How to Defuse a Civil War on Your Online Community

Posted by Patrick on February 28th, 2013 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

I recently asked you for challenges that you are facing on your community that I could help with. TommyT came up with a good one.

His community is growing and there is an influx of “new regulars.” For the first time since the community launched, these newer members are larger in number than the members who helped get it off the ground. They knew Tommy prior to launching this community and have a strong rapport with him. Unfortunately, there is a growing culture clash between these two groups.

The older members engage in more lighthearted, tongue in cheek banter, including taking good natured jabs at one another. However, the newer members don’t seem to appreciate the humor of the more established members and sometimes will take offense at something that was said. They appreciate the strict policies that Tommy has put in place and want him to be stricter on jokes that they feel are disrespectful or inappropriate.

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Do You Want a “Sense of Community”? Fight For It

Posted by Patrick on February 25th, 2013 in Community Cultivation, Developing Your Community, Managing the Community

My friend Jared W. Smith recently sent me a link to and asked for my thoughts on an article on TechCrunch by Sarah Perez, “The Best Platform for Online Discussion Doesn’t Exist Yet.”

Ms. Perez laments the current state of online comments and discussion, saying that TechCrunch has been missing the “sense of community that blog comments once provided.” Hence their switch to Livefyre. “But there‚Äôs no system alive that can bring that [sense of community] back, because that era of the web is over. And it has been for a long, long time.”

Tired of short comments and noise, she wishes that more people would take the time to read an article and comment in long form. The proposed solution is some sort of system that tells you whose opinion’s carry more weight. Ms. Perez criticizes commenting systems for “competing on features” like crowdsourced anti-spam techniques because they don’t “really improve the nature of online discussion.”

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A Tale of Two Online Community Members

Posted by Patrick on February 21st, 2013 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

Recently, on an innocent thread on a community that I manage, two members got into it and exchanged comments that violated our User Guidelines as inflammatory.

Both made one post that violated our guidelines. Both posts were removed. Both members were contacted to make them aware of the violation, in an effort to limit the probability of it happening again.

That’s all pretty normal.

However, what was interesting is that each member reacted in a similar way. They didn’t like it. Which isn’t a big deal, but they turned that dislike into condescending remarks directed at a member of my staff.

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What Challenges Are You Facing on Your Online Community?

Posted by Patrick on February 18th, 2013 in
Creative Commons License photo credit: dno1967b

Is there a particular challenge that you are facing on an online community that you manage? If it is something I can write about, I’d love to try to help, if possible.

Though I am always open to ideas for topics to write about, I like to put out a call for ideas once in a while and I figured that I would give this particular call a theme: challenges that you are facing in your own community.

Please let me know in the comments or, if you’d prefer, via email. If you’d like to share, but don’t want to be identified in the post, please email me and let me know that you don’t want to be identified and I will respect that. I just want to hear about the challenges as it pushes me to write about issues I wouldn’t otherwise cover at this time.

Thank you for reading

You Don’t Have to Like My Online Community Staff, You Only Need to Treat Them with Respect

Posted by Patrick on February 14th, 2013 in Managing Staff, Managing the Community
Our Motto
Creative Commons License photo credit: Johnny Jet

I don’t allow anyone to treat my staff members in a disrespectful manner. I will accept slightly more abuse when it is directed at me, then I will when it is directed at my staff. This is part of building a tight knit, loyal team.

But I think it is worthwhile to separate what it means to treat people with respect, as opposed to liking someone, agreeing with them or actually respecting them.

Those three things, you have no control over and it is important to remember that. People decide whether to like, agree or respect someone on their own. You can influence that, but it is not your choice. What you can ensure is that members treat your staff in a respectful way, especially when they are on your community.

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U.S. Community Managers: Get to Know the Communications Decency and SPEECH Acts

Posted by Patrick on February 11th, 2013 in Managing the Community, Resources

The law of the land varies by the land. What might work in one country won’t work in another. Some countries are more strict, some less so. It is useful to know the laws that govern community management in your country.

That doesn’t mean you will necessarily know the law backwards and forwards (that’s why we have lawyers, because it can be so complex), but a basic understanding of the protections you are provided under the law can go a long way to ensuring confidence in the decisions that you make for your community. In this post, I’d like to highlight two particular acts that community managers based in the United States should know about.

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How Many Days a Week Does a Community Manager Need to Work?

Posted by Patrick on February 7th, 2013 in Managing the Community

FlexibilityRecently, on e-mint, Caspar Aremi shared an interesting BBC News story about whether or not people should be off on Fridays.

What was interesting about it is that the first person quoted in the story is Steven Shattuck, who is a community manager for Slingshot SEO, a company in the U.S. where employees work from 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Thursday.

9 AM to 5 PM is considered by many to be a typical work day (I don’t know about a typical work day in the field of community management, but generally speaking). In other words, 8 hours. But they extend the work day by 2 hours and eliminate one day of the week. However, 2 extra hours for 4 days of the week equals 8 hours. They are working the same number of hours, technically speaking, as someone who works a 9 to 5 for 5 days a week (they save some time in that they don’t have to get ready for work on Friday or commute).

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HMV Twitter Issue: Be Careful Who You Trust With Access to Your Community

Posted by Patrick on February 4th, 2013 in Managing Staff

HMVLast week, United Kingdom-based entertainment retailer HMV, currently in administration, announced a round of firings to staff. One of the people being fired was Poppy Rose Cleere, who has taken responsibility for a series of tweets sent from the brand’s Twitter profile as the firings were being announced. Check out stories by NME and the London Evening Standard if this is the first you’ve heard of it.

She posted a series of tweets that were either snarky or offered her personal criticisms of the company. In an ironic twist, one of the tweets criticized the company for allowing an intern to set up the Twitter account, an action which she called “unpaid, technically illegal.” According to her sister, though, Ms. Cleere offered to work for free for the company in order to stay on board, apparently unconcerned with the legal ramifications that might have.

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