Level 98 Deion Sanders with +2 Awareness!Over the last month and a half, I have been playing a lot of Madden Mobile, the smartphone and tablet-friendly version of the football video game franchise. I describe it as Pok√©mon for football fans. You can’t beat my level 98 Deion Sanders with +2 Awareness!

The game allows you to join a league. Being a Miami Dolphins fan, I found a Dolphins fan league and joined up. I don’t know these people all that well, but over the last few weeks, I have been an active league member, playing in league tournaments, chatting with other league members and helping them where I can.

I’ve suggested we recruit new active members from a dedicated online community that exists for the game. I’ve also pitched the idea of launching a private Facebook group for league members, so we can better communicate. The league commissioner has encouraged both, and I’ll get to those tasks when I have a chance. I might even register a domain name for the Facebook group, just to make it easy for league members to find and join it.

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Your Community Has Holidays, Too

Posted by Patrick on November 26th, 2015 in Community Cultivation

Just like different countries and cultures have different holidays, so does your community. Or it can, at least.

It’s common for a country to celebrate the birth of their nation. The day that your community launched can be a holiday. As can the half-birthday, if you so choose.

If you have any sort of annual program, the start of that program is a type of holiday. For example, a yearly awards event where members nominate and vote for their favorites.

They don’t all have to be so serious or structured. Remember that day when Christopher Walken registered and posted on your forums? That shall now be known as Christopher Walken Day on your community.

There is a lot of room for creativity, but just like holidays bring people together throughout the world, they can do the same for your members. Create a list of the community holidays that you celebrate, and post it where everyone can see. And don’t forget to celebrate them!

The Community Roundtable has released their 2015 Community Careers and Compensation (CCC) report. This is the second year that they have done so, which is great because now we can compare one year to the next and see how we have progressed (or regressed, potentially). They are releasing the best compensation study for our industry, and should be applauded for it.

After having the opportunity to read the report, I wanted to share some of the data that caught my eye – and compare it to last year, where appropriate. There’s much more in the report than what I talk about below. It’s a free must-download for community professionals.

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When Gamification Gets in the Way

Posted by Patrick on November 12th, 2015 in Community Cultivation

My friend Michael Kimsal recently visited a company support forum, with a problem that he needed to fix. Instead of a solution, he received an email announcing that he had earned a “first post” badge on the community. He found this frustrating.

“I’ve got a *problem* that I need *solved*,” Michael wrote on Facebook. “Quit emailing me ‘hey, great, you earned a “first post” badge!’ Just fix my problem. Even thinking that someone spent a load of time coming up with gamification rules for this community, instead of just spending more money on making the service better in the first place…

“I do *NOT* plan to spend my time in a support forum – this is the last place on earth anyone should give a crap about ‘badges.'”

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Traditions can be a lot of fun and create some great memories for your online community members. They don’t have to come from you, necessarily – they don’t even have to be organized or spearheaded by you, though that will often be the case. Even if you just make sure they run smoothly and are well-supported.

What traditions do you have in your community, that you and your members look forward to? Let me know in the comments.

There are numerous traditions that we have at There are threads that are revived or restarted annually. There is a member of the month award, a yearly awards program, the celebration of various milestones and more. Earlier this year, I had an idea for a new tradition.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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