282/365 - Forbiden
Creative Commons License photo credit: EcoVirtual

If you run a search on Google, it’s easy to find people who have been banned from forums. Because they’re talking about it. Many are trying to figure out how to get around the ban or how to change their IP address.

But changing your IP address isn’t the best way to go about it. Not if you really enjoy the forum and want to return. If you are reading this and this describes you, my intent is to help you to get back onto this forum in the best manner possible, if that is what you are after.

I know this sounds crazy and it might not be the most popular answer, but the first step is that you should accept the ban and move on, even if they are being unfair to you. I have been on all sides of this and have been banned myself. Let me explain.

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YouTubeFrom September 22, 2012 through August 19, 2013, I hosted Soda Tasting, an online show dedicated to soda reviews and appreciation. In less than a year, I was able to develop a show that was receiving 500 views a day and had more than 1,000 subscribers, trending upward.

I left a show that was growing because I decided to focus my time elsewhere and to hit some new fitness goals. Since I stopped producing the show, it has only continued to grow. I’m kind of surprised by that, but it speaks to the quality of the content and the way I positioned it. One can only imagine where I’d be if I had continued to publish new, quality content.

People complain that there is too much competition on YouTube. That it’s too late. That everyone popular simply got in early. Those are made up obstacles and excuses that don’t give enough credit to the people who are popular on YouTube and the work they have put in.

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Xubuntu 13.10
Creative Commons License photo credit: dno1967b

I recently had someone ask me why I haven’t written (in a long time, anyway) about my recommendations for community software. It’s a good, fair question and I wanted to answer it.

The title of this article might sound a bit callous. I care about community managers and professionals, not software. So when I say I don’t care what software you use, what I really mean is that I am not passionate about your choice, like a person might be passionate about a political party and only vote for candidates in that party.

That’s just not how I operate. No matter what software you choose, I’m not going to be all over you about it. I still want to help. That’s the extended title of this article: “I Don’t Care What Community Software You Use… I Still Want to Help If I Can.”

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On October 15, I received an email from Empire Avenue, letting me know that my account was in danger of being marked inactive. “You are about to lose status, leaderboards and more!” It said my account had not been active for 27 days and, in order to keep my account, I had to login.

I received the same email on November 23, February 3, March 23 and May 13 and June 10. I may have deleted some in between, I don’t remember.

Empire Avenue was once a buzzed about social site and has settled into being a community of people who enjoy the service and the idea of a stock market for online personalities. Which is fine. I’m not active on it. I log into it once in awhile and spend the accumulated currency.

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“Photoshop this girl: Photoshop anything on her, about her and can someone please Photoshop her fat :-D.”

This is a recent post made on, a community that I manage. I don’t think that “make this person fat” is all that unique of a request for Photoshop and graphic design focused communities. After all, one of the things that people use the software for is to manipulate images. Sometimes they make people skinnier, sometimes they make them bald (we have had a surprising number of requests for people who want to see what they would look like bald before they actually shave their head), sometimes they put them on a bicycle.

That is to say, I am sure there are communities that would allow this request. I don’t know that I want to necessarily condemn them (it’s easy to get judgmental, harder to be patient and compassionate). But I just know that I don’t want to be one of them.

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CareersIf you are a veteran of this profession – or you are new and hope to one day become one – I’d like to reflect a bit on the career path of the community management professional. Specifically, I would like to encourage you to seek advancement and not sell yourself short.

When we sell ourselves short as professionals, we don’t do justice to the importance of our industry. It impacts the space and those who work in it, in a negative way. It holds us back.

I know that, sometimes, you just have to take what you can get. You have a family to support. I respect that and it’s not what I am talking about. Also, if you are happy where you are and don’t want to take what might be a higher pressure role, I totally get that, as well. Family and happiness should be your priorities.

But then there are those of us who might not be aware of what is out there. Or we just might be a little too comfortable. Or possibly we are a bit too accommodating and too willing to compromise that we do so at our own detriment. You have to know your worth.

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When there are new tools that we can use to engage with our community, we tend to focus on the great features those tools have, how easy they are for people to use, the cost of them and the value they offer.

One thing that gets lost, but that should always be at the front of our minds, is how the tool separates us from our community. If we wish to stop using the tool, do we have access to the community data? Or can the tool effectively hold us hostage?

If they can hold us hostage, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it, but you just have to be very aware of what you are doing. For example, Facebook and Twitter would fall into that camp of tools. You are engaging with people, but you can’t take your database of Facebook Page likes and do anything off of Facebook with it.

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Community and Customer Success Make a Good Mix

Posted by Patrick on May 29th, 2014 in Thinking

More and more, I’m seeing customer success fall under the responsibilities of the community department at various companies, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). That makes perfect sense.

Where marketing grows your customer base, community aides you in keeping those customers by helping them to maximize the use of your product. Yes, those lines are muddied sometimes, yes, marketing helps you keep customers and, yes, there are exceptions that need not be mentioned.

You might be saying “but Patrick, that’s how it has been already. Community is essentially customer success for many companies and has been for a long time.” You wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily, but I think what we are seeing now is more of a formalization of it. Job titles including something extra and job descriptions making it clearer. David DeWald does this at Meg Christolini did this at CoTweet. And the list goes on.

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Film director Quentin Tarantino held a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday. He was asked about the possibility of his movies being re-released as director’s cuts or with added footage. Seeing as all of his movies are the director’s cut, he wasn’t really a fan of that idea.

However, he talked about how he has 90 minutes of footage from Django Unchained that has never been seen. He said that “the idea is to cut together a four-hour version, but not show it like a four-hour movie,” adding that he could “cut it up into one-hour chapters like a four-part miniseries and show it on cable television. People love those!

With binge watching – for example, watching all episodes of a show on Netflix at one time or in a short period – being such a common thing these days, Tarantino added that people would “be dying to watch all four episodes in one go.”

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Speaking of helping people, I’d like to take a moment and ask how I can help you? What can I write about? Do you have a challenge that you’d like me to think about? Is there a community management related issue that you’d like me to comment on?

If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I know that these situations can sometimes be sensitive, so feel free to email me instead. If I write about your situation, I will be happy to keep your name anonymous and any sensitive details private, upon request.

I like writing about matters that directly affect the people who read my work, so please don’t hesitate to ask for input or suggest a topic at any time.

Thank you for reading and for for your support.