Earlier today, the new music video for “Play Your Part” by Wale featuring Rick Ross, Meek Mill and D.A. Wallach of Chester French premiered on MTV.com. I really like this record and like the music video just as much – you can pick up a free download of the mixtape that the song is from at Ross’ website.

At last year’s Blog World Expo, I developed a panel featuring D.A. alongside rapper Asher Roth, my friend Wayne Sutton and myself. D.A. is a really cool guy – very nice, talented and smart – who has a great understanding of building community.

Anyway, in the new video, which I have embedded below, D.A. sings, “you think you’re using me, like this game’s new to me, but you ain’t confusing me … we’ll be cool as long as you just play your part.” So, today, I want to talk about how important it is that all members of your community play their respective parts.


If you’re reading this post, there is a good chance that you are the administrator of your community, or one of them. I firmly believe that the success of any community is directly related to what the person responsible for that community – the administrator – does. Software, technology, content, marketing, branding, value, whatever… all play a role, but they all fall back on the administrator and the actions that you take.

Administrators are generally best served as active participants within the community. Otherwise, you are viewed as some robot behind the scenes, hiding in a dark office, who isn’t connected with the people. You need to be seen and, most importantly, you need to be an example. You have to show people the exemplary way to act. Your words have actions and how you act, members will be more likely to act.

You need to be able to take abuse, listen, communicate clearly, be a source of encouragement and support, help people when they have trouble on your site, be able to make decisions and be able to lead a team of people, likely your moderators, who will help you to maintain the community. Being an administrator is being a leader – and it’s a part that’s not for everybody.


Moderators play a vital part on my communities. Having good moderators will help ensure that the community is more consistently taken care of when it comes to inappropriate content and violations of your guidelines. Like an administrator, moderators must be exemplary members – they must set the example for members to follow. How a moderator participates is how a member will be more likely to participate.

A great moderator is someone who knows the community, who understands when to exercise discretion when dealing with posted content and who can reliably recognize a violation of your guidelines versus a harmless piece of content. They can handle the inappropriate content and contact the members who are responsible.

They must be team players – they must be able to listen, follow direction and help execute on your vision. However, they must also be able to point out issues and offer feedback. They know the community, in it’s current state, as well as anyone else. This knowledge is invaluable.

Only a small percentage of people within your community will be able to play this part – but when you find the ones that do, you’ll love them for it.

Veteran Member

Veteran members have a responsibility in your community, whether or not they realize it. New members look up to veteran members and do what they do. On my communities, it is very important to me that our veterans take this seriously and understand their role within the community.

A member who has been around your community long enough to be considered a veteran should know your guidelines and obvious violations to them should be far and few between. In some ways, you may give your veterans more leeway than a new member – but, in other ways, you should expect and demand more of them because they have been around the block and you have enough respect for them to expect that they take their part seriously.

It’s not that hard because what allowed them to be a veteran member on the community, most likely, is being the helpful, funny and/or smart person that they already are. So, really, what they need to do is what they have always done – with a little bit of personal growth mixed in.

Active Member

An active member, who is not yet a veteran, is someone who is posting actively on your community. They are joining into discussions regularly and posting content. That is the part that an active member plays.

More than anything else, an active member needs to make sure that their posts count for something and that they aren’t just posting to post or to add short content and boost their post count. Yes, there is room and there should probably be dedicated sections for off topic musings and general fun and networking. But, in other areas where people are asking specific questions, for example, it is those questions that need to be answered.

Some of this is simply knowing and respecting the guidelines, which is an important thing for all active members to do.

Semi-Active Members

Some members won’t be that active. They’ll post a few times a week or month. That’s totally fine. Everyone should contribute at a rate that they are comfortable with. Otherwise people get burned out and you don’t want that.

They play a similar role to an active member. They may be deeper thinkers, they may have specific needs, they may be the ones who write longer posts. I have seen it all. Most often, I find that the semi-active members are more likely to contribute to the on topic areas of your community, as opposed to joining in on general discussions about music or movies, for example.

Inactive Members (or Lurkers)

The majority of people who visit your community will rarely post, if at all. This is totally healthy. They need information or want to read it and they have found it at your community. They may not post, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it.

If your community generates revenue in any way, these visitors are important because the quality of the ads that you can receive and the money that those ads will generate is, in many ways, tied to traffic. All visitors generate pageviews, but some visitors are simply more likely to click or give attention to those ads. It is often suggested that visitors that come from search engines are more likely to click ads than the people who visit your site everyday. It all depends.

But, as you can see, even inactive members have a part to play, in supporting the overall ecosystem of the community.

Banned Members

Primarily, their role is to refer to you as Hitler. I’m kidding.

Play Your Part

As you can see, there are multiple layers of membership within your community and even this list is just a basic one. I’m sure that you can think of more and may even have more on the community that you manage. All of them have a role to play and, for the sake of the community, it’s important that they do so. We’ll be cool as long as you just play your part.