing online communities, we all have users who think they can do our job better than we can. And many people think that because they are on Facebook, Twitter or your forums, they are entitled to provide poor, unsolicited pieces of advice. OK, I can understand that, to a certain extent.

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