Getting people to join and contribute to your online community can be hard work.

There are many barriers to overcome.

When someone does decide to join, you want to capitalize on the momentum and make sure they can get involved as soon as possible.

New members of The Bump are greeted with a surprise after joining (click to enlarge):


“You need to have been a member of The Bump for
a couple of days before you can start to contribute.”

Some new members will wait the required ‘couple of days’. Some won’t.

One certainty, though: All new members will feel frustrated.

This can be avoided by getting rid of the cooling-off period entirely (recommended) or by making it clear that there is a waiting period up-front, before a new member joins.

When frustration is the first emotion experienced by a new member of your online community, you’re not off to a good start.

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The problem with halls of shame

by Martin Reed on 25 September 2014 in Snippets

The best way to deal with troublemakers in your online community is quietly (and quickly).

There is no ‘one size fits all’ way of dealing with abusive members.

You may want to privately discuss any issues you’re having with individual members on a one-to-one basis behind the scenes.

You may decide to delete content or ban members.

That’s your prerogative as a community manager (or moderator).

It’s important not to end up spending too much time on this issue, though.

It’s even more important that you don’t draw attention to the kind of behavior you’d rather not see in your online community.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Atheist Forums website does with their Hall of Shame.

Creating and maintaining a hall of shame consumes time that is better spent cultivating your community. It also acts as a badge of honor for those listed. It could even encourage other disillusioned (or bored) members to try getting on the list.

They’re best avoided.

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Your new community member’s true motivation

by Martin Reed on 18 August 2014 in Snippets

If you think every new member joins your community with the aim of actively participating and adding value, you’re wrong.

Most new members join purely for selfish reasons. They want to solve a problem.

That’s why you see so many new members ask a question very early on.

They aren’t interested in becoming a true member of the community (yet).

They’re in it for themselves.

The challenge for community managers is turning this individualism into something that will end up benefitting the entire community.

You do this by encouraging ever-increasing participation.

Over time, new members will see the community as something they want (and even feel obliged) to add to, not just take from.

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Avoiding groupthink in online communities

by Martin Reed on 10 July 2014 in Snippets

An unavoidable cliché: variety is the spice of life.

Something to be aware of as a community manager, though.

Your community learns from your leadership. They learn what the community’s accepted behaviors and norms are.

What you do influences the culture of your community.

Make sure you’re not creating the same type of content over and over again.

More importantly, make sure you’re not rewarding the same type of behavior over and over again.

If you’re always directing the spotlight at community members who are making the type of contributions you want to see in the community, you’ll be attracting more of the same.

Useful and valuable content, no doubt.


When everyone thinks the same, when everyone concedes their opinion to the stronger personalities, when everyone is scared to go ‘against the grain’, your community becomes dull and lifeless.

It’s your job to stir the pot and make sure things stay interesting.

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Can you be trusted, community manager?

by Martin Reed 22 June 2014

If not, quit now. To be an effective community manager, trust is absolutely vital. Your employer places their trust in you. Your members place their trust in you. You need to be able to follow through on your promises. You need to always under-promise and over-deliver. You need to be able to keep secrets (plenty […]

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The best ideas won’t always come from you

by Martin Reed 6 May 2014

Sometimes your community will come up with (and act upon) their own ideas. Sometimes these ideas will work. Sometimes they won’t. What I can tell you is this: most of the time, their ideas will work – and their success rate will always be higher than your own. The reason for this is simple: When […]

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3 things all online communities need

by Martin Reed 14 April 2014

Let’s boil this right down. At a bare minimum, all online communities need: 1. A clear, communicable identity and purpose. You need to be able to keep the purpose of your community short and snappy. Think elevator pitch – but even shorter. If you can’t condense the purpose (and benefits) of your online community down […]

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Who is your online community for?

by Martin Reed 5 March 2014

This is especially relevant if you’re at the planning stage for an online community or if you’re stuck with a community that doesn’t seem to be working. The purpose of your online community needs to be aligned with the desires of the members you’re hoping to attract (and keep). The problem is, most of the […]

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Community building success from just one new member

by Martin Reed 14 February 2014

In the early stages of community building, you’ll spend a lot of your time attracting new members. You’ll seek out your ideal members, build relationships with them and invite them to join your community. There’s no denying that this can be a labor intensive process. Getting members on board one by one may seem like […]

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5 ways to address stalled community conversations

by Martin Reed 16 October 2013

A very basic mistake I see being made time and time again in online communities (particularly new ones): failed threads. I wrote about this back in 2009 but I still see it all too often, so today I am revisiting the topic. If you’re seeing new conversations end before they’ve even begun (there’s a new […]

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