South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive 2009 Book Reading and Signing: What Should I Talk About?

Posted by Patrick on January 29th, 2009 in Managing Online Forums (Book),

Good news! For the second consecutive year, I will be giving a book reading at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas. The reading will be followed by a signing at the conference’s bookstore. Better news: you don’t have to listen to me read the book. (Thank goodness). They allow us to give a presentation around the book’s theme and that is what I will be doing, just as I did last year, when I spoke about “Creating a Positive Environment on Your Forums” (video).

The conference itself runs from March 13 through 17 and my presentation will be on March 14 at 12:30 PM. It’ll be on the Day Stage on the top floor of the Austin Convention Center. If you can come, please do! I’d love to meet you. Please RSVP on Facebook, if you can.

We’re about six weeks or so away, so I want to start thinking about what I will be talking about. That’s where you come in! I would love your feedback on what you’d like me to talk about. I have a pair of ideas myself, but I could go in a totally different direction, as well. Please keep in mind that I have 20 minutes, no more, and that I would like to fit in a little time for Q&A, if I could, in that 20 minute span. Though, I can always answer questions when I am off stage and that might be for the best. Anyway, here are the options.

1. “The Art of Responding to Feedback From Your Community”

This talk would be based on a post I wrote recently, that I felt was really well received. Basically, it’s a simple, 3 step system to handling feedback from members. I could go through the 3 steps, in brief and (maybe?) show some example messages in my slides.

2. “Taking Your Community Back From the Trolls”

There seems to be this prevailing notion with some people that eventually, all communities will be infested with trolling. And that you have to allow people to say some nasty things because you can’t hold your members to high standards. Because, if you do, you’ll scare them off, lose your traffic, lose your ad revenue and be unable to justify your community to the boss.

I don’t believe this is true. I believe that community administrators and managers can take a stand, can have a vision for their community, one that is free of trolls and can shut those people down through solid guidelines, consistent enforcement and a willingness to ban.

3. “Your Idea”

I’d love to hear your idea, too. What would you like me to talk about? Maybe you read the book and a specific part resonated, a part you would like to see me talk about in person. Or, maybe you just have a random thought. Whatever it is, please detail it in the comments and I promise to consider it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and offer me your feedback. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you at the conference. is One Year Old!

Posted by Patrick on January 27th, 2009 in

One year ago today, I launched It had been a site that I had wanted to launch for some time, as community management is a subject that I am passionate about and I had a lot to talk about and a lot of experiences that I wanted to share.

In light of this moment, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported during this initial year. Everyone who has visited, read, linked, commented, offered some feedback or helped in some other way. I really appreciate it. I look forward to what lay ahead in 2009.

But, again, thank you.


The Art of Responding to Feedback in 3 Simple Steps: Appreciate, Acknowledge and Consider

Posted by Patrick on January 24th, 2009 in Interacting with Members

Some feedback is easy to take. Someone makes an awesome suggestion that makes a ton of sense or simply loves what you are doing and wants to tell you so. Some feedback isn’t as easy – someone doesn’t like something you’ve done and wants to let you know about it. As long as they aren’t overly disrespectful or crude, they deserve a reply, like anyone else. But, regardless of what it is, you can respond to feedback in three easy steps.

Step 1: Appreciate

First and foremost, appreciate it. Appreciate that they are offering their thoughts and that they took the time to do so. Express this clearly and in the simplest of terms. “Thank you for writing. I appreciate your feedback and your perspective.” Do you want people to provide you with feedback? Then act like it. Thank them for it.

Step 2: Acknowledge

Take the time to read what they say and consider their position and where they are coming from. Once you understand what they are suggesting, say so. “I understand what you are saying.” “I can see what you mean.” Emphasize with them, honestly. If you do not understand what they mean, ask them questions to find out more, so that you can get the compete picture.

Step 3: Consider

Finally, since you have expressed your appreciation and acknowledged and understood what they said, consider their suggestion or feedback. See the value in what they are saying. Consider how it would impact the community and how feasible it is. Don’t feel inclined to do it if you do not feel that it is the right thing to do or that it would require an effort that you cannot commit, at this time. There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with being honest with yourself and the limitations of your time.

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10 Moderator Moves That Turn My Stomach

Posted by Patrick on January 17th, 2009 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff

We all have an idea of what we would like our moderators to do and how we want them to act. In deciding these things, we are also able to figure out how we don’t want them to act. Sometimes, we realize this by seeing other moderators behaving badly. With this in mind, here are 10 moderator behaviors that I would never want to see from my moderators.

1. Condescending Thread Locking

I think you should avoiding locking topics in general. If a post is bad, it’s removed. Not closed. You don’t close threads and leave problem posts in public as that sends the wrong message. But, there is a time and place for locking threads. And when that is done, it should be done gracefully.

Locking topics shouldn’t be an act of provocation. It’s not a statement as to your dominance of  the forum. That should be conveyed. Posting something like “Locked.” just sends a totally wrong message. It’s unprofessional, condescending and crass.

2. Moderation Individuality

Individuality in people is a great thing. We’re all different and those differences are what makes life either difficult or awesome. If we were all the same, it’d be boring.

Moderation individuality is when a moderator decides that policies that have been set for moderators can be circumvented and that the moderator is free to make decisions against them and do what they want. It could be deciding not to document something, deciding something isn’t a violation when it clearly is, or something else. Whatever it is, it causes a lack of consistency in decisions, leading to confusion from members and staff alike. If done knowingly, it’s insubordination.

