Does Flickr Understand Their Power Users? Auto-Tagging Controversy Could Have Easily Been Avoided

Posted by Patrick on May 14th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

Flickr Auto TagsWhen I opened Twitter on Monday, one of the first tweets I saw was this message from Heather Champ. Champ, a well-respected mind in community circles, is the former director of community at Flickr, a role she held for five years.

In the tweet, Champ criticized Flickr’s decision to automatically apply tags to previously uploaded photos. These tags were generated by image recognition technology. She called the move “so community hostile that I fear my head may explode from even thinking about it.” In a follow up tweet, Champ further highlighted a settings page within Flickr where she had specifically indicated that she was the only person who could add tags to her Flickr uploads.

Jessamyn West, also well known in the community space due to her work on MetaFilter, tweeted similar criticism.

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Money Is Not the Root of All Evil Now; Attention Is

Posted by Patrick on May 7th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

I’ve been a fan of Fabolous for a long time. Recently, the rapper has been releasing a freestyle every week as part of his Friday Night Freestyles series. My favorite, thus far, is his “All for the Love Freestyle,” which uses the beat from “All for the Love” by The Lox. Please note: the song, embedded below, is explicit.

The original “All for the Love,” which features only Jadakiss from The Lox, has been a longtime favorite of mine. Fabolous’ freestyle has a number of great lines that stood out to me, but perhaps none as much as this one:

“Money ain’t the root of all evil now. Attention is.”

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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.

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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.

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Homesteading Today and How to Quickly Turn Your Community Against You

Homesteading TodayHomesteading Today is a very large online community dedicated to the practice of homesteading. The forum was acquired by Carbon Media Group (CMG) in July of 2014, as part of a large package of sites they bought from Group Builder.

Beginning late last year (according to this apology), the company started taking posts from certain sections of Homesteading Today and republishing them on other forums owned by CMG. The practice went unnoticed until a few days ago, when a member found that posts they had made on Homesteading Today were showing up on Cattle Forum, another CMG community.

The member, willow_girl, posted a thread talking about how she discovered that posts she made on Homesteading Today were showing up at Cattle Forum under the name “Alice.” She hadn’t made them and had no idea who Alice was. One of the posts shared a pretty personal story about saving a cow, which this Alice was now taking credit for.

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Law Enforcement and Online Community Moderation: A Conversation With Two Officers/Moderators

Posted by Patrick on March 2nd, 2015 in Interacting with Members, Managing Staff, Managing the Community

I have a wonderful staff over at My team is comprised of 9 people, including 5 moderators. Those 5 moderators have been with me for a combined 35 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days (these are real numbers and those 3s are purely coincidental). This group of 9 is the strongest team that I have ever had the fortune of working with. They are excellent people with strong character.

Of the 5 moderators, two work in law enforcement. Brian Walker, who has been on staff since July 31, 2006, is a patrol deputy in Kansas. Alex Embry joined our team on December 2, 2008. He is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team. As long as they have been with me at, they have been working in law enforcement even longer.

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Home Depot’s Online Community Isn’t Here to (Directly) Sell You Hammers

Posted by Patrick on February 19th, 2015 in How Should I Participate?, Interacting with Members, Thinking

Jay Baer recently wrote about the importance of owning your “social community.” The idea of building community in spaces that you control is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and it’s good that someone like Jay is talking about it. That will help the message reach more big brands.

His article led to a discussion on Google+, where someone pointed to some examples provided by Jay – like The Home Depot Community – and questioned if they represented real “engagement.” They mentioned that there were discussions with a handful of replies and “no likes.” There were plenty of views of the discussions, but not a lot of replies. So where is the engagement, they wondered?

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Don’t Treat Kids Like Garbage (and the Influencer Trap)

Posted by Patrick on February 16th, 2015 in How Should I Participate?, Interacting with Members
Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial from Nationwide. The commercial, embedded below, revolves around a handful of little kids who are on the receiving end of some unsatisfactory customer service.

There is a boy on the phone, and he’s told by an automated greeting that his call is important, but his wait time is 55 minutes. This is followed by a girl attempting to get the attention of a server at a restaurant – the server walks right by her. You get the idea.

In the final example, a girl is frustrated and looking at her damaged car. Then a Nationwide representative appears and tells her that they’ll take care of the problem. Instantly, she turns into an adult woman. In other words, Nationwide is treating her as an adult, not a child.

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I Paid Facebook $1 When Someone Asked a Question on My Forums

Posted by Patrick on February 12th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

Facebook: Send for $1Last week, someone posted a question on They had purchased a Photoshop action, which is a file that tells Photoshop how to do something, allowing it to perform that action on multiple files repeatedly. They work for a government agency and had used this action on approximately 70 images for their employer.

Unfortunately, they recently had some computer issues and, due to that, the action was gone. The company who sold it to them was also gone and had stopped selling actions. The person joined the community to ask for help finding the action. If they couldn’t find it, they would have to redo those 70 images – probably in addition to a few new ones – and it would create a bunch of work.

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When You Make People Choose, They Won’t Choose You

Posted by Patrick on January 12th, 2015 in Interacting with Members

I was watching an episode of Shark Tank recently, and there was an investment opportunity that interested two sharks – Daymond John and Lori Greiner. The entrepreneur was negotiating and deciding which of the two sharks to go with.

The entrepreneur was doing what they should do and wasn’t really belaboring the process. But, suddenly, Mrs. Greiner said that if the entrepreneur didn’t choose her immediately, that she would take her offer off of the table. Instantly, I said out loud to the TV, “decision made – you choose John” (or something like that). And sure enough, the entrepreneur did. It was the right choice.

When you are engaging in a good faith manner, and someone threatens you with isolation if you don’t choose them, you should pretty much always not choose them.

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