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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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10 Reasons to Appreciate Your Community Manager

Posted by Patrick on January 27th, 2014 in Thinking

Today is the fifth annual Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD). Check out the festivities taking place today over at My Community Manager’s dedicated website. In honor of the day, I present to you 10 reasons that you should appreciate the manager of your online community.

If you participate in an online community that you enjoy, it might be cool to take a moment and write a note to the manager of that community, letting them know that you appreciate what they do.

Of course, there are many different reasons to appreciate a community manager and it varies by the community and the person. But as I reflected on my time managing communities, what my members have told me and my experience as a member of communities managed by other people, here are 10 that I think are worth noting.

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4x advent (cc)
Creative Commons License photo credit: marfis75

January 27 will mark 6 years since the launch of ManagingCommunities.com. This year, January 27 is Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD). It’s funny how that works out.

I decided that I would mark the 6th birthday of this website today, rather than on CMAD, so as to not take away from those festivities in any way. I plan to publish a CMAD relevant article on Monday since that is also the day I normally publish articles here. The stars are aligned!

6 years is not a period of time that I take lightly. I’ve grown a lot in that time, as a professional, and the community management space has grown a lot, as well. I am grateful for whatever opportunity I had to help that along and I am deeply appreciative of everyone who has supported my writing here and elsewhere.

Thank you to everyone who adds value in the comments, subscribes to this website, shares my work and finds value it in. It means a lot to me.

Patrick


Christopher WalkenYou watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? Look at this lion. He’s the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying down under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big, he’s so hot. He doesn’t want to move.

“Now the little lion cubs, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn’t do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still: nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. And they start to move in. The jackals; hyenas.

“They’re barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that’s in his domain. They do this, and they get closer and closer, and bolder and bolder. ‘Til one day, that lion gets up and tears the s*** out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. ‘Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals who he is.”

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When you hear the term “forensic evidence,” you think about police work and court cases. You think about DNA, blood and finger prints. You don’t think about online communities.

But our communities are home to a great deal of digital DNA and trace information. This evidence can be used to identify people who are trying to abuse or take advantage of our communities. Yet I don’t know of any software options that are making use of the data in this way.

There are certain key areas where this could be very helpful, where it could take a task best performed by machines and let a machine perform it.

I am sure that there are many ways this would be done, but I’ll give you one good example. Members who hold multiple accounts to push an agenda, agree with themselves or promote something. How could the software help, you might ask? Well, what if you received a notification in your admin area whenever any of these things happened:

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Restricted Area
Creative Commons License photo credit: lungstruck

It can be highly beneficial to have a tier of staff below your main moderators. It allows these members to become acclimated to various aspects of being a member of staff without being thrown into the fire as a moderator. For communities that do this, like mine, all moderators are first members of this lower tier, which I’ll refer to as as guides.

They participate in staff discussions, welcome new members, report posts that they feel may violate our guidelines and participate in random things that come up for the staff. Traditionally, they do not have any “power” as far as the community software is concerned.

I was thinking about this the other day and I had a thought: why not let this tier move threads around the public forums? Not remove them from the public forums, not take on the role of a moderator in removing violations, documenting them and contacting members. But just move threads from one public forum to another.

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Sometimes, when you are visiting your community, you will see a post that is really borderline. After consideration, you determine that this post is OK and does fit within your guidelines, even if it is just barely.

But your moderators don’t know that, unless you tell them. And because it is borderline, there is a fair chance that a moderator will remove it. If they do, you’ll have to correct it. How can you prevent this and inform them that the post is OK?

You could make a post in your documentation system, as a note tied to the member who made the post. But that might not be seen before the post itself. You could post in the general staff forum. But that has the same problem. You could send a private message or email to each staff member. That will probably work. But it is a little more unwieldy and time consuming, for everyone, than is necessary.

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SXSW 2014In March, I’ll travel to South by Southwest for the sixth time. From 2008 through 2012, I spoke at the event. 2 book readings, 1 Core Conversation, 1 panel and 1 solo presentation. It’s a great event and I enjoy it. After taking last year off, I’ll be back this year.

One of the big motivators for me going is my brother, Sean, a recent graduate who is pursuing a career in film. He’s excited to go to SXSW Film and I’m excited to spend time with him down there. I have a Gold badge for both Interactive and Film and I look forward to connecting with friends and acquaintances.

I’ll be in town from March 5 through 16 and if you’d like to meet up, I’d love to say hello, talk and look at what you are up to. I plan to attend some panels and take a look at what is on the schedule community wise.

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In my final article of 2013, I reviewed data from member reports of inappropriate posts on my community, outlining the most popular reasons that posts are reported. For my first article of 2014, I thought I’d take a look at how community software platforms can address these issues and make all of our lives a little easier.

Not all automation is good, but I’m a fan of automation that works well without having a negative impact on member experience. I am going to discuss solutions that I feel could fit into this mold, as well as other manual solutions that could be built into software.

Some ideas could be impacted by technical limitations, such as server resources, but I am going to approach this from an ideal perspective. I think about this sort of thing all the time and I wanted to share some ideas freely. Any software vendor reading this, please feel free to take them (though credit is always nice). I do think it would be fun to take a role at a vendor where my job would be to focus on features and functionality, especially on the manager end of the spectrum. Maybe I’ll do that some day.

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Over at KarateForums.com, we have a simple post reporting system. As a logged in member, you click a button on a post and you can include an explanation of why you feel the post may be inappropriate.

We encourage members to report a post whenever they suspect one may need attention from a staff member. We don’t want them to feel like they should only report a post if they feel 100% sure it is a violation. We want them to report anything that seems fishy and allow us to make the determination. There is no repercussion for filing a report that doesn’t lead to action.

As we’ve built up a substantial collection of report data over several years, I thought it would be interesting to see what words pop up in reports most frequently, as that is an indicator of the things they report the most and that data can be used to improve.

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