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I recently wrote a post about the fact that community management comes with a new kind of stress.

It’s a different type of stress that many of us have not experienced in previous positions. There were quite a few interesting comments on that post and all were empathetic.

Emersondirect wrote: “The problem is, that your users have no such accountability and if they did, would not behave that way.”

Mark O. wrote: “I’ve been the Community Manager for Buzznet for a while now and I can’t even begin to list or explain the abuse I’ve gotten from people. Harassment, hundreds of angry emails, death threats, homophobic rants…”

And in reference to the various types of stress described in the post, Steph wrote: “I think you just described my life at the end there…”

That brings me to this. Today I received an e-mail from a user who called me the “n-word.” But it wasn’t just the n-word. After that, came the “b-word.” I guess she was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I am not blogging about this for sympathy because I don’t need it. I don’t need it because I give her words no power.

I’m blogging about this because it further indicates how far people will go under the cloak of anonymity. It also gives me the fuel to keep building my community because there are people out there, like this woman (who is masquerading as a man in the e-mail) who desperately want to see it fail and live to wreak havoc on the members who make it a good place.

Am I a little miffed? Somewhat. But, I’m more annoyed than anything. That isn’t something you expect to have to deal with or see, particularly in the workplace. But, life goes on, and I’ll continue to do what I do, and do it well.

Flickr community manager Heather Champ got it right when she said this: Being a community manager is like being a pinata. People beat you with sticks and you still have to give them candy.

I couldn’t agree more.

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It’s no secret that I believe strongly in taking time to engage your users in numerous ways.

From initiating small talk, to offering simple suggestions or a quick “kudos” and the occasional: “Have a great weekend,” the community looks for your feedback and values it a great deal.

So, in my quest to engage engage engage, I believe I found my personal limit.

It happened last night during the Vice-Presidential debate.

After hosting a successful live blog during the Presidential debate last Friday, I promised another one for the VP debate and promoted it much of the day.

What I didn’t realize is how much other interactivity I would be pulled into and how it would affect me overall.

It turns out that live blogging, text messaging, instant messaging and watching the debate while rubbing my young daughter’s back is a wicked combination, and one that I won’t likely repeat. (Sounds a bit crazy when you read it all doesn’t it?)

At any rate, everything turned out fine and people really enjoyed the blog, but I was a tad bit frazzled by the end and probably missed a great deal of the debate. Even the most skilled multi-taskers can’t catch everything.

So the point here is that we have to realize that we are not super-human and that it doesn’t take three simultaneous messaging platforms to be a good community manager.

What makes us good is the ability to be there for our community and provide experiences they will enjoy and want to experience over and over again.

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October 2008

Just so you know

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.


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