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Los Angeles Tweetup/Web Meetup on January 14

Posted by Patrick on January 9th, 2009 in, Off Topic, Press

When I found out that I would be coming to the Los Angeles area for a short time, I wanted to try to meet up with some people in the area. So, I was talking to my friend Ricardo Bueno who lives in the city and we were going back and forth about it and… long story short, he agreed to plan a Tweetup (basically, a meet up of Twitter users). But, it’s not just for Twitter users – it’s for anyone who works online, is interested in social media, etc. Of course, I’ll be coming, along with 3 copies of “Managing Online Forums” to giveaway.

It’ll be on January 14, from 6 PM to 9 PM local time, at BJ’s Brewhouse and Restaurant in Glendale. We are going to have dinner, but if you just want to have drinks or stop by for a short time – that’s perfectly fine. And if you don’t drink, don’t worry – neither do I! :)

If you live in the Los Angeles area or, at least, are in town on that day, I’d love to meet you. Please RSVP on Facebook and/or Upcoming. We already have a number of people set to come, but the more – the merrier! A big thanks to Ricardo for doing the ground work on this.

New Book Coverage: Interviews, Reviews, Conference Mentions and More!

Posted by Patrick on January 5th, 2009 in Managing Online Forums (Book), Press

It’s been a few months since I posted a book related press recap, so I wanted to highlight all of the great mentions that the book has received in that time.

There were new reviews from Martin Reed of Community Spark, Des Walsh, Jessica Smith of Jessica Knows, Kare Anderson of Moving From Me to (also posted on Gaia), Martin Kloos of and Rob Diana of Regular Geek. Mrs. Smith was kind enough to include me in her 15 Days of Marketing series, as well.

I was interviewed by BloggerTalks and for Urban Lifestyle Report: New Media’s October issue. I appeared for live video interviews on SuccessfoolTV and The Tech Buzz and participated in a live podcast interview on PerfCast, the podcast of Performancing. For The Tech Buzz interview, the show did a book giveaway, which was mentioned by Geek Talk Radio.

My friend Jason Falls invited me to speak via live stream at a Social Media Club Louisville meet up. This was mentioned in Business First of Louisville. Esther Schindler of CIO highlighted the book in her “6 Stupid Mistakes Companies Make with Their Online Communities” article. I wrote a guest post on the subject of “Blogging for Dollars” for The Graduate Student Survival Blog, part of the Albany Times-Union.

Kelby Carr highlighted the book when talking about my sessions at the Independent Blogging Conference at Greensboro, which she co-organized. On a related note, popular Twitterer Brian Carter, who I met while in Greensboro, mentioned the book in his stream.

Using the book has a basis, Lois Kelly of Bloghound wrote an article titled “10 ideas for Creating Community Guidelines.” Lois also highlighted the book at two conference sessions that she led. One, at the Extending Your Brand to Employees Conference on November 17 in Chicago, was called “The Power of Social Media: Putting It to Work for Your Employer Brand” session. The slides are posted online and the book is mentioned in number 57. The other was at the Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, also in Chicago, on November 16, during the “Online Communities that Thrive: Realizing the Possibilities; Burning Down the Obstacles” session.

Steve Magruder of WebCommons shared that he would be rewriting his own forum guidelines using ideas from the book.

As part of a book meme, where the person that you tag must tell you the book that is closest to you and tell you what it is, Mike Mueller had “Managing Online Forums” closest.

vBulletin Setup mentioned the book in reference to a recent contest where they gave away a copy. In the 19th edition of “Jeff Herman’s Guide To Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009: Who They Are! What They Want! How To Win Them Over!”, Mr. Herman mentioned the book in an AMACOM company profile.

As part of her “Internet Marketing Christmas” post, Lynn Terry of ClickNewz! receorded a video where she opened presents that she had received in the mail. She included a greeting card that I had sent her and was kind enough to mention the book, as I had included a business card for it, as well.

In a year end post, phpBB Weekly’s Douglas Bell highlighted the book centric interview episode we did as a runner up in his list of their best episodes of the year.

At the “Solutions Are Power” by Network Solutions blog, Steve Fisher mentioned the book in relation to my attendance at the Blog World & New Media Expo.

Finally, I provided advance praise for the book “Designing the Digital Experience: How To Use EXPERIENCE DESIGN Tools & Techniques to Build Websites Customers Love” and”Managing Online Forums” is mentioned alongside the praise.

A huge thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in the book. It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it! I’m looking forward to what lies ahead in 2009.

“Locked.” is No Way to Close a Thread/Topic

Posted by Patrick on January 2nd, 2009 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff

Locked topics have a purpose on most communities. I try to avoid them, except in specific circumstances, but they have a place and they are a tool in a moderator’s arsenal. What I want to discuss today isn’t the locking of topics in itself, but what one says when they lock a topic.

When you lock a topic, you should have a legitimate reason that you can politely convey, in a final reply to the thread. For example:

Hey guys,

We actually have another discussion on this very same subject that was recently active, so I am going to go ahead and close this one and redirect you over to that one.



Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t take the time to politely explain. Often times, these folks include a sentence like “Locked.” or “Lockey lockey.” in their post. This is ugly and lazy. Closing threads should be done with grace. Not with condescending and flippant remarks or statements that basically say “I’m a moderator, I can close this thread – I just did. Too bad.” The lock thread option isn’t a toy, it should be used for specific reasons and not as a flight of fancy.

If you run a community, make sure that you define when you want your moderators to use the close thread functionality and how they should do so.

Closing Question: Without citing specific names, websites or links, what is the worst example of moderator gone mad topic locking that you have ever seen?