I will be doing a book reading in March at South by Southwest Interactive. Instead of a “reading”, it will actually be a presentation around an idea or series of ideas that I discuss in the book, most likely backed by slides of some sort. It’s the first time that I’ve done something of this nature. But, I am looking forward to it.

What should I do the presentation on? That’s the stage I’m at now. I’d like your feedback. I’ve given it some thought and have come up with half a dozen ideas. Please give them a look and let me know what your favorites are or what your favorite is. If you like none of them or have a better idea, feel free to look at the table of contents and suggest something entirely different. Keep in mind one key limitation: I have only 20 minutes of stage time. So, I want a presentation that I can fit into 15 minutes, in case it goes long or so that I can take a couple questions.

Here are the ideas I’ve come up with:

Are You Ready to Manage Online Forums?
This discussion would cover the fundamental things to consider before you decide to start a community. What do you want the forums to cover, who do you want to attract, are you ready for the time commitment, can you support the community financially, etc.

Training Forum Moderators
I would focus on the training of community staff members through staff member guidelines, a violation documentation system that they can learn from and by  encouraging staff members to ask questions.

Developing User Guidelines for Forums
Talking, in a general sense, of the creation of community guidelines. The time limit prevents me from covering all of the things that can be covered in guidelines, so I’ll need to, as I said, speak generally, as far as the guidelines influence over the community and what they can do.

The Process of Community Forum Moderation
I will discuss the process of content moderation that I use on my forums. Basically, it goes in four general steps: recognition of the violation, removal of the violation, documentation of the violation and the action taken and notification of the member, if needed.

When Community Staff Members Leave
Covering the four most common scenarios that staff members leave under and how you should handle them. They are: inactivity, resignation in good standing, resignation after disagreement and when the person turns into a lunatic.

Creating a Positive Environment on Your Forums
Discussion of some of some common ways to create a positive, friendly atmosphere on your forums. This would include requiring that members treat each other with respect, welcoming new users, staff member involvement, how you answer questions, how you can make members feel involved, how to deal with problems, not allowing political, religious or other controversial discussions (unless that’s what your community is about) and more.

So, what do you think? I appreciate any thoughts.