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Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards Paperback – Apr 4 2008

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Amacom (April 4 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081440197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814401972
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 1.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #591,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"I feel that Managing Online Forums is a worthwhile book to buy and absorb. There are TONS of great resources in there, and lots of real world examples for you to follow. This alone makes the book a great resource to have on the shelf." --Chris Brogan

About the Author

Patrick O'Keefe (Harbinger, NC) is the owner of iFroggy Network, an Internet network of content, community, and e-commerce sites covering various interests. He currently manages seven separate online communities and has developed communities that have become some of the largest on their subject matter in the world.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A definite read before you open your community for business (since first impressions are everything). Some great tips on not only setting up your site but maintaining it later on. User rules, regulations, etc. Very helpful. The author also hosts a few great communities so some great references and examples.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa8bd4c24) out of 5 stars 72 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c8cb40) out of 5 stars Years of experience in one book April 11 2008
By Michael G. Kimsal - Published on
Format: Paperback
I had the opportunity to read through this book over the last week, and I'm just floored by how much good information it's got in it. This book is years of Patrick's experiences running successful forums (22 forums now, I believe!) and all the tips, tricks and wisdom he's picked up during those years. I ran a moderately successful forum years ago, and would have saved myself months of headache and heartache had I the information in this book at my fingertips back then.

The book is definitely opinionated - these are Patrick's recommendations based on his experiences, and it shows. His voice is natural, and the wording is down to earth. This isn't some theoretical treatise, but a 'from the trenches' view of what works, what doesn't, and why.

The book includes many sample forms which have example language to use for welcoming members to your forum, working with moderators, dealing with abusive or disruptive visitors, and much more. They're all available on the book's website too, so you don't need to retype it all in, but can quickly customize them to fit your own needs .

The one thing lacking in this book is that it doesn't go in to much detail about the major forum packages out there, so the reader who is just starting out will have to do some more research as to what packages have which features discussed in the book. Having said that, this keeps the focus of the book more on the human/people side of internet forums, and doesn't devolve in to a technical manual. I would have preferred a small feature comparison of the big forum systems out there, but I'm more of a technically-inclined person to begin with. If you're not technically inclined, you likely won't even notice the information not there.

Bottom line: if you're thinking of starting a web-based community, or have one and aren't sure how to manage it, this book is a must-have. It will save you weeks, if not months, of getting up to speed and being as effective as possible with your forums.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c8cf48) out of 5 stars A Great Resource for Forum Admins Aug. 1 2008
By M. Edwin Vaughan - Published on
Format: Paperback
Managing Online Forums is a great resource for both those starting out in the world of online forum management and seasoned veterans looking to improve and grow their online communities. The effectiveness of this book as a resource is founded upon three main strengths. The first of these is the author's experience and knowledge of the subject based upon years of administrating online forums. He knows what works and what doesn't. By tapping the author's knowledge, a forum manager can avoid wasting time and effort going in directions that are, ultimately, unfruitful. Instead, he can focus on only those things that are proven effective. Second, the book is organized in a logical sequence. It begins with suggestions on choosing a domain name and progresses through ideas on keeping an established forum interesting. Third, the book is effortless to read, avoiding technical jargon except when necessary. This effortlessness can transform into absorption, at times.

Ultimately, if you are interested in starting and running your own online community, Managing Online Forums is a great place to start. However, its usefulness does not end once a forum is up and running. As your community grows you will once again be able to reference the knowledge that exists in this book to further develop your community.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c8cfc0) out of 5 stars A Must-Have July 21 2008
By T. Hooper - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're considering to build your own online community or forum, then this is a must-read book. Patrick O'Keefe covers everything from how to start a forum to how to develop and police it. I particularly appreciated that much of this book covers managing people rather than technology. There are lots of other books on how to physically build a site, but this one goes into depth on how to build the actual community of the site. O'Keefe advices how to recruit new members to your site without spamming other sites, and also gives good advice on how to deal with difficult members by offering a lot of examples and how he handled it. You won't have to run a site to recognize some of the difficult types that he describes.

If you're going to start a forum or community site, or if you already have and you would like advice on how to manage the human side of running a site, then I recommend that you read this. If you're not, then I think you would still enjoy reading this. You'll find out how hard it is to run a site and you might appreciate those who do a little more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c8cd68) out of 5 stars Forum-Starters June 29 2008
By Juana Pacheco - Published on
Format: Paperback
After many failed attempts at starting an onlinr forum, I decided that I would start a forum about helping others start a forum. I did some reaserch on the subject and began the process. One of the resources I found during my reaserch phase was a forum called which was started by and is run by Patrick O'Keefe. The forum is bustling with activity and there is some very good information there. While on the forum I saw an advertisement for Patrick's book, Managing Online Forums. Of course I was inclined to by the book, which I did. While alot of the stuff descussed is very common sense, Patrick does get into some finer points and things I never knew about. This book is a must read for newbies and those of intermediate internet skills.

