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Rotten TomatoesBack in October, movie ticket seller Fandango was caught manipulating the star ratings on their website in a dishonest, misleading way. Users rate movies on the service, through a 5 star scale, and an average rating is then displayed to illustrate the sentiment of the average moviegoer. The average rating is always rounded to a half-star.

FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey crunched the numbers and found that, when this rounding occurred, Fandango was always rounding up. A movie rated 4.6 or 4.7 would become a 5, not a 4.5. In 38 cases (out of 437 movies), a rating was actually bumped a full half star or more. In other words, a 4.5 becoming a 5.

Suffice to say, this story gained a lot of traction and it has certainly impacted how people view Fandango and even online movie ratings in general. Fandango blamed technical glitches, and it appears that they have fixed the problem.

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When resources, both free and paid, crop up around an industry, it’s a net positive. It means that there is growth, to the point where businesses can be built around educating, connecting and empowering those who operate in the space – or, perhaps more commonly, those thinking about entering it.

With money, can come hype. Sometimes the people behind a resource might get a little overzealous in how they promote it. Perhaps they make it sound like it is required learning if you want to excel or that, if you don’t partake in it, you are somehow inferior.

In reality, these resources are simply a component, of many, that can help you become a better community professional. Books, college courses, conferences, certifications, memberships, training programs and workshops are simply optional components. They can help you to become great, but you are not great simply because you consume them.

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According to a new study, when a company responds to a complaint posted in an online forum, they receive a greater boost to consumer advocacy than when responding to complaints lodged through phone, email, social media or review sites.

The study was conducted by Jay Baer and Edison Research for Jay’s new book, Hug Your Haters. The book is about customer service – specifically, about embracing complaints. This is something I believe in. I sell more books by responding to bad reviews. As Jay says in Hug Your Haters, “Not responding is a response. A response that says, ‘I don’t care about you.'”

They surveyed “more than 2,000 American consumers who have complained about a company in the previous 12 months, with the study participants representing a statistically valid cross-section of ages, incomes, racial make-ups, and technology aptitudes.”

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For Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD), I organized a panel discussion about managing online community volunteer programs. I was joined by a wonderful lineup, including David DeWald, Rebecca Newton and Scott Moore.

The panel was part of My Community Manager’s 24 hour CMAD livestream. Thank you to everyone who was involved in putting the event together, including Jonathan Brewer, Sherrie Rohde, Dom Garrett, Berrak Sarikaya, Aaron Biebert, Rachel Miller, Christin Kardos and Carrie Keenan.

One of the consistent themes in the conversation was the importance of respecting volunteers. Part of that is having at least some understanding of the laws that relate to volunteers in your country. In the U.S., we have something called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is one of the most important laws for U.S.-based community professionals. It provides safe harbor from liability for copyright infringement committed by our communities by users.

Copyright consultant Jonathan Bailey contacted me the other day to highlight a very important point about qualifying for this safe harbor. It’s not enough to adopt a system where you proactively address copyright infringing material on your site. It’s not enough to make it easy to contact you through your website and to quickly respond to notices.

You must register your DMCA agent with the Copyright Office by submitting this form, and make sure that the designation stays updated. But no, you can’t just register the name of your company. You must also register the name of the community and any alternative names.

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Right now, I’m interviewing for a role at a company you know. You probably have one – or many – of their products. I’m not sure it’s the role for me – I turned down the interest initially – but I decided to take the interview out of respect for a friend of mine who is going to do amazing work for them.

On the first call, I was asked that great question we all love: how much do you make now?

As an independent, self-employed professional who manages communities, and engages in writing, speaking and the tiniest bit of consulting, my income varies wildly. I have unmatched freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. That’s not what a role at a company represents. It’s quite the opposite. Less freedom, consistent paycheck. I’m not going to tell you what I make now.

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8 Years of ManagingCommunities.com!

Posted by Patrick on January 28th, 2016 in ManagingCommunities.com

I launched ManagingCommunities.com 8 years ago. At that point, I had been managing online communities for about 8 years (and moderating them for 10). After 5 years in development and approximately 100 publishers who didn’t want to publish a book about community, Managing Online Forums was about to be released. I decided I wanted to start writing about community regularly.

Even after all this time, I still keep a close eye on mentions of my work, and it still means a lot to me when something I wrote helps someone. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of my work. If you’ve shared it, provided a thoughtful comment or a kind word in private, that means you.

Looking forward, I am planning to make some changes to this website. It needs a new design, and probably the biggest part of that will be completely overhauling how information is organized. It’s badly needed. It’ll take some time to make these changes, but I am really excited about them.

Thank you for 8 years of ManagingCommunities.com!

You may love your onboarding process. It might be a beautiful, well-thought out series of steps meant to make people feel more comfortable and begin their journey as a contributor.

But if I can’t skip it, it’s a mistake.

Last weekend, I found myself on a somewhat well-known social media platform (and online community, of sorts), going through their onboarding. It started off simply enough: with a list of suggested topics I could follow.

Here’s the thing: I virtually never do suggested topics or follow suggested users. I skip. I don’t want to pick suggested topics because suggested topics lead to notifications via the site and email. It clogs my feed and my inbox. I don’t want any of it.

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My Rules for Self-Care as a Community Professional

Posted by Patrick on January 18th, 2016 in Thinking

On the most recent episode of Community Signal, I chatted with Sherrie Rohde about self-care for community professionals. Self-care is exactly what it sounds like: making time to take care of yourself.

In our line of work, we are sometimes told that community is a 24/7 gig. That because the internet is always on, so must we be. I know this sounds rude, but ignore anyone who says this. That belief leads to burnout, and it drives people out of our industry (or worse).

I take pride in my work ethic, but I try not to confuse that with a lack of balance. As Sherrie said on the show, “taking the time to take care of yourself, so that you can be who you need to be for your community, makes you so much more effective and so much more what they need.”

Here are my simple rules for self-care.

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In 2015, I interviewed for four different jobs. I had loose discussions about a few other opportunities and turned down interest from a really big company.

None of these jobs were a fit. But I couldn’t have known that without going through the process. The fact is, after I went through the interview process for these four jobs, there was only one that I actually wanted.

It can be a real struggle to find a role that ticks off the important boxes, especially for a senior or executive-level community professional, who wants to stay in the industry. I haven’t really seen any experienced professionals in our space talk about the interviews they have gone through, for the jobs they didn’t accept – or didn’t get offered. I’m happy to share my experiences over the last 12 months.

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