SUBSCRIBEGoogle+

Stars, Hearts and Forcing Emotion Where There Is None

Posted by Patrick on November 5th, 2015 in Thinking

Before and AfterOn Tuesday, Twitter made a seemingly small, but not quite insignificant change. They replaced the star icon with a heart. The tweets that had been marked as “favorites” previously, were now marked as “likes.”

Twitter released a video when they announced the change (embedded below), where they provided a sample list of emotions and statements that could be indicated by using the heart icon. These included “yes!,” “congrats,” “LOL,” “aborbs,” “stay strong,” “hugs,” “wow,” “aww” and “high five.”

Whenever Twitter makes a change, there are complaints. That doesn’t mean the change isn’t worthwhile. And I’m not here to tell you this is a big deal. However, I do think there are some interesting dynamics at play, especially when it comes to how we manipulate user intent by retroactively applying new labels to previous user actions.

Read More

Not Sure If TrollingMy approach to “trolling” on my communities is very simple. I don’t care. I don’t bother myself with trying to identify people as trolls – and I don’t encourage or allow my members to do it in public, either.

My belief is that good guidelines filter out the vast majority of harmful or annoying trolls. People aren’t kicked off of my communities for “trolling.” They’re banned for repeated violations of our community guidelines, such as inflammatory comments, profanity, general religious discussions, and so on.

I say this as someone who has managed communities that were targeted by groups with a plan to “troll” the community. These things happen. They come in waves. It’s a process. Identify harmful content, remove any trace of it, ban the offenders (sometimes more creatively) and don’t allow people to give them attention.

Read More

Caption: Varvara (CC BY 2.0)

Caption: Varvara (CC BY 2.0)

If you want a community initiative to be successful, don’t rely only on announcements, prominent calls to action and mailing lists. Pound the pavement, contact 10-20 influential members in the community and ask them to get behind it by participating.

The 14th annual KarateForums.com Awards started last week. Over the last 13 years, 128 different members have been nominated for an award. It is completely powered by the community and is a fun time of the year.

Yes, we announce it. Yes, we have a link in our header. Yes, we mention it on our Facebook page. Yes, the staff gets behind it and adds a link to their signatures. Yes, we add some pointers in popular sections.

Read More

With Fandango’s sabotaging the credibility of their own user ratings and Amazon suing more than 1,000 Fiverr users for posting fake product reviews, I thought it would be fun to talk about building trust in review systems.

If people can’t trust your reviews, you may as well not have them at all.

Having a code of conduct you actually enforce is important. But let’s think about this in a bigger sense, focusing on 3 key ideas that have to do with the systems you use and the data they have access to.

Read More

As professionals, we are diverse. None of us has all the answers. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We have areas we are known for (fair or not). We have skills that people don’t know we have. We are always improving and growing.

There is one semi-persistent blind spot I encounter as I talk with community professionals. It’s not the ability to look at numbers and use them to make a decision. It’s not ROI. It’s not growing activity. It’s not scaling a community.

It’s the law. Specifically, the law as it relates to our profession. Even if you have a legal department to run things through – which many don’t – an understanding of the law empowers you to confidently take action and manage your community.

Read More

FandangoIf you are going to have online ratings and reviews on your website, community or app, they need to have integrity. Or they are garbage. It’s that simple.

Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight published an interesting, in-depth piece about how Fandango, the overwhelming leader in online movie ticket sales, is manipulating user reviews to cast movies in a more favorable light.

Usually, when a reputable online review site rounds the average rating to display a star-based rating, they will round to the nearest half star. For example, when my book received a 3 star review earlier this year on Amazon, it dropped my review average to 4.7. This meant that the book was listed as 4.5 stars, because they rounded down, to the nearest half star. Later, after I received a couple of 5 star reviews, my average went up to 4.8, and the book was 5 stars.

This is the behavior that we generally expect, as consumers. It’s not what Fandango is doing.

Read More

It feels like I’ve been talking to companies about career opportunities all year. There have been at least four distinct interviews and several loose conversations. While I may have collected a funny story or two, I haven’t found the right match.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed, during this process, is talking about what a progressive community role looks like. What can community mean, responsibility wise, beyond the traditional idea of what community is? Because, while companies do try to shove any number of unrelated tasks under the community banner, there are some areas of responsibility where it can make perfect sense to combine the tasks under the community role and, as those tasks grow, a larger community department.

If you are looking to expand the role of community in your organization, here are four specific areas to think about.

Read More

There are a lot of companies that make great tools. If your tool is great, your marketing is slick and your call-to-action is amazing, you’ll convince people to sign up. Once you have them, how do you keep them?

The funny thing is that, if your tool sounds amazing and your marketing is convincing, you may have your customers expecting a miracle: a tool that requires no effort whatsoever on their part. When that doesn’t happen, they won’t blame themselves. They’ll blame you. You let them down.

The big challenge isn’t getting them to sign up, it’s ensuring they use the tool correctly, improving their odds of success. For many companies, the answer to this problem is to hire account managers.

Read More

How to Build Strong Volunteer Moderator Teams

Posted by Patrick on October 8th, 2015 in Managing Staff

I have always prided myself on identifying community leaders and building strong teams of volunteer moderators. I have been very fortunate to have many amazing, wonderful people join the communities that I manage and become a part of my teams.

Recently, I was thinking about my team building philosophies, and I identified a set of principles that I adhere to, that have served me well. I’d like to share these principles with you.

While some of this depends on scale, most will apply very well to 99% of online communities – and the remainder can probably be altered to apply to the rest. For instance, if your volunteer program is so large that one person can’t handle it, that might be a clue that your organization needs to commit to community in a more meaningful way… and pay more than one person.

Read More

People Move On

Posted by Patrick on October 5th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

The Long GoodbyeCarrie Jones writes about the idea of celebrating the “right kind of churn.” She draws on an example from Alex Hillman’s Coworking Weekly podcast, where Hillman explained that when a company leaves his coworking space to move into their own office, they celebrate the occasion.

They celebrate that the company has reached a level of growth where they require a bigger space to continue that growth. They might be losing a tenant, but they recognize the success of an alumni.

I believe in this. Your community members are a lot like the cast of Saturday Night Live. I’ve never sought to dominate the lives of the people who join the communities that I manage. You don’t collect humans. We’re all alive for a relatively short period of time. During that brief moment, we gravitate in and out of many different groups and communities, based upon where we are in life.

Read More