Patrick practically takes you by the hand and walks you through various scenarios in forum building. He also discusses the pro's and con's of using paid forum posting services. If you have attempted to start and maintain a success online forum but have been unable to, reading this book just may help you. Buying the book just for the list of resources he has added will make your purchase worth it.

I give this book two thumbs up, or five stars :)

Gilberto Cintron
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Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c934a4) out of 5 stars A Must-Have Resource for Community Managers Jan. 27 2009
By Suzie Cheel - Published on
Format: Paperback
My guess is that experienced community discussion board managers will skim this book to check out its scope, then focus on particular sections which address their immediate needs, and those just setting up a community will likely focus on the earlier chapters first and perhaps make use of the excellent templates provided for community discussion board owners.

A summary of this review is:

* the book incorporates a huge amount of information and speaks at every turn of the author's practical experience, over many years, in setting up and managing online communities

* it should prove an invaluable resource for anyone who is considering setting up an online forum or already managing one or more

* there are templates included, for guidelines and contact, which can be used and adapted freely

* advice on community software is restricted to vBulletin and phpBB but the principles and practices set out in the book can be applied more widely.

My frame of reference for the purposes of this review is as a participant in online forums for fifteen or more years, going back to the days when The WELL (which had started in the 1980s) was still pretty prominent and Compuserve Forums. I have also been and in some cases still am a member of various Listservs, Ryze groups, Ning groups, Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups, some of which have been run well to brilliantly, some of which have verged on or tipped over into anarchy. I am also founding moderator of the now 900 or so member forum, LinkedIn Bloggers.

My personal preference (bias if you will) is for groups to be well run and the discussion managed in a kind of "loose-tight" way that means you can spend your time online enjoyably and/or usefully and don't have to put up with nonsense and spamming.

From reading Managing Online Forums, I get the sense that the author too has a low level of tolerance for nonsense or spamming.

Managing Online Forums has a very readable, conversational style, which I found congenial. It would perhaps have been easier for the author to write more of a "shopping list" of things to do and not do, but I for one would probably have found such an approach not only boring to read but less than convincing. With Managing Online Forums I felt I was in the presence of a master, who had not only "been there, done that" but had reflected long and deeply on what works and what doesn't.

The sub-title promises that the book will provide Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards. I found that to be a somewhat over-ambitious claim - perhaps a bit of publisher hubris: the author himself makes it clear that some aspects won't be covered, for example technical issues.

Nor does the book have specific advice with regard to other popular platforms as Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups or MSN Groups - as is acknowledged also on page 2. There are huge numbers of forums on these and other platforms and it is inevitable that people managing communities on them will be looking for guidance, the specifics of which they will not find here. To provide one small example, as co-moderator of a group on Yahoo! Groups and requiring a specific identification detail for new members, I and my fellow moderators have found the interface for joining totally inadequate, with the result that we have to go to considerable effort to help people join. Information on this sort of dilemma is not to be found in Managing Online Forums.

Although, as mentioned above, the principles and practices in the book can be applied to these and other platforms.

Two chapters which I found particularly interesting, from a forum founder or moderator viewpoint, were those on guidelines (Chapter 3) and on "Banning Users and Dealing with Chaos" (Chapter 6). As an aside, from reading these chapters it does appear that Patrick O'Keefe as a forum manager has had more than his fair share of difficulty-creating people to deal with.

Complementing these chapters on guidelines and "dealing with chaos" is the set of general guideline and contact templates in Appendix B: Blank General Templates. I would love to have had these templates a few years ago when LinkedIn Bloggers was just getting going - and am looking now at what can be gleaned from them. Having guidelines in place and known to members makes it a much more straightforward task to deal with behavior that does not serve the community. I know it's a bit of a cliched expression, but the fact is that this set of templates alone is worth the price of the book and more - much more.

My main takeaway from reading Managing Online Forums was not so much about the mechanics of setting up or managing a community, but more about personality traits and character-building. It was pretty clear to me that if you are going to be a successful forum manager/community builder for the long haul, you'll need a blend of thick skin, sense of humor, respect for others, a sense of order and a determination to apply the rules firmly and fairly, without fear or favor. There is an excellent section on this, under the heading "What Skills and Characteristics Do You Need to Have?" at pages 14-16 in Chapter 1, Laying the Groundwork.

Overall, it is evident that Patrick knows his stuff: he has been building online communities for years and it shows. Anyone who wants to set up an online forum or already has one can learn from this book. Anyone who wants to know how to build a community online, can find plenty of guidance here. If you want to know how to deal effectively with troublemakers and wreckers, you may need some trial and error but there is a ton of practical advice here. If you want to know how to manage and lead staff (paid or volunteer), it's in the book.