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This is exactly what nearly 5,000 members (or should I say “former” members) of the website BeautifulPeople.com were told after packing on the pounds during the holidays, according to a story on CNN.com.

Founder, Robert Hintze states in the article that they “mourn the loss of any member,” but that his community demands a high standard of beauty.

“Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded,” he told CNN.com.

While my initial reaction included a smidgen of outrage, it soon faded because you know what? The community belongs to the members, and if they don’t want so-called “fatties” it is certainly their prerogative.

The good news is, these members will have a chance to redeem themselves once they lose the weight as characterized here:

“We responded to complaints by moving the newly chubby members back to the rating stage. This is the same as having them re-apply.” That comment comes from Greg Hodge, managing director of BeautifulPeople.com.

While I do find this a bit amusing I think there’s a lesson here about online communities. It’s one that I truly believe in. The community will develop its own culture and the members who are vested will work to keep that culture. It was the members after all who flagged these fatties.

Why?

Because like it or not, they care about what their community stands for.

And in this case, its beautiful people who can clearly exercise self-control around the holidays.

(This post originally appeared on the blog, SiliconAngle, where I am a regular contributor)

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On several occasions I’ve shared with you one of the most popular franchises I created and continue to produce in my online community. What I do is interview members over the phone and then transcribe the conversation into a blog post. People love it.

Well, one day last year, members of the community were asked to turn the tables on me by a co-worker and they submitted their questions they’d like to have me answer. I answered them all and again, the community loved it.

I just realized that I never shared that with you and I think it is something you may want to consider in the future. Sharing a bit more of yourself with the community always makes it easier for them to share more of themselves.  If you’re interested in the 47 comments posted, here is the original interview.  But I’m also posting the entire interview below. Warning: Some of the screen names are a bit wild.  Enjoy!

 

Well, since you decided to go behind my back with the help of  web editor, Kelly H. with a sneak attack and force me to do my own profile, I suppose I had no choice but to succumb. And since it would be a bit odd to introduce myself in the third person, I won’t.  So, without further adieu, here are the answers to some of your questions. Enjoy!

Bosoxbaby: How in the world do you put up with some of the attitudes on here day in and day out?

Angela: I really don’t know. I guess I have a high tolerance for “crazy.”

 

Meh_whatever: I’d like to hear more about Angela’s history prior to coming to GOLO. What sort of jobs she’s held, etc.

Angela: I’ve worked in newsrooms my entire career. I started out in Cleveland, Ohio where I was an assignment editor at the CBS turned Fox station and Planning Editor at the NBC affiliate. I then moved to Tampa and worked at WFLA as an assignment manager. After that I worked at WPTV in West Palm Beach and then moved to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel where I was a broadcast producer and ultimately managed all of our media partnerships and served as multimedia editor.

 

Prayergirl: Do you read ALL of the blog posts everyday?

Angela: I could never get through them all but I do read a great deal. I suppose there are days when I read about 90% of them though.  It really depends on my workload, what other projects I’m working on and how much administrative stuff I have to deal with.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t sit on the GOLO homepage all day waiting for the latest posts. I will look at something if a person points it out though. And I do have to read those that are reported as abuse.

 

Mythoughts22: When you read racial comments does it bother you?

Angela: What bothers me most about those types of comments is the fact that the person behind the comment is probably raising children. I mastered the art of not caring much about what others say about me a long time ago. Particularly when I know it’s not true.

 

Beauty Comes from within: Did you know this was what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Angela: I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I love to write and research and I can never ask enough questions.  There was an anchorwoman in Detroit, where I grew up whom I admired a great deal. I thought she seemed so smart and I wanted to be like her. She’s still on the air.

 

Kewlmom: What is your criteria for screening comments? Do you try to keep people from being offended, or do you simply look for cursing/public attacks?

Angela: I try to be fair and adhere to our guidelines. But oftentimes I do it based on what my gut tells me.  I know that many will beg to differ, but it’s tough.

 

BlaBlah: How do you keep sane, Angela?

Angela: Why do you think I’m sane?

 

Rocknhorse: OK, here’s my question: We know by your comments and the job you do here that you are very dedicated to both your family and your job. But sometimes everyone needs those “ME” moments. What do you do for yourself that keeps you grounded and at peace?

Angela: I enjoy bubble baths and I love to read. Put the two together and I’m good for at least a day.

 

Historians_13th: Tell us about the report you wrote on Ella Fitzgerald in the fourth grade, and what it  meant to you then and now?

Angela: I don’t remember the details 100%, but listening to my grandfather talk about her and mimic  her singing and dancing was quite the treat.

 

Sue Donym: If you could have dinner with any famous person past or present, whom would you choose and why?

Angela: Past: Harriet Tubman. I’d like to understand that kind of determination and perseverance. Also (and this might sound a little crazy) Adolf Hitler. I once interviewed three Holocaust survivors for a story I was producing and the way they recounted their experiences has stuck with me since. If I could talk with him in a controlled environment where it was impossible for him to kill me, I’d like to get to the root of all of that hate. Present: Oprah Winfrey and Tom Brokaw. Oh, and maybe Alice Walker. Love The Color Purple. Okay, one more…George Washington Carver. I’d like to know how the heck he got so involved with the peanut.

