Your Online Community Can Have a Respectful Discussion About Miley Cyrus

Posted by Patrick on August 29th, 2013 in Managing Staff

You’ve probably heard about Miley Cyrus performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. No need to rehash it.

I find that things like this bring out the worst in people. People, who otherwise will act normal, take to the internet and say things that they’d never say to Cyrus’ face or to a complete stranger. They are outraged and offended by something that doesn’t really impact them in any way. But the internet gives them a voice and so they use it.

My Facebook stream was full of it, as yours probably was, too (if you use Facebook). I had things to do and don’t really have any opinion on Miley Cyrus. If she posts on Twitter that online forums are dead, maybe I’ll need to weigh in. Otherwise? I’d much rather tell you that I thought Drake’s performance was great and get back to work.

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My 17 Year Old Self Printed Out This Forum Thread

Posted by Patrick on August 26th, 2013 in Thinking

Back in 2002, I wrote an article for SitePoint about buying a good domain name. In the article, I advocated for buying domain names without hyphens (so instead of, if at all possible. I said that it would work with search engines and it would also work with people who were spreading your site through word of mouth. It was easier to remember and easier to say.

I didn’t have the track record and deep experience that I have now. In other words, even though I had more experience than most (a few years) and good instincts, I was 17 years old at the time and not as self-confident as I am now.

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You Can Remove Content From Your Community While You Decide if It is OK

Posted by Patrick on August 22nd, 2013 in Managing the Community
CERDEC Math and Science Summer Camp, 2013
Creative Commons License photo credit: CERDEC

Sometimes there are things posted on my community that I am not sure about. Usually I can give a definitive answer easily, but once in a while, it isn’t as clear and I want to ask for feedback from my staff.

In these cases, the temptation is to say that if you can’t decide it’s inappropriate, then it stays. That is reasonable and I do that most of the time. But if you feel like it may not be OK and the resulting thread could easily lead to guideline violations, I wouldn’t feel bad about removing a discussion while I made the decision.

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Write a Book, Give it Away and Get Paid #NewRules (My SXSW Interactive 2014 Proposal)

Posted by Patrick on August 19th, 2013 in

Vote for My Session Idea for SXSW Interactive 2014South by Southwest (SXSW) has opened the PanelPicker for the 2014 edition of their conference. It is one part of the selection process through which they decide the content for the event.

I have been fortunate enough to speak five times at SXSW Interactive, the emerging technology and digital focused portion of the conference. In 2014, I’ll be bringing my brother down to the event for the first time. He’s pursuing a career in the film industry, so he’s really excited to attend SXSW Film, which occurs during Interactive.

I’d love to have the opportunity to speak again this year and, to that end, I wanted to ask if you would consider voting for it. The public voting portion of the event, which runs from today through September 6, accounts for 30% of the decision process – 30% also goes to the SXSW staff, with 40% to an advisory board.

You can vote on their website, but let me tell you a little about it.

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Should You Write an Article About What a Community Manager Does?

Posted by Patrick on August 15th, 2013 in How Should I Participate?, Thinking

I was talking to Jennifer Sable Lopez, Director of Community at Moz, yesterday and I was reminded of a trend of articles that I’ve noticed, about community management. Essentially, they could all be titled:

I’m a Marketer, Who Has Never Worked as a Community Manager: Here is What a Community Manager Is and Does

Because that’s what they are. I’ll see an article talking about what a community manager is and what they should do and I’ll read it and will feel like most of it is poor advice or an inaccurate representation of the role. Then I’ll look at who wrote it and I’ll pull up their LinkedIn profile and, sure enough, they’ve almost never worked in community and they are usually a marketer of some kind. In motivation, if not in job title.

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How Did You Get This Awesome Job? Work

Posted by Patrick on August 12th, 2013 in Off Topic

FreezerburnsGregory Ng is an acquaintance of mine. He’s the Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer (which is kind of amazing) at Brooks Bell, a firm focused on A/B split testing, targeting and optimization. That’s his job. He’s also married with three kids. But online he’s known as The Frozen Food Master, the host of Freezerburns, a web show dedicated to the frozen food aisle.

If you want to look at what a web show is, Greg is a great example to look to. If you want to start a show, you should look at what he does and how he does it. I know I did, when I decided to start Soda Tasting.

I was watching his most recent episode (embedded below) and I saw a comment made by BBridget511. “How did you get this awesome job?” BBridget511 is referring to the web show he hosts. As I explained, it isn’t his job, but it is a cool thing he does.

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Don’t Mess With Forum Owners

Posted by Patrick on August 8th, 2013 in How Should I Participate?
Angry Birds
Creative Commons License photo credit: VikramDeep

You don’t want to mess around with forum owners. And when I say mess around, I mean that you don’t want to anger them by doing something disrespectful or by trying to take advantage of their community.

If there is one thing that forum owners and managers don’t like, it is when someone tries to spam their community. Or scrape the community content. Or otherwise try to abuse their members or what they’ve built. You should assume spam is you referencing a work or organization that you are associated with.

If it is not abundantly clear that it is OK for you to do something, then you should never do so without asking a staff member. And yet, so many do. But that isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that people who want to be taken seriously do it. That’s the crazy part. I find that most people who do it fall into three categories:

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Updating My Article on Suicide Threats for the Discretion of the Community Manager

Posted by Patrick on August 5th, 2013 in Managing the Community

Almost 4 years ago (wow, it definitely doesn’t seem that long ago), I wrote a long article discussing suicide threats and how to handle them when they are posted on your online community. I’m proud of that article and of how it has helped people.

Due to a recent experience (which I don’t feel comfortable sharing now), I’ve decided to make an update to the piece. The update has to do with the handling of a publicly posted threat. In the article, originally, I suggested that you remove it. I believe that to be good, sound advice – generally speaking. If you believe that your members may cause more harm than good, or if you are really undecided, then there is a good chance that it is in the best interests of everyone to remove it.

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Director of Community and Director of Marketing Should Make a Great Team

Posted by Patrick on August 1st, 2013 in Thinking
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tim Dobson

When I think of “social media,” I think of two things, primarily: community and marketing. Yes, it can and does touch other areas. But, for the most part, when it comes to who “owns” it (who takes responsibility for it), it should be community and marketing.

This is why it makes sense that a Director of Community and a Director of Marketing both share authority over social. The two roles can complement each other well. Ideally, I like to see community operate equally (from an organization standpoint) to marketing, not underneath it. It may not seem like much, but it’s all about setting the tone. While community benefits marketing, it does not serve marketing. When it is done best, anyway.

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