Photobucket Just Damaged Millions (Billions?) of Posts in Online Communities

Many online communities do not allow members to upload images to include in their posts. In such cases, members often rely on third party image hosting services. Among the most popular of these, for a long time, has been Photobucket.

But last month, Photobucket made a change. After 14 years of allowing people to upload images for free and embed them within posts on online communities, in blogs and on websites – they stopped. Without notice. Immediately, quite possibly billions of images across the web broke, and were replaced with what some have compared to a ransom note, imploring people to pay if they want their image to be displayed. The price: $39.99 a month or $399.99 a year.

This has led to widespread media coverage and criticism, much of it coming from online communities impacted by the change. Former MetaFilter director of operations Jessamyn West, who recently participated in a community-led effort to migrate from one image sharing service to another, joins the show, alongside copyright expert Jonathan Bailey, to sift through this story and what online communities should take away from it. Including:

  • Why Photobucket’s rollout of this change guaranteed people would leave their service
  • How online communities can respond to situations like this
  • What copyright implications community owners should be aware of

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Facebook Doesn’t Protect Black Children, But They Did Add “Community” to Their Mission Statement, So…

There has been a lot of talk in the community industry about the Facebook Communities Summit, and how the company announced they had added the word “community” to their mission statement. I’ve seen a lot of “rah rah” from people saying how important this is for our work.

Less than a week after that event, ProPublica published leaked Facebook moderator training materials that, in no uncertain terms, said that the platform protects “white men,” but not “black children.” The deafening silence in the industry, as compared to the noise about Facebook adding a word to their mission statement, has been incredible.

For a critical look at these issues, we changed the format of Community Signal for the first time ever, putting together a panel of previous guests, who are veterans of the industry: Scott Moore of Digital Promise Global and Venessa Paech of Australia Post. Among our topics:

  • What adding “community” to Facebook’s mission statement actually means
  • How the announced Facebook Groups improvements impact their viability as a tool
  • The glaring problems with Facebook’s leaked moderation training documents

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Why You Should Befriend Your Competitors

In May of 2001, I launched a martial arts community with a focus on respectful discussion and a generally family friendly atmosphere. The very next month, Bob Hubbard did the exact same thing. From an outward perspective, you might label us competitors and expect us to dislike each other.

But we developed a friendship based upon mutual respect, which allowed us to compare notes and share knowledge around common challenges. On this episode, we discuss the benefits of being friendly with those managing “competing” communities. Plus:

  • Community “brigading,” or coordinated attacks meant to disrupt an online community
  • The threats that we received running communities where, more often than not, the members have been taught a form of physical combat
  • How Bob approached selling his forum

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Threats to Civil Discourse Online

It feels like the quality of discourse in the United States, and many other countries, gets worse every single day. Especially political discourse. But in online community settings, it is possible to identify the the threads to civil discourse and neutralize them.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) gives tools and tactics to elected officials, the media and the public, in an effort to help everyone engage in a more civil way. NICD director of social media Tracey Todd joins the show to discuss a series of common threats to civil discourse, and how we might approach them. Plus:

  • The impact of Donald Trump on discourse
  • Has civility become a buzzword used by those who aren’t actually civil?
  • Where Tracey finds optimism in discourse right now

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Facebook’s Wake-Up Call for Jive and Enterprise Social Networks

Six and a half years ago, Kim England, global community director at multinational publishing and education company Pearson, led the company’s transition from a disjointed collection of more than 130 intranets, to an enterprise social network (ESN) powered by Jive.

Recently, she said that Facebook’s move into the ESN space “should act as a wake-up call to Jive that they need to put collaboration and conversation back at the heart of their product.” Kim joins the show to talk about the current state of ESNs and what’s missing. Plus:

  • The recent $462 million dollar acquisition of Jive and what it means for customers like Pearson
  • What will determine the “winners and losers” in the ESN space over the next few years
  • How well-connected ESNs help companies make better decisions across cultures, globally

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GoDaddy’s Community Move

When GoDaddy hired Christopher Carfi at the start of 2014, it caught my attention. GoDaddy was a company that, at one time, I thought I would never want to be a customer of. I didn’t like the brand, didn’t like marketing, didn’t like upselling, didn’t like the old CEO.

