Where does a community manager go to learn new trends and gain expert industry insight to keep up with this crazy, progressive digital world? Online Community Unconference is an event, (not a conference) where community managers take the reins. A place for the new and seasoned community manager to get their feet wet, truly engage with like minds, and share their experiences. You will meet professionals from all aspects of the industry like managers, producers, developers, executives, tool providers and investors to discuss the solutions and strategies others have used to nurture and develop their online communities. There is no one better to offer advice than those on the front-lines continuously honing, practicing and implementing new strategies for their own online communities.
In 2007, Online Community Unconference opened its doors and invited social solution providers, designers, community trend setters and many others to come together to share their expertise. Thanks to these influential minds and industry support, Unconference is back again and in full force. “People have been trying to figure out the format for loose connections among the ‘community sector’ for some time, and we are getting to where that makes some logical sense to take action” (Gail Williams).
I keep seeing research evidence that “what goes around, comes around” online too. We think of it as common sense in the face-to-face world, but it’s becoming pretty evident online too. There’s safety in respect for self and others wherever it’s shown, including in digital spaces. Here are three examples in the research, starting with a recently released study:
Positive Begets Positive Online Too
The latest is a study released by Michigan State University researchers who found that “positive online comments can help blunt cyberbullying.” The question that led the press release was: “Want to stop cyberbullying on Facebook? Try using … Facebook.” But certainly not just in Facebook; that’s just where the research was done. If you want positive behaviors from others, be positive. We kind of knew that, right? I’m not being sarcastic in any way, just noting what we’re seeing more and more in the research: that online reflects offline, and there’s an ethic of reciprocity that works in all spaces. The social norms and common sense we humans have been developing for thousands of years apply in this new “space” into which human relations spill over and play out too. “We’ve established with our research that anti-cyberbullying messages that are framed in a negative way are not getting kids’ attention,” said one of the MSU researchers, Asst. Prof. Anna McAlister. This is good advice for the online safety field too.
The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday it will not delay the July 1, 2013 date of implementation to update Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). Over 19 trade associates have requested for an extension claiming more time is needed for the companies to transition and come up to par with current business practices. Many companies fear the significant impact that comes with COPPA 2.0 changes.
Extension Response from Commission Letter
Due to the “proliferation” of the digital market, including mobile devices, online social environments, virtual worlds and children's accessibility to these mediums the Commission noted the COPPA rule was on a “accelerated schedule.” 1.
Final amendments have been announced and Commission issues the statement of basis and purpose (SBP) and responds to analysis of public comments of obligated parties. Making note of costs and burdens of compliance as well as Commissions decision on the effective date of July 1, 2013 (Consistent with original rule and time frame of November 3, 1999 and its effective date on April 21, 2000). 2.
Commission responds it has provided sufficient guidance in regard to obligation of amended rule and responsible parties and its effective date is adequate.
Cyber bullying, or online bullying, continues to be a significant problem for teen and child-focused online communities. What are the steps a site owner can take to prevent or minimize this type of behavior in their online community?
First, let’s give a quick overview of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is similar to “regular” bullying, but is done through electronic means (e.g., cell phone, computer, tablet). There are many avenues for cyber bullying: social media sites, text messages, forums, and chat rooms are among them. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Cyberbullying Research Center, a stunning 52% of students reported being cyber bullied. It may be difficult for adults to relate to cyber bullying as the sheer speed and scale is much greater than bullying that we grew up with. No longer is bullying just done face-to-face. Being able to disparage someone online provides not only anonymity, but also, an extremely wide audience.
You recognize the potential value of implementing a profanity filter to keep your community clean and productive, but wonder, can it be trusted? Will the filter offer the efficiency you seek while maintaining the flexibility necessary for the ever-changing online environment? After all, even the most advanced language filtering techniques will produce false-positives or let creative slang slip through the cracks. The good news is there is an answer to improving profanity filtering effectiveness: Updating filter lists in real time. The ability to customize your profanity filter in real time is the key to gaining the security you seek, optimizing user experience and creating a successful community.
Protect Your Community Culture
Online communities commonly develop their own sub-culture enhanced by new and creative vocabulary specific to that culture. Had you heard of the terms uber, leet, or ftw prior to the rise of virtual worlds? This phenomenon should be embraced and supported by site owners as it strengthens the community by enhancing the online experience and increasing user engagement. However, new fun ways to communicate within a community also opens doors for new methods of harassment and bullying. So while it is important to allow community evolvement and creativity, you must also protect your members. A powerful tool for doing so is having the ability to update your profanity filter in real-time, which provides the following benefits: