You Can’t Blame the Community When It Won’t Change for You

Posted by Patrick on September 30th, 2013 in How Should I Participate?
Creative Commons License photo credit: elbragon

I have this member on, who has been with us since 2005. That year, he pushed against our guidelines so persistently and badly that I banned him. He didn’t like our guidelines, he didn’t like that we didn’t let him treat people in a certain way. After I banned him, he emailed me and asked me to give him another chance, pledging to do better.

I very rarely unban anyone. I don’t treat bans like a game, I don’t have temporary bans. We’re flexible, we’re reasonable, we try to work with you. When you have been banned, that means you’ve demonstrated a lack of caring and it’s time to go. But in a very small percentage of cases – a fraction of a percent – I will unban someone if they take responsibility and express a genuine desire to participate in good faith and do better. I felt that this member’s message to me was genuine and I unbanned them.

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Popular Science Shuts Off Comments on Their Website: Some Unsolicited Community Thoughts

Posted by Patrick on September 26th, 2013 in

Popular ScienceOn Tuesday, Popular Science announced that they would not allow reader comments on new articles on their website, except on “select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussion.” They will still welcome reader comments via their Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest profiles, in addition to email, live chats and more.

Suzanne LaBarre, the online content director for the publication, explained that comments “can be bad for science,” and that comments were having a negative effect on the work Popular Science tries to do. Namely, science. Unfortunately, when commenting on areas of interest that require expertise to understand, many (some would say most) comments are made by people who lack the experience needed to qualify them to offer an informed opinion.

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B2B Companies: How Can You Connect Your Top Customers in Your Online Community?

Posted by Patrick on September 23rd, 2013 in Community Cultivation

When a B2B (business-to-business) company starts an online community – like Shopify did with their Ecommerce University – one of the questions they might wrestle with is: how do we get our A players involved? In other words, how can we get our most successful customers into the community?

With Shopify, for example, you have a wide customer base. They power online stores that are just getting started, that have no revenue, and they power online stores that are generating millions of dollars. Why would the million dollar people want to join the community? Why would they want to talk with the people who are new? What value would they receive?

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Thoughts on The Verge’s “The End of Kindness,” a Must Read for Community Managers

Posted by Patrick on September 19th, 2013 in Thinking
Bristol, May-2013
Creative Commons License photo credit: maltman23

The End of Kindness: weev and the Cult of the Angry Young Man is a must read by Greg Sandoval over at The Verge. For anyone, really. It is the duty of responsible people to not accept this type of behavior, if they see it, and to discourage anyone they are associated with from engaging in it.

Most community management veterans are probably aware of Kathy Sierra’s story, but it’ll be new for many of you. It’s frightening, but these frightening acts are carried out all the time. Even if it is hard to read about them, it is important to do so.

I believe that well moderated online communities may be the last bastion of hope for people who seek to engage with others online, but to not be subjected to scary, malicious threats. Don’t get me wrong, those threats do come even in those communities, but it is how they are handled that makes the difference. It’s a culture thing. It’s the understanding that it isn’t accepted or encouraged.

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Seven Qualities of Service, a Paper I Wrote When I Was 17

Posted by Patrick on September 16th, 2013 in Managing the Community

I’m downsizing in my life right now. Personally and professionally. On the personal end, I’m going through all of the things I have accumulated over the years and getting rid of a lot of it.

Last night, I came across some old school papers and stopped at a business management paper I had written when I was 17 (a lot happened when I was 17), talking about providing outstanding service. It included “seven qualities of service,” based on the letters in the word service. Reading it, I thought it fit in well with a lot of what we talk about here. I thought I’d share it with you.

S: Sociable – being genuinely and honestly interested in people and actually paying attention to your customers.

E: Effervescent – being excited about life, about the possibilities you have, about the people you meet and about the things you do.

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Spam Doesn’t Have to Be Automated

Posted by Patrick on September 12th, 2013 in How Should I Participate?

Is that message spam? Two people can give a different answer about the very same message, depending on various factors. But one factor that doesn’t really matter is whether or not the message was delivered by a bot or through some automated process.

This logic doesn’t pass muster and a simple exercise exposes this. Let’s say that I use a bot to post a message on your community, send you a message on Twitter or send you an email, and you decide that message is spam. If I were to manually send you the exact same message, would you magically decide it wasn’t spam?

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Guideline Violations Can Help Members Use Your Online Community Better

Posted by Patrick on September 9th, 2013 in Interacting with Members
Guiding Light
Creative Commons License photo credit: jurvetson

There is no getting around the fact that when you moderate an online community, you will tell people what they cannot do on the community. People try to sugar coat this, but there’s no point in that. A community where anyone can do anything is a community without aspiration.

But you can also take these moments and use them as an opportunity to help the member to use your community better. This might be best achieved through the use of contact templates, which are private messages that staff members send to a member, explaining why a post has been removed.

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You Use the Same Forum Software as Nazis

Posted by Patrick on September 5th, 2013 in Humor

Facebook Community Manager ProfileYou have something in common with Nazis. I’m sure this isn’t a shock to you. If you manage an active online community, you’ve probably been compared to Hitler and this is what your Facebook profile looks like.

You and Nazis, you do a lot of the same things. You both eat food, you both shave parts of your body, you both use the internet. But something more devious is also true: you both use the same forum software. No matter what forum software that is, Nazis also use it.

Does this betray a deep connection between you and the Nazis? Well, that’s what a certain political club suggested on their blog on Monday. Seriously, read the article. It’s hilarious.

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Ryan Leslie Bets on Community, Moving Beyond Passive Social Media Followers

Posted by Patrick on September 2nd, 2013 in Community Cultivation, How Should I Participate?

Black Mozart by Ryan Leslie“Can’t touch me, the community loves me.”

– Ryan Leslie, Carnival of Venice

Back when I wrote Managing Online Forums, one of the people I reached out to for advance praise in late 2007 was Ryan Leslie.

This wasn’t some blanket spam request. I asked around 17 specific people and of that 17, 14 provided praise. I had reasons for contacting these individuals. At least as far back as 2006, I had been following Ryan’s work and was impressed by him, his background and his entrepreneurial spirit. He’s a uniquely smart, talented guy and I felt that he was on the way to even greater heights. When he agreed to read the book and then provide a blurb for me, I was honored.

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