But after Blake Irving was hired as CEO, I noticed positive change. That was nice, but they still didn’t have my business. When they hired Christopher, it caught my eye because here was an experienced community mind that I respected joining a company I once didn’t.

I watched their continued cultural shift and their embrace of community. Through 5+ years of solid work, GoDaddy has washed away that old perspective I had and, somehow, they won me over, where my previous registrar, Enom, had neglected me. I am now a GoDaddy customer. Christopher joins the show to talk about this shift, plus:

  • What community means in a world where we’re interacting with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • How community fits into content marketing
  • The things we can learn from Burning Man, which Christopher is a veteran of

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Are Associations Being Taken Advantage Of?

There’s a lot of money in the association space, especially when it comes to helping associations connect their members online. The biggest example of this might be the recent Community Brands merger, bringing together three software companies that collectively serve more than 13,000 associations and nonprofits.

Association veteran Maggie McGray recently sounded the alarm on a big problem: Associations themselves, especially small staff associations, are the ones left holding the bag right now. Association software companies and consultants, including those from the community space who saw the money, might be doing well, but small staff associations are highly vulnerable to unexpected costs.

Many of them don’t even have one full-time person focusing on their online community and membership efforts, let alone have development resources or space in their budget after already investing in these expensive software solutions, and often training, consultants and conferences to go with it. Are associations being taken advantage of, and taken for granted? We discuss:

  • The lack of in-house community and association talent at association software vendors, as compared to their large sales teams
  • Software vendors who used to pitch their solutions as an all-in-one that are now backing away from that
  • What association management software companies should do from here

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Fighting for Community Buy-In at The Economist

All community professionals want to work at organizations where they have the buy-in to deeply invest in community. But many of us don’t. We’re fighting for that buy-in, so the true value of community can be realized.

That’s what Denise Law, community editor at The Economist, is doing right now. She recognizes that their onsite community efforts are “in dire need of attention,” and is building a case for it, for those who can’t see the point and are resistant to change. She joins the show to discuss these efforts. Plus:

  • Why Denise doesn’t want to simply close up shop and shift all engagement to third party platforms
  • How social media experiments could help her case
  • What her ideal scenario looks like

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Cultural Anthropology and Online Communities

“The branch of anthropology concerned with the study of human societies and cultures and their development.” That’s cultural anthropology, per Oxford.

Elizabeth Koenig┬áhas a degree in cultural anthropology. She’s also an account manager at The Social Element (formerly Emoderation), where she manages teams of moderators and community engagement specialists that scale based upon client needs. We talk about how cultural anthropology applies to online communities. Plus:

  • What happens when companies rely on automated moderation too much
  • How to motivate community pros to invest in client communities when they don’t choose the clients
  • Why The Social Element, a company powered by a remote workforce, has a strong workplace community

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Moving the News Industry From Clickbait to Community

According to our guest on this episode, much of the news industry is engaged in a battle they can’t win, a fight over eyeballs and ad revenue with companies like Google and Facebook, where the terms will get worse and worse as time goes by.

The answer? Community. By building a community that values the work that they create, they can wrestle back some of the control over their audience and receive support directly from the people who consume and appreciate the product they are creating.

Andrew Losowsky is the project lead of The Coral Project, a collaboration between Mozilla, The New York Times and The Washington Post, that is helping news organizations build better communities and more loyal readers through tools, research and strategy. Among our topics:

  • Forcing a layer of community over traditional journalism vs. providing newsrooms with a cogent plan
  • Why they are building Talk, an open source comments platform
  • Are news organizations better served by hiring another reporter… or a community pro?

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