The Most Popular Reasons Posts Are Reported on My Community

Posted by Patrick on December 30th, 2013 in Interacting with Members, Managing the Community

Over at, we have a simple post reporting system. As a logged in member, you click a button on a post and you can include an explanation of why you feel the post may be inappropriate.

We encourage members to report a post whenever they suspect one may need attention from a staff member. We don’t want them to feel like they should only report a post if they feel 100% sure it is a violation. We want them to report anything that seems fishy and allow us to make the determination. There is no repercussion for filing a report that doesn’t lead to action.

As we’ve built up a substantial collection of report data over several years, I thought it would be interesting to see what words pop up in reports most frequently, as that is an indicator of the things they report the most and that data can be used to improve.

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I Received an Amazing Christmas Gift From One of My Moderators

Posted by Patrick on December 26th, 2013 in Managing Staff

GoodiesOn December 24, I headed to the post office near closing time to see if a package had arrived. I was waiting on a box with a couple of gifts I had purchased for my brothers. I noticed that, when I checked my mail box, I had a key in it, which meant that I had a package in an even larger mail box waiting for me.

I opened it, but it wasn’t the box I was expecting. It was a different box and it was from one of my moderators on, named Danielle. I wasn’t expecting anything, so it came as a total surprise.

After I made it home, I opened the box to find a card and an assortment of goodies from the United Kingdom, where Danielle lives. Along with a kind note, there were Jaffa Cakes, a Galaxy bar, Tesco Jam Roly Poly Toffees, Sprinty Kinder Surprise, a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar and more. All of which I have never had.

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The Biggest Reason That My Moderators Support My Decisions

Posted by Patrick on December 23rd, 2013 in Managing Staff

Over the many years that I have managed online communities, I have had a lot of moderators. But, even with the wide variety of people on my staff, I have had the support of my moderators with pretty much every decision I have made. Of course, there are rare exceptions, but they are so rare that it’s hard to recall specific examples.

Most decisions are fairly simple. This person is a spammer, ban them. But then there are more challenging ones, with veteran members. No matter what, though, my staff tends to be supportive of the moves that I make, especially when it comes to banning people.

This is not something I take for granted. It is something I deeply appreciate and work hard to earn and justify.

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YouTube Comment Notification Changes Negatively Impact Moderation

Posted by Patrick on December 19th, 2013 in Managing the Community

All Caught UpI’m not as down on the deeper Google+ and YouTube integration as a lot of YouTubers. I think it brings some interesting things, some of which can be beneficial to content creators and for community building.

YouTube eliminating comment notification emails was not one of those things.

When it comes to manual moderation, this represents a step back. I used to archive all email comment notifications to serve as documentation for any comments I removed. For example: I ban someone. They email me asking why. I can go back, look at my email archives and remember that “oh yeah, you are a racist.”

YouTube has no system of documenting removed comments or why someone was banned. I really dislike not being able to remember or having doubt. Documentation always removes doubt. For me, emails were that documentation. They weren’t perfect, because they didn’t include the full comment, just a truncated version. But they usually included the gist.

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The Time I Couldn’t Delete Comments on My Own YouTube Channel and What That Could Mean for a Community

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

YouTubeI used to host an online show called Soda Tasting. Though I had a nice website and I interacted with people on various platforms, by and large, my interaction with people occurred on YouTube. And the reputation that YouTube comments have is generally deserving.

That said, the Soda Tasting community of viewers was a utopia and it was that way for two reasons. 1. There are great, cool people out there and some of them were attracted to the show. 2. When someone showed up who was neither great, nor cool, I would delete their comments and sometimes ban them.

Even though I have stopped hosting the show, I still allow comments on YouTube (for the moment) and I still monitor them to ensure that they are respectful, in line with the personality and atmosphere of the show. As always, anything rude or disrespectful is removed.

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Why I Redirect Criticism (and Worse) Away from My Moderators and Onto Me

Posted by Patrick on December 12th, 2013 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff
Is everything
Creative Commons License photo credit: tompagenet

Moderators moderate in the way that the community manager guides them to. Typically this is through policies (community guidelines), staff manuals (moderator guidelines) and documentation of member violations. Even when a well-meaning moderator makes a mistake, they make that mistake because they believe it is what the community manager wanted. It’s all part of being a team. Great moderators move as a unit.

In the course of handling these duties, they will encounter criticism and be a first point of contact for it because they are in direct contact with members. They are the ones telling a member why they can’t do something.

I believe that one of the really good functions that a community manager can serve, in relation to their moderators, is being the recipient of any serious criticism that a member has for how a moderator is operating. I mean, moderators can answer questions and moderators can explain some things, but when it comes to serious criticism of a decision (or worse), I want to deal with that.

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Slide Deck: Managing Abusive Online Community Members (or “The Mean Things People Say to Moderators”)

Posted by Patrick on December 9th, 2013 in Humor, Resources

Mean GuyYesterday, I spoke to a group of moderators at Australian National University. My talk centered around the nasty things that people say to community managers and moderators and my strategy for dealing with them. It was really lighthearted with many funny stories featuring real things that people have said to me.

Though funny to discuss, it is a real thing that happens and a point of stress for those who work in this space. Those funny stories served as the narrative for the practical lessons that I have learned over the years. Some of which I’ll write about soon. I also identified common themes that exist within abusive messages, such as negotiation and bargaining, threats, accusations of bias, accusations of corruption and comparisons to Hitler, the Nazis, Stalin, etc.

If you’ve been been moderating for a while, I thought you might enjoy having a look at the slide deck, if only for the entertainment value. I purposefully skipped over the types of things you need to report to authorities, like specific threats to your well being, and stuck with things people try to say to make you feel lesser or to intimidate you in doing what they want.

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Jeff Bezos: One Day, Will Be Gone (and So Will Your Online Community)

Posted by Patrick on December 5th, 2013 in Thinking founder and CEO Jeff Bezos appeared on 60 Minutes earlier this week for an interview with Charlie Rose. I’m a big fan of Bezos and Amazon (disclosure: I’m also a long term shareholder). There were some great things that Bezos said. One of the quotes that caught my eye was about Amazon’s finite lifespan.

Jeff Bezos: Companies have short life spans, Charlie. And Amazon will be disrupted one day.

Charlie Rose: And you worry about that?

Bezos: I don’t worry about it because I know it’s inevitable. Companies come and go. And the companies that are the shiniest and most important of any era, you wait a few decades and they’re gone.

Rose: And your job is to make sure that you delay that date?

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Elan Gale Didn’t Help the Flight Attendant and Online Community Members Like Him Don’t Help Community Managers

Posted by Patrick on December 2nd, 2013 in How Should I Participate?

On Thanksgiving, television producer Elan Gale live-tweeted his side of a contentious exchange with another passenger, on board a flight. If you haven’t heard the story, you should read this Storify post. Be sure to click “Read next page” at the bottom of the embedded tweets and photos, as there are a couple of pages.

There is a lot of speculation about this story and you can do a Google search for that. I don’t know that I believe the story (edit: looks like my suspicions were correct). But for the sake of this article, let’s assume that the story is true and that it is precisely as Mr. Gale described, from his notes, to Diane and her personality.

My family has spent a lot of time working in the service industry, but I don’t think much of Mr. Gale’s actions. It’s hard to take a high ground, as he attempts to do on his blog, when your actions are no better (and, in my opinion, worse) than the target of your criticism.

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