High and Medium (Not Low) Quality Forum Posts Both Offer Value to Your Community

Posted by Patrick on October 31st, 2013 in Community Cultivation
P365x52-281: Westfield Mall
Creative Commons License photo credit: kurafire

With forums especially, you have a crowd who has a distaste for what they feel are low quality forum posts. I don’t want to use the term “low quality” for the posts I am about to describe because they aren’t low quality. Instead, I’ll call them “medium quality.”

You have on-topic posts, off-topic posts, detailed posts and short posts. Where a given contribution intersects with these categorizations will often determine how people judge the quality of it. But, even if a post is considered “low quality” by those who manage forums or by community professionals, that doesn’t mean that members of the community do not receive value from it.

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The Benefits of Buying an Online Forum Instead of Starting One

Posted by Patrick on October 28th, 2013 in Community Cultivation
Tom Butterfly Final
Creative Commons License photo credit: JoshDobson

I recently discussed the benefits of starting a forum instead of buying one, so I wanted to flip that around and talk about the benefits of buying one as opposed to launching a new one. All of the benefits can be summed up with one word: maturity.

An established community is already launched. This means that it can already have a good domain name, a nice design and software that is installed and configured. It is receiving traffic, has a database of members and contributions and active members who are adding more content every day.

One of the benefits to starting a forum instead of buying one is that you can help shape the culture. But if the community already has a great culture, that’s a big benefit. In fact, that is one of the things I look for when considering buy a forum. I don’t want to have any major philosophical differences. I don’t want to buy something that embarrasses me or makes me look bad or isn’t fun for me. If there is a culture match, that’s a great benefit and then I can help further what is already in place.

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Reflecting on Reaching 500,000 Posts

Posted by Patrick on October 24th, 2013 in Thinking hit 500,000 posts yesterday. When I started the community, 12 years, 5 months and 3 days ago, I had no idea how proud of it I would become.

When I sit back and take a breath and think about where it’s been, plenty of memories flash by. Happy moments, challenging moments. But more than anything else, it’s the people who have made a difference. Not all the people, just the great ones. Most people are a blur, but the great ones stand out.

The number is awesome, but the number isn’t the thing. The thing is the culture and then the numbers fill that in. I’ve never been all that bothered with numbers, but I suspect I cared more about them when I started managing communities nearly 14 years ago. The thrill of watching the numbers. Posts per day, unique visitors, active members, new members, bounce rate, whatever it is. As I’ve matured, that has changed. Numbers are still cool and useful, but they aren’t what community is about.

New community managers fall in love with numbers. Veterans fall in love with people.

The Benefits of Starting an Online Forum Instead of Buying One

Posted by Patrick on October 21st, 2013 in Community Cultivation

Over the years, I have considered buying numerous forums, some that I saw for sale and some where the owner approached me directly. Though I have carefully considered a few opportunities, I have never gone through with it.

It’s not because I have anything against buying and selling forums – I don’t. It’s not that the forums weren’t valuable. It’s not that they couldn’t have made me money. I do love money. But there are a lot of things I could do for money that I don’t do. If you only do it for money, this article won’t really apply to you.

The biggest reason tends to be that I am not liking the culture of the community. The tone, the atmosphere, how people speak to one another. What they are or are not allowed to get away with – illegal or otherwise. I could always buy a community and change it substantially, but why do that? Why buy something I don’t think highly of as is? The members are used to a certain thing, why change it?

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Rick Rubin-Inspired Thoughts on Community Management

Posted by Patrick on October 17th, 2013 in Managing the Community

Rick RubinI really enjoyed Andrew Romano’s interview with Rick Rubin for Newsweek. It’s really an inspirational read. I have a lot of respect for Rubin and his body of work is incomparable.

You don’t get to work with all of the people that he has worked with, across all of the different genres of music, without knowing what you are doing. I really appreciate his philosophy and his approach.

In short, I want to be the Rick Rubin of online community. Ha.

Reading the interview, there were a few points in particular that hit home and I wanted to talk about them.

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My Online Community is Struggling with Member Self-Promotion: What Can I Do?

Posted by Patrick on October 14th, 2013 in Managing the Community
Funny Internet Spam for eMail and Websites is Spicy
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I received an email recently from someone who manages a large online community, looking for some input regarding the “struggle” that they were having with member self-promotion within their forums. We’ll call her Laura.

It wasn’t so much a problem with recognized businesses, who were doing a pretty good job of confining themselves to a dedicated area for members to promote their businesses. It is more an issue with members asking people to visit their blog, like their Facebook page, etc. They have allowed random one-offs, but now it is getting more problematic.

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Online Comments Offer More Than an All (Open Comments) or Nothing (No Comments) Game

Posted by Patrick on October 10th, 2013 in Managing the Community
Highlands, Escocia
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nuria_PC

I touched on this thought very quickly in my article about Popular Science’s decision to turn off comments on their website, but I wanted to take a moment to expand on it a little bit.

What I want you to think about is everything that exists between having open comments on everything you create and having no comments at all anywhere. These are two extremes and most people who have a blog or similar space stick to them, but you can get creative and explore the middle ground between the extremes.

Of course, you have the ability to establish a comment policy and moderate to it, which is generally a great idea. But, in addition to this, here are a few strategies that may work for some, in no particular order:

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California’s “Online Eraser” Law for Teens is Damaging to Online Communities

Posted by Patrick on October 7th, 2013 in Thinking

Last month, California enacted Senate Bill 568 (California Business & Professions Code Section 22581), which is aimed at protecting teenagers online.

According to BBC News, it works by forcing websites to remove content posted by minors who live in the state, when so requested. However, if that content is reposted by others, those posts do not have to be removed. Furthermore, the data does not have to be removed from the website’s servers – only from public view. This law will take effect on January 1, 2015.

It was authored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

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You Choose a Thankless Job, You Can’t Be Upset When Nobody Thanks You

Posted by Patrick on October 3rd, 2013 in Thinking

Ron Swanson“You choose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you,” Ron Swanson tells Leslie Knope on the season 6 premiere episode of Parks and Recreation.

Knope is a councilwoman in the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana. A vocal segment of the city’s population is fickle, bringing petty, unimportant problems to Knope, who then fixes them with the passion of someone who enjoys her job. When Swanson says the quote above, Knope is discussing how she is disappointed with the town. Seemingly, no one appreciates what she says. In fact, there is a group trying to recall her from office.

Pointing out that some people do appreciate her, Swanson mentions April Ludgate, who works for Knope in the Parks department. Ludgate nominated Knope for an award, but Knope says that April does that all the time, anyway, as a joke.

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