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If you’re looking for a book about building and sustaining online communities, check out “Managing Online Forums” by Patrick O’Keefe.  I just finished reading it, and was suitably impressed [disclosure: he sent me a review copy].

The book talks throughout about forums in a generic way; it’s not tied to any one tool or software system, though there are several sidebits about phpBB.  And much of his advice applies to more general community building—around a successful blog, for example, or a popular Facebook group.

One interesting idea that O’Keefe wrote, was that you can be very successful hiring a community builder who is not actually interested in the topic of your community, but who has the people and tech skills, and the time, to foster conversation.  Musing on that, i realize that in some ways, you’d end up with a more unbiased, less distracted moderator.  And that’s a plus.

If I had one criticism, though, it’s that the book doesn’t spend enough time on the positive aspects of community, and instead focuses on avoiding pitfalls (disgruntled users, trolls, how to ban IPs, etc.)  I liked his ideas about promoting interactivity and participation, and wish there had been more of them.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?







Hey Mr. Smith,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review the book. I really appreciate it and I'm glad that you liked it!

Thanks again,



Posted by Patrick
  at 5:38 am on Sep. 11, 2008

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