New Reviews, Interviews and Mentions

Posted by Patrick on June 27th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book), Press

I just thought that I would give a book coverage update, since it’s been a few weeks since I did my last one. I had interviews with Jeff Chandler on Performancing (part 1 and part 2) as well as the WordPress Weekly podcast. The WordPress Weekly interview garnered a mention by Lorelle VanFossen on the Blog Herald. I’m going to be coming back onto the podcast soon to talk more about the book.

Lefora, a free forum host, reviewed the book and interviewed me. I was interviewed by Tom Perkins on Fitness Business Radio. Midwest Book ReviewAndy Staple and Ray Angel have reviews of the book, as well.

An excerpt of the book was adapted into a feature in the American Management Association’s Moving Ahead newsletter, which was highlighted by Jack Vinson.

There was a cool discussion of the book over at vBulletin Setup, a vBulletin support community. vBulletin Setup is planning a review of the book in the future, as well.

Martin Reed of Community Spark gave the book a quick mention in a post about the value of community features. Martin will be reviewing the book in the future, hopefully, and an interview is coming, as well. James Seligman mentioned that he’d be reviewing the book and interviewing me soon.

Finally, Twing, a community search engine, gave away 100 copies of the book at the recent Online Community Unconference 2008.

Thank you to everyone for the continued interest and support!

When Considering a New Staff Member, Look for the Reason Not to Promote

Posted by Patrick on June 22nd, 2008 in Managing Staff

The staff promotion process on goes a little like this:

I start a thread and ask for nominations and feedback. I try not to get too involved in this for at least a few days, with the exception of answering questions and responding to suggestions that absolutely will not be happening. I want to allow my staff members to post their thoughts without me interfering. After this period, I will throw some names out myself if I have some I am considering that have not already been mentioned.

I then encourage my staff members to provide their thoughts on each person – good or bad. I just want them to be honest and I stress this. My staff members know to allow each other to their opinion. My staff members know never to critique one another and know that they can always contact me if they have any issues, because that is the culture I’ve created.

They also know that if they do critique one another, they will be hearing from me. Anyone who harshly criticizes the dissenting opinion or says anything to them that could in any way be construed as nasty, would be harshly dealt with. The reason being that that sort of thing hurts the process and scares people from talking and from being honest. I don’t think it’s ever happened. Or, at least, not in a very long time.

My staff members all tend to be very friendly with one another. I’ve created a friendly, helpful, respectful culture through my own actions, through our staff guidelines which are followed to a T (and I make sure of it) and through the people that I bring on board, which match the culture. It’s all about maintaining that great environment.

When you have created such a culture that is cohesive like this, if any individual member of staff – even 1 – expresses serious doubts about a person, it is worth consideration and it is worth allowing it to impact the decision. Meaning, if someone is suggested, and 9 people say good things or have no thoughts, but 1 person raises what appear to be serious and viable objections, I most likely will not bring that person on board.

Concerns are what is most important here. The intention of these threads is not to be a yes-a-thon. By this point, you have some people in mind that you are seriously considering – you aren’t so much looking for validation as you are running them through a background check to ensure they come up clean. You are looking for a reason not to bring them on board. You are ensuring that they are right for you and your staff.

It’s so important to create an environment where staff members can feel free to say that someone has this issue or that issue. This is why I make these threads sort of open ended. When I ask for nominations, I simply ask my staff to put people out there if they feel there is anyone worthy. There is no mimimum and no maximum. I never work to staff-to-member ratios and I never operate under the thought that “we have too many” or “we don’t have enough”. We want good people. Period. If they are there, we will invite them. If they are not, we will live.

So, these staff threads are open ended. People can participate if they want or not participate if they have nothing to add. I don’t ask my staff yes or no questions – I don’t ask them to decide whether or not so and so should join the staff because it’s not about that. I don’t believe your staff should decide who gets promoted (at least, not to their level). They should be able to suggest, they should have input, but as far as making the decision independent of anyone else… I don’t think that’s necessary. It’s not something to vote on, it’s not a popularity contest and majority does not rule. It’s all about finding concerns or potential problems.

Anyway, after I listen to the thoughts of all staff members that wish to participate, I make the final decisions and send out invitations. And we have a new staff members.

But, the point of this post is that, when you are looking at new staff members, you are looking for, as much as anything else, a reason not to bring them on. Staff feedback is really important at this stage. You want them to be honest and to share concerns with you. You want to promote the right people and the way to do that is to pass them through your staff and give any concerns they bring up the appropriate attention.

Don’t flippantly dismiss their concerns. This is a topic for another day, but have high standards, look for the best people in all aspects. Don’t excuse people for rude/harsh/blunt behavior just because they have knowledge. Staff members are the example to aspire to for your members and should have that level of quality in all facets and that includes their personality. You do not want to promote people with bad personality traits thinking they can improve or we can change them. You already want them to be on point. They already need to be a great example for members to follow, or they shouldn’t be considered.

