Fantasy Sports, Movie Clubs and Activities That Take Your Members Away to Bring Them Closer

Posted by Patrick on August 31st, 2015 in Community Cultivation

There are many fun opportunities to send your members away from your community.

Let me rephrase that.

There are many fun activities that your members can participate in together, away from your community, that will strengthen their ties – to each other and to your community.

Don’t focus so much on keeping people on your site (time spent on page) to the point where you overlook ways to connect your members off of it. Especially in off-topic areas where your members are passionate.

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People, Process, Product: How Marcus Lemonis’ Three P’s Apply to Online Community Building

Marcus LemonisI’m a big fan of Marcus Lemonis, who helps struggling small businesses on CNBC’s The Profit. I even tweeted recently that I’d love to work for him. I really identify with how he goes about his business, and it reminds of my Dad and the lessons he’s taught me.

One of his mantras is that successful businesses need the three P’s: people, process and product. This is a great, simple way of expressing how to build an enduring company. It’s just as applicable to building a successful online community.


Community professionals are not a dime a dozen. There are great ones, bad ones and plenty in between. Some are just starting out, others have been in the field for more than 20 years. Your budget often dictates who you can hire and how long you can keep them.

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Moderation is an Educational Opportunity

Posted by Patrick on August 24th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

You should look at moderation as an opportunity to educate, not criticize. Specifically, the act of removing content and informing a member of a guideline violation. This is a great moment, where you can guide the member to a more fruitful existence in your community.

I don’t see removed content as a strike. I’m not counting to 3 and then kicking you off. Context is everything. Mistakes happen – it’s all about how the member responds. I like to invest in the members who are trying to get better – and get rid of the ones who don’t care.

This is part caring and part process. The caring aspect is mental. It’s the thought that you want to have as many great members as you can and the understanding that there are people who need some help to become that great member. You need that mindset, and you need to surround yourself with people who have it.

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Why Was Your Comment Removed? Try Occam’s Razor

Posted by Patrick on August 20th, 2015 in How Should I Participate?, Managing the Community

Last week, The New York Times published an article about the “bruising workplace” at Amazon. I didn’t think much of it because it seemed to only show part of the picture. It’s not hard to find a collection of people with alleged horror stories about a big company. You can find a bunch of people I’ve banned from my communities or kicked off of my staff that will regale you with tales of what a terrible human being I am.

I would be open to applying for a job at Amazon. I eyed this one, but I am not a “game industry veteran,” despite my passion for gaming. I’m a big Amazon fan, as I’ve made abundantly clear. I’m a long-term shareholder. Disclosures aside, I have been critical of them before. But for those reasons, I enjoyed reading the rebuttal written by Nick Ciubotariu, an Amazon employee. I even shared it on my social media profiles.

However, there is at least one thing he got wrong, in my opinion, and it is this quote, which was included as an update to his post:

“I tried to post it in the comments section of the New York Times article. I’m sad, but not surprised, to say it was moderated out.” (The emphasis was Ciubotariu’s, not mine).

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Posted by Patrick on August 17th, 2015 in Thinking

A couple of years ago, I decided to (slowly) do some downsizing in my offline, physical life. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, and it was time to trim down. It took several months (again, I purposefully went slow), but I rid of myself of many things. Sold, given away, recycled, donated and thrown in the garbage.

I’ll be moving soon, and I’m glad that the downsizing is already out of the way – even if I’m doing a little more now. But packing up has me thinking of the necessity to downsize in the context of the online communities that we manage.

There are plenty of moments where we need to think smaller, to cut away, to simplify. Let’s talk about a few examples.

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Managing an Online Community Volunteer Program at SXSW

Posted by Patrick on August 13th, 2015 in

Please Vote for Our SXSW 2016 IdeaSouth by Southwest is a great event. Well-organized with a seemingly limitless number of experiences available to you. It’s a lot of fun to speak at, and I’m hoping to do so again in 2016.

This year, I teamed up with Scott Moore on a proposal. Scott is an online community veteran that I respect. His knowledge is insanely deep, based on his 19 years in the space.

We want to talk about managing online community volunteer programs. During the reddit issues this summer, the one issue that stood out, above all others, was how they were treating their volunteer moderators. Long term neglect led to a showdown where the moderators effectively shut down many of the most active communities on the platform.

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The Unflappable Enthusiasm of “Weird Al” Yankovic

Posted by Patrick on August 10th, 2015 in Managing the Community, Thinking
Credit: slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

On Saturday, I went with my brothers to the “Weird Al” Yankovic concert in Newport News, Virginia. I’m a big fan of Weird Al, and it was our second time seeing him. He puts on a great show, and we had a lot of fun.

If you’ve never been to a Weird Al show, it’s a little different from your average music concert. During the performance, the physical energy of the crowd more closely resembles what you might see for a big name standup comic, rather than what you’d expect from the fans of a popular rap, rock or pop artist.

In general, when I go to a concert, I’m not among those moving the most. I stand, I clap, I bop along to the music. I don’t tend to put my arms up, scream, etc. I’ll sing along if the artist wants it or I feel just right. But I am not among the most animated in attendance.

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Unblocking a Link From Being Posted in Our Community – After 12 Years

Posted by Patrick on August 6th, 2015 in Managing the Community
Credit: mario) (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: mario) (CC BY 2.0)

A few months ago, there was a conversation on one of my communities where members were talking about other forums that they participate in. This is a natural thing, and it crops up every so often.

Rather than being afraid that members will leave for these other communities, I embrace these types of discussions because I believe in the atmosphere we’re creating. I’m secure in what we are and don’t feel the need to block other forums from being mentioned, simply because we both focus on the same topic. It’s not my job to monopolize the time of our community members.

That said, one of the tools that I have in my arsenal is the ability to block specific websites from being mentioned. We use our word censor in a proactive way, and it covers URLs. This has come in handy time and time again. I’m very judicious how I use it – mostly, it’s utilized to stop persistent spammers.

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Technical Debt vs. Community Debt

Posted by Patrick on August 3rd, 2015 in Community Cultivation

In his guest post here last month, Bryant Quan, the chief product officer at Slickdeals, mentioned the concept of “technical debt vs. community debt.”

To illustrate this, he explained how Slickdeals had launched a redesign, but instead of forcing everyone to use it immediately, they made the decision to maintain a classic version of the site. They committed to supporting that version for the foreseeable future with the goal of making the new version so good that most people (or all) would willingly make the switch.

In other words, instead of accruing a community debt by forcing their members to simply deal with a change, they took on a technical burden.

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