A lot of people complain about negative reviews, but don’t take the time to actively refer happy customers to review sites. It’s not really that hard. It just takes an active effort. You can always encourage people to post reviews on certain outlets through signage or your receipts. But I’d go beyond that.

When someone tells you that they’ve had a wonderful experience with your business or product, that is an opportunity to invite them to post a review on a particular service (whatever service is most important at that moment). This only comes after you have listened to them, answered any questions and sincerely thanked them. However, it can manifest itself in different ways.

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I’ve never really liked temporary bans. When I ban someone, it means something. It’s not easy to be banned. My philosophy is that, as long as someone appears to be trying to follow our guidelines, we shouldn’t ban them.

That’s why I don’t like infraction systems and have never used them. Though I understand they are an invention of scale, if at all possible, access to a community shouldn’t be decided by an accumulation of points.

When it comes to being banned or not, it’s the member that really makes the choice. We just push a button.

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AMAs Aren’t Just for reddit

Posted by Patrick on June 11th, 2015 in Community Cultivation

reddit is widely known for their AMAs. Short for Ask Me Anything, these are reddit posts that invite questions from the community. These questions (or as many of them as possible) are then answered by the poster. Many of the AMAs that receive a lot of attention are hosted by celebrities, but plenty aren’t. To be a good subject, you really just have to be someone who people want to know more about.

A few recent examples: a retired bank robber, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a longtime NASA engineer, scientist Bill Nye and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

All of these link to the main /r/IAmA subreddit, one of the most popular sections of reddit. However, AMAs also occur in niche sections. In fact, for many who want to host an AMA, the best bet for success is to find a subreddit that speaks more directly to what they have to share.

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Have you ever launched an online community independently, with no budget? Without someone else’s money? Without a team supporting you? Without the resources of a larger organization? If you’ve never done it, and you really want to grow as a professional, give it a try. If you run community for a big brand, start an unrelated community on the side, in your free time.

I’m not talking about a Twitter following or a blog or something like that. I’m talking about a hosted online community where all contributions are equal and people engage with one another. A place where you are responsible for everything. Something goes wrong? You have to fix it.

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Earlier this week, LEGO released LEGO Worlds, “a fully open-world, creativity-driven game.” It’s the digital LEGO set and is widely-described as the company’s answer to Minecraft.

However, this isn’t LEGO’s first foray into open-world gaming. Previously, they offered LEGO Universe, an MMO (massively multiplayer online game) that was officially released to the public in October of 2010. The service was shuttered in January of 2012 due to a lack of a “satisfactory revenue model.”

Megan Fox, a former senior programmer on the LEGO Universe team who now heads Glass Bottom Games, shared an interesting story on Twitter, describing one of the big challenges they faced, in creating a kid-friendly MMO: penises.

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When your online community is focused on a particular topic – as most online communities tend to be – the emphasis tends to be on expanding as it relates to the subject matter of your community.

If you’re a toy community, and you see a lot of discussion around a particular toy or type of toys, you’ll launch a new section for those toys. If you’re a web development community, and you see a lot of questions about a particular programming language, you’ll introduce a new section for that language. And so on. That makes sense.

What can be lost in the shuffle, however, is the off-topic section. If you look for the off-topic section on most communities, that’s all you’ll find. One section, dedicated to everything that isn’t about the chosen topic. Sure, they might have an introductions section, an area for announcements and maybe one or two other forums, but for the most part, everything “else” is happening in that one section.

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In the past, I’ve seen forum owners and managers suggest that it was harder to grow their forums or their hosted community because of people spreading their time out across different forms of social media. I think that’s probably true, but I don’t see it as a bad thing.

What we’re seeing is platform diversification. Forums are fine. We just have more options, and we use the options that best fit a particular need.

But if you run a forum or a hosted community, you have to accept a simple reality: people will spend time on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. Once you accept that reality, you can begin to utilize these platforms to offer community members more value and to engage with them – and others – with the idea of driving traffic back to your community.

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PatreonI see Patreon as a really interesting community platform. The service allows creators to receive financial support directly from those who appreciate their work. It’s become really popular and is used by all types of creators: YouTubers, musicians, cartoonists, writers, podcasters, artists, photographers, filmmakers and more.

The longer I thought about it, the more I decided it would be fun to experiment with it for my work here.

If you look around at this site, you’ll see it really isn’t built for consulting. Even when I receive those emails, once in a while, I usually decline or recommend a person for them to talk to. Consulting isn’t the point of my work. I view myself, first and foremost, as a resource for fellow practitioners. I love to offer whatever support I can to professionals in this space, and those aspiring to be one.

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I guess my first community role was probably when I moderated a community that related to my personal interests. It was back in the 1990s and I was a moderator for years. I made thousands of posts and was even promoted to senior moderator.

I’m sure I learned numerous things during my time there. But there is only one thing that stands out to me, years later. There is only one story I still tell regularly, even 17+ years later.

During my years there, I estimate the administrator I worked under thanked me approximately twice.

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Credit: yoppy (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: yoppy (CC BY 2.0)

Friday marked an incredible milestone for one of my moderators: Heidi Wilmott, known on as ninjanurse, has been a moderator with me for 10 years. 10 years! It’s amazing.

It’s rare to manage the same community for 10 years, let alone to have a moderator with you, at the same community, for 10 consecutive years. I have managed from the start, and the community will hit 14 years online on Thursday. Heidi has been a member for more than 12 years and 3 months and will have been a staff member for 12 years come June.

I think that Heidi’s accomplishment says some interesting things – about her, the community and me.

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