Programmers and Designers: New Competition at With Great Prizes

Posted by Patrick on June 18th, 2008 in Off Topic

As I think some programmers and designers read this blog, I wanted to mention that we just launched a great competition tonight at We call it phpBB 3 Hacks Idol and phpBB 3 Styles Idol.

Basically, all new phpBB 3 hacks and styles from this point through the deadline on July 4, will be pitted one on one against one another until we have two winners – one hacks winner and one styles winner. What’s in it for them, you ask? Their choice of an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Asus Eee, Archos 605, iPod Touch or Amazon Kindle and a ton of other great prizes, provided by sponsors such as Chitika, W3 Markup and SitePoint.

So, if you can write a phpBB hack or create a phpBB style – please check it out!

Introductions Forum = Not a Place to Introduce Your Company, Just Yourself

Many, many communities have an introductions forum, to allow new members to introduce themselves to the community. Generally speaking, they can talk about their personal background – where they’re from, what they’re interests are, what they are doing at the site and so on. I would say that most communities are even fine with them mentioning what they do for a living and linking to that site.

But, where a certain line can be crossed is when an introduction of a person becomes an introduction of a company or organization or a recruiting letter. That’s where it can get a little bit tasteless and can lead to violations of the community’s guidelines. When you are using an introductions forum, you want to always remember that you are introducing you, the person – not whoever you work for or whatever you do for a living. (There may be some exceptions, but if you’re new to a community, it’s always a good idea to check with the staff if you want to do something like that).

Here’s an example of a good, normal introduction I might make on a sports forum:


My name is Patrick O’Keefe. I’m 23 and I live in Harbinger, NC. I own the iFroggy Network ( and I have a personal blog at

I’m a big sports fan. Specifically, I’m a big fan of the New York Yankees and Miami Dolphins since birth. I listen to a lot of music (big Diddy/Bad Boy Entertainment fan). For TV, I watch The Simpsons, Family Guy, Prison Break, 24 and House. Into gaming, as well, when I have time.

Any questions, feel free. :)



To be honest, someone doesn’t need to be that detailed to be OK with me. They can still mention their sites, like I did, but introducing yourself, however trivial it may seem, helps.

And now, here’s an example of what not to do:


My name is Patrick and I run ( It’s a great sports community and we’re always looking for new people. We’d love to have you over there. So, please check it out! Also, we’re looking for moderators, so if you are interested in that, just PM me over at the site. My username is NoBrain.



Would you like to take my first born, as well, while you’re at it?

Whether you are an individual or a corporation, if you are looking to tastefully integrate yourself into a community and derive real value from participation, it has to be about a person, an individual, a personality, a character – not a website, organization or company.

Add and “Managing Online Forums” on MySpace, Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter!

Posted by Patrick on June 10th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book),

Do you use MySpace, Facebook, StumbleUpon and/or Twitter? If you do, please add/stumble/follow or the book! :) You can do so via the links below:


“Managing Online Forums”:


Thank you for reading. I appreciate your support.

Research Report: “Online Community Revenue and ROI Techniques”

Posted by Patrick on June 10th, 2008 in Generating Revenue

Forum One has released a report titled “Online Community Revenue and ROI Techniques”. The title is pretty descriptive – it talks about revenue generation on online communities and the best ways to approach it, according to the 51 people who participated in the survey. I’ve scanned over it and it makes for some interesting reading.

It’s available for a limited time, so even if you think you probably don’t want to generate revenue for your community, there’s no reason not to go ahead and grab it, download it and stow it for when it may be useful to you.

“Managing Online Forums” in the Wild

Posted by Patrick on June 7th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book)

Since the book was released, I’ve had a number of people taking pictures of the book on shelves at Barnes & Noble stores and sending them to me so that I could include them in a blog post. I took a couple myself, as well. In all, I have pictures from 11 different locations in 10 different states. One of the coolest things about releasing the book has been seeing it on shelves. So, a big thanks to everyone who took pictures and sent them in. Here they are:

Barnes & Noble (Greenville), Greenville, NC
(taken by me)


Read More

New Interviews, Reviews and More

Posted by Patrick on June 5th, 2008 in Managing Online Forums (Book), Press

I was interviewed by Jake McKee of Community Guy and Andrea Hermitt from’s Homeschool Blog (her article also includes a review of the book). Izzy Neis gave the former a nice mention on her blog.

On the reviews front, David Berkowitz of Inside the Marketers Studio, Jonathan Bailey of PlagiarismToday, Jason Bean of Uncover the Internet, Ramona Iftode of, Miranda Marquit of IdeaScope and Jeff Henrichsen of JKT Network all have reviews of the book. mentioned the book as part of three books that could help you increase the value of your domain names.

Finally, Wendy Piersall of Sparkplug CEO recommended the book in her “10 More Work at Home Internet Business Ideas You Can Do in Your Fuzzy Bunny Slippers” article. For each idea she mentioned, she recommended a book. “Managing Online Forums” was recommended under the “Niche Forums” idea.

Thanks to everyone for the interest and consideration!