This is What Community Strategy Looks Like

Posted by Patrick on April 30th, 2015 in Resources
Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

If you want to know what community strategy looks like, watch the video embedded below. It’s a presentation delivered by Bill Johnston at’s Brands-Only Summit in October of 2014.

The presentation centers around the strategy that Bill put into place after becoming Director, Online Community & Customer Experience, at Autodesk in February 2014. Previously, they had a broken, disjointed community strategy – that he refers to as “no community strategy” – that suffered from a serious over-reliance on Facebook. When Facebook cut organic reach, they were hit hard.

There’s really no one I hold higher in our profession than Bill. He left Autodesk in February to start Structure3C, where he helps businesses grow customer communities.

Read More

The Blueprint for a Successful reddit AMA

Posted by Patrick on April 27th, 2015 in Resources

The Marketer's Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanniI took some time, this weekend, to read The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. It’s a free guide, 30 pages in length, available if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Paul and David are focused on helping marketer’s use reddit in a way that is authentic and respectful to the community. If it’s for marketers, why am I writing about it here? Because it’s really a guide to hosting an AMA, and AMAs, when done right, are definitely a form of community building.

David has written a couple of guest posts here. If I had a question about reddit, I’d ask them. And that’s why I read the guide.

Read More

How to Create a Static Archive of Old Community Features You No Longer Use

Posted by Patrick on April 23rd, 2015 in Resources

Until recently, at, we had this old photo album feature. I say old because no one used it, it was just there. Once upon a time, about 13 years ago, we launched the photo album, and people used it. But, as time went on, they used it less and less until 2012, where they stopped using it at all.

What happened? People adopted the most practical use for sharing photos: posting them in the forums. More people would see them, and you could have a better discussion about them. It only made sense. I embraced that idea long ago and stopped actively promoting the photo album.

And yet, it was still there. Which isn’t really a good thing. Even if I remove all references to it, the fact that it is still online, powered by old PHP code, connecting to our database, adds to the likelihood of a potential security issue. At the same time, I didn’t want to just delete the album completely like it was never there.

Read More

People Should Know When They Are Conversing with a Bot

Posted by Patrick on April 20th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

As artificial intelligence (AI) gets farther along and is adapted into more products, there will be more and more opportunities to use automated systems to converse with people in community and customer support efforts. Especially when they are asking something that a lot of people have asked.

For example, is a neat service that helps you schedule meetings through an automated personal assistant. Ryan Leslie, through his Disruptive Multimedia platform (which I like), encourages fans to text him and then puts them through an automated text message conversation to confirm that they have joined his music club.

We’ll only continue to see this more and more. There’s a lot of potential for it.

Read More

Community Software Could Help Identify Members Who Need Some Encouragement

Posted by Patrick on April 16th, 2015 in Thinking

If you are a particularly proactive community manager, you might notice when a member starts to become inactive and check in with them to make sure everything is OK or to see if there is anything you can do. In demonstrating that you care, you might be able to bring them back into the fold.

Why isn’t community software helping us do this?

I envision this working as follows. The person managing the community can define scenarios that would demonstrate a meaningful change in activity. For example, if a member has not made a post this week, but had made at least 30 posts in the 30 days before that, I want to see a flag in my dashboard.

Read More

Banning People From an Online Community is About More Than Removing Access

Posted by Patrick on April 13th, 2015 in Managing the Community

When it comes to banning and the purpose of banning, people often get it twisted. Even people who work in community management.

The purpose of banning isn’t to remove access as much as it is to curb behavior. Anyone who has been in this field for a little while knows that people can evade a ban and register another account. That’s not the primary point to banning.

The primary point is to provide a consequence for excessive and continual bad behavior. That consequence is the loss of reputation. While there is a group who won’t care, that’s a big deal for a lot of people. The desire to maintain their reputation is a powerful motivator for participating in line with the community guidelines and norms.

Read More

We Sent a Sword to a Member of the Community I Manage

Posted by Patrick on April 9th, 2015 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff

Earlier this year, a member of reached 25,000 posts on the community. The member, Brian Walker, is also a member of my staff, and I recently interviewed him for a feature on law enforcement officers who are also moderators. When he hit the mark, we posted an announcement and various members congratulated him and talked about how much he’s added to the community.

But I decided that I wanted to do more, to recognize Brian’s outstanding contribution to our community. I started a private forum thread that all staff members, except Brian, had access to. I used this thread to ask for ideas as to how we could honor Brian.

Read More

Georgia Supreme Court Overturns Restraining Order That Was Harmful to Online Communities

Posted by Patrick on April 6th, 2015 in Managing the Community

Just over two years ago, I wrote about a restraining order issued in the state of Georgia, which was harmful to online communities. The order was requested by author Linda Ellis and targeted at Matthew Chan. Chan is the creator of ExtortionLetterInfo, an online resource and community that discusses (and criticizes) settlement demand letters issued by copyright holders.

Ellis authored a poem, “The Dash,” and has a reputation for aggressively pursuing those who share it online. According to Chan’s interview with Ars Technica in 2013, he was contacted by someone that Ellis had threatened. Instead of paying Ellis, they opted to pay Chan to publicize the incident. He used his website to criticize Ellis.

Read More

Law Enforcement Advice on How to Deal with Offline and Suicide Threads on Your Community

Posted by Patrick on April 2nd, 2015 in Managing Staff, Managing the Community

Brian Walker is a patrol deputy in Kansas, who has been working in law enforcement since 2006. Alex Embry is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team, having been involved with law enforcement since 2004.

Both Alex and Brian also happen to be longtime moderators for me on

I found the connection very interesting and so we sat down to discuss their work, on the community that I manage, and off of it. In part one of the conversation, we discussed the similarities between both positions, being seen as more than just an enforcer, and judgement calls and officer discretion. For part two, we touched on the dark side of authority: abuse of power and corruption.

Read More