Popular Community ScubaBoard Sued for Libel and How to Limit Libel Claims on Your Forums

Posted by Patrick on March 29th, 2010 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

Creative Commons License photo credit: kin0be

About a week ago, I found out that ScubaBoard, a highly popular and well established scuba diving community, had been sued for libel in Federal court. ScubaBoard is run by Pete Murray, an acquaintance of mine that I have known for at least a few years. Pete has been supportive of me and my endeavors, including his offering of advance praise for my book. So, for me, this is unfortunate news and I am supportive of Pete.

In order to properly cover this story here at, I decided to turn to my friend Jonathan Bailey for a guest post and a legally minded take on the issue. Jonathan runs CopyByte, a copyright consulting firm and authors Plagiarism Today, an incredibly useful site dealing with content theft, plagiarism and related subjects.

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Forums Are Everywhere and Here to Stay, So Skip the Tools Discussion and Focus on Your Objectives

Posted by Patrick on March 25th, 2010 in Developing Your Community, How Should I Participate?, Thinking
Creative Commons License photo credit: jcfrog

One question I get asked a lot goes something along the lines of “how will forums keep up with [something]?” or “forums are old hat, why would people use them over [something]?” or “why use forums when you can use [something]?” However will forums survive? Let’s talk about it.

This is Limited Thinking

Forums aren’t going anywhere. Let’s get that out of the way. My great grand kids may well look back at this post and laugh at their crazy great grandfather and his talk of vinyl records, er- I mean forums. But, for as far into the future as I can possibly see, I do not see a time where structured, text based online discussion communities will cease to exist. Unless the internet ceases to exist or, at least, changes very dramatically.

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Replying to a Banned Member Who Wants to be Unbanned

Posted by Patrick on March 18th, 2010 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community
I owe you a love song
Creative Commons License photo credit: asubtleglance

This is part 3, the final part, in my Alex inspired series on temporary bans, lifting them early and related topics. I’m going to close it out by talking about how to respond to members who want to be unbanned.

Keeping in mind that I only issue permanent bans, the messages that I get from banned members, I’d throw into two categories: those I will respond to – and those I won’t. Once I ban someone, they are no longer an active member of my community. On the contrary, they have forced us to designate them as someone who has done harm to the community. For that reason, I am no longer as available to them as I might be to a regular member.

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How Have You Tried to Make Money From Your Online Community? I Still Want to Know!

Posted by Patrick on March 15th, 2010 in Generating Revenue
Stacked Coins
Creative Commons License photo credit: f_trudeau

Back in January, I asked you how you made money with your online community. This was for an upcoming series of articles on all of the different ways to monetize an online community.

I’m happy to say that this series is coming along beautifully. I’ve talked to a number of different people, including those behind the scenes at some very large communities, and they have been kind enough to share all of their methods with me.

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When Should I Lift a Temporary Ban Early?

Posted by Patrick on March 11th, 2010 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

When I called out to you for topics to write about, Alex asked me to touch on “the liberation of banned users before the appointed time.” If they have an appointed time, it has to be a temporary ban. I’m not a huge fan of those, but I already got that out of my system.

First and foremost, thank you for asking, Alex. I would suggest that you are using temporary bans for a reason: you want to be able to ban people for a fixed period without banning them forever. So, the ban was given for a reason, but will expire. In order to ensure that the temporary bans have meaning, you probably want to allow most of them to last for the expected period.

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Why I’ve Never Liked Temporary Bans

Posted by Patrick on March 7th, 2010 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

I’m just not a temporary ban kind of guy. I was reminded of this while pondering the question asked by Alex (which I will be answering soon!). I’ve never utilized them, never wanted to and likely never will, unless I start running a community for someone else or something like that.

I understand the reasoning. It’s a “cooling off period” is one of the bigger ones. I’m sure they’re effective for those that use them and like them. There’s nothing wrong with them. This isn’t a right or wrong issue; just a preference.

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What Would You Like Me to Write About?

Posted by Patrick on March 4th, 2010 in

I was just pondering what I wanted to write about today and I thought it’d be a good idea to ask you: what would you like me to write about? What would you like my thoughts on? What can I help with? I want to know.

Please let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading and for considering this question.