Delay Decisions to Ask Affected Parties for Input

Posted by Patrick on July 31st, 2014 in Managing the Community

It’s natural to want to make decisions quickly, and most decisions happen just like that. There is this pressure online to act fast and respond quickly. Otherwise, you are asleep at the wheel, or you don’t care. Sometimes you just have to put those pressures aside, take a step back, and speak to those who are directly affected by the decision you will make.

At, we have an articles section where members submit long form pieces that are then proof read and published. They receive a bit more polish than the average post. Due to that, they are placed in their own section and, on average, receive more attention than they might as a random thread.

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Community Software Can Help Emphasize Current Members Over Former Ones

Posted by Patrick on July 28th, 2014 in Developing Your Community, Thinking

Long-running online communities have a challenge when it comes to highlighting newer members. Old members – many of which may not even be active any longer – tend to be the members with the most total posts, most reputation or some other accumulated number.

One of the reasons people participate in communities is for recognition, and one of the ways that happens is through these metrics. If the path to recognition seems impossible, that makes some people less likely to participate.

Community software (or, perhaps, add-ons for our chosen software) can help us here, by displaying metrics that are more timely, in addition to the overall ones.

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Treat Your Online Community’s Paid Memberships Like Amazon Treats Amazon Prime

Posted by Patrick on July 24th, 2014 in Generating Revenue

Amazon PrimeIf you are launching paid (or premium) memberships on your community – or if you have them already – I’d encourage you to take a good, hard look at how Amazon has treated Amazon Prime. Especially when it comes to pricing and how they add new features to the program.

As a point of disclosure, I am both a Prime member and an Amazon shareholder.

The History of Amazon Prime in the U.S.

On February 2, 2005, Amazon Prime launched. It was priced at $79 a year, and the benefits were completely tied to shipping. Free two-day shipping on items sold directly by Amazon, as well as discounted one-day shipping, for up to 4 members of your household. Give or take, the shipping benefits have pretty much stayed the same over the years. But not much else has.

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Key Takeaways from How CNN and The New York Times Moderate Comments

Posted by Patrick on July 21st, 2014 in Managing the Community

Last week, I published an interview with Bassey Etim and David Williams. Respectively, they lead the teams that moderate comments for The New York Times (NYT) and CNN. They said a lot of great things, and I really enjoyed reading it.

I didn’t want to dilute their words by making it a 2-parter, but the resulting article was so long (more than 4,000 words), that I decided to hold off on sharing my favorite takeaways. Here they are.

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How CNN and The New York Times Moderate Comments

Posted by Patrick on July 17th, 2014 in Managing the Community

CNN and The New York TimesNews organizations and online comments. If you think about that combination, what comes to mind?

There was a time when many regarded the comment sections on mainstream media sites as an example of some of the worst discourse on the web. But it is slowly getting better. Among the community management professionals leading the charge, at the highest levels of the media, are Bassey Etim and David Williams.

Respectively, they work as community managers at The New York Times and CNN. Both have been in the field since 2008, both lead the teams responsible for the moderation of comments posted on their news organization’s website.

I’ve known David for a few years now and just recently connected with Bassey. They are tremendously smart community managers and experts in moderation. If you work in this profession, you should know their names. They deal with moderation at a volume that few can fathom, in an environment that is highly charged, in a space where many people expect to be able to say their piece, no matter what that is, without restriction.

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Changing Your Community Software Won’t Save You

Posted by Patrick on July 14th, 2014 in Community Cultivation

There are organizations that host online communities that have been or are now successful that have also been able to get away with not making a full time paid employee responsible for the community. Managing, growing and moderating the community just falls to whatever time other paid people can make available, and to volunteers.

I don’t think anything is wrong with that, necessarily. But what I notice is that when things get stale or activity declines, what happens is that some of these organizations throw a software update at the community. A redesign, new software, a substantial upgrade in feature set – something along those lines.

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Employee Advocacy: Don’t Inject Your Brand Into Another Brand’s Positive Story

Posted by Patrick on July 10th, 2014 in How Should I Participate?

I opened TweetDeck yesterday and immediately saw a tweet from someone I didn’t know, raving about the customer service that they received from a particular brand. The tweet itself had been retweeted by a friend, which is how it ended up in my stream.

The company he was talking about was not one I had heard of before, and I’m not likely to buy their products. But I clicked the tweet to check out the image that was attached to it. And then I saw this tweet (I’m paraphrasing, not looking to call out the individual):

“They do have great products and customer service! Their customer service could be even greater if they used [name of customer service related software].”

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I’m Looking for a New Opportunity

Posted by Patrick on July 7th, 2014 in

Patrick O'KeefeFor a long time, I have been quietly working toward simplifying my life and cutting away most of my commitments. I was juggling so many things that it began to feel stifling. I wanted to do something else, but I couldn’t. Now that I have successfully cleared my plate, I can talk about why I did it.

I wanted to open myself up to tackling my next big work. Whatever that may be. I have some ideas. Most of them involve some form of entrepreneurship. Writing a book, launching a start-up, etc.

But I am also really intrigued by the idea of joining a company. Over the years, I have been contacted about numerous opportunities, but I have always turned them down. I am at a point in my life where I am really hungry for change and a new challenge. I am more open to taking a role at a company than I have ever been before. If you have ever been interested in hiring me, now is a great time to get in touch.

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Monetizing Online Forums: 2 Years, 25,000+ Downloads

Posted by Patrick on July 3rd, 2014 in

Monetizing Online ForumsMonetizing Online Forums was released two years ago. The ebook, offered for free thanks to Skimlinks, has now been downloaded over 25,000 times (25,382 to be exact).

My home is about to be hit really hard by Hurricane Arthur, but I didn’t want to let this milestone slip by. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has downloaded the book and spread the word about it. In a sea of free ebooks, I am grateful that you gave it a chance.

I would like to thank Alicia Navarro and Joe Stepniewski at Skimlinks for their support, as well as Alicia, Ted Sindzinski and Todd Garland for their outstanding contributions to the work. Without you, the book would have been based on my knowledge alone – and it would have fallen short. I would also like to recognize Barbara Somlai for her outstanding cover design, which I still love to this day.

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