 

Deer Slayer: Do you like venison?

Angela: I’ve never had it. Does it taste like chicken?

 

Squirrelingdervish: If the Mothership flew down and picked up one Golo’er and took them off forever, who would you pick?

Angela: It already came and got him.  But a few more trips would be welcome.

 

Godbless: When you started this, did you have any idea it would be as successful as it is? Or were you thinking this was temporary?

Angela: I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m pleased, but I’d like to see it grow exponentially. I keep a notepad in my passenger’s seat because I’m always flooded with ideas. My mind runs a mile a minute.

Full_Decker: What are some features that you feel would benefit GOLO even more?

Angela: It’s not so much the features. Those are easy. More members. More distinct voices. Active participation from the majority of the members. I’d like to see GOLO filled with invaluable content.

 

GoldenLvr: I would like to know what job you would like to move up to in the WRAL family after you finally go insane babysitting all us Golo’ers. By the way, Kelly is a cutie!
Angela: I’m not sure where my career will lead me. Hopefully to some amazing job that doesn’t yet exist.  Oh, and I’ll be sure to let her parents know you think they did a good job.
Sweet Rose: I’d like to know more about her growing up … where she was from … how she came to be in NC … how does she like the area.

Angela: I’m from Detroit. Most of my family is still there. I left for college at 17 and never went back there to live. I visit often. I enjoy NC so far, but I’m still learning. The verdict is still out on whether or not this is home for good. I don’t think I’ve lived here long enough to make that assessment.

 

Sue Donym: What advice will you give your daughters when they get old enough to start playing on sites such as golo?

Angela: Be smart, and use common sense.

 

Tarheel Army Mom: What kind of meds do you have to take to manage GOLO? 😀

Angela: I believe that’s classified information.

 

Sue Donym: It is clear that your work entails MUCH more than simply moderating golo comments. What are some of the other responsibilities you have as part of your job?

Angela: Well, I am responsible for all things GOLO and all things generated by our users for GOLO and WRAL.com.  I also hire, train and supervise the moderators. I interact with users a great deal so a large part of my responsibility is communicating with people. I manage the Pet Page on WRAL.com and make decisions about a lot of other projects. I am called on to incorporate community into our products.  There’s so much more…but I’ll stop there.

 

Rabid_Wolf_3: When I talked to you at the outing, you told me that your lawyer got you off of a triple murder charge after you spent 12 years in a maximum security prison, on a technicality! Can I have that lawyers name?
I really can’t believe they called you ‘Cell Block Momma A’ either . . .
Did you really make the warden cry?
I know, I know . . . rabid_wolf_4 . . .

Angela: Go talk to Tarheel Army Mom about getting some meds. You need them more than I do.

 

Nauticagirl501: How many children do you have?

Angela: Two girls. And they are fabulous!

 

Patty002: Angela, why do some of the blogs get through with offensive words and some don’t?

Angela: I can’t see everything. That’s the answer.

 

Iluvwilmy: How much does WRAL pay you? I would love to be a co-editor of Golo. Golo as a job? How awesome would that be?!

Angela: There are two things you never ask a person. When the baby is due, and how much money they make. Remember that.

 

Chill0913: Angela, if you and rabid_wolf? were driving in a car having a debate and he wanted to get out, whould you A: slow down and pull over, ask him to calm down, close door and continue your route. or B: Pull over slow down some when he opens the door shove his behind out and proceed on with your business?
LOL…Personally, I’m prone for option B. LOL

Angela: I would be hesitant to get in a car with him.

 

Con Amor: Angela… Does anyone in your family GOLO? …. Do you ever GOLO under a different profile? …. Do you secretly enjoy looking at the juicey hott hunk blogs that I post before they get pulled for being too hott?(hahahahahahahaha!)

Angela: No. I would never go incognito. My ethics won’t allow. No family members on GOLO. I plead the 5th on the hunks question.

 

NCMomof3: Angela, I think you do an awesome job referring, mediating, and just plain babysitting us characters on GOLO. Are there times where you have to sit back, take a deep breath, count to 10, then go outside and scream anyway?

Angela: Yes.

 

Made in USA: Angela… What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction and what part of your job do you dislike the most?

Angela: Making a difference is extremely satisfying to me. If I tell you what I dislike the most, I will be exposed and vulnerable. I don’t want to be either.

 

Steve Crisp: How much does Canada weigh?

Angela: I thought you knew everything. That’s what your profile says.

 

Javajoe: To our dearest, most tolerant Mother-of-GOLO, Angela — what’s your biggest, worst, skin-crawlingest, nerve-splittingest pet peeve?

Angela: The sight of chewed gum. YUCK! And please, NEVER read over my shoulder.

 

Halyard: If you only had ONE chance, what person, living or dead, would you like to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with?

Angela: My father. He died when I was 16. I’d love another chance to talk to him.

 

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You probably know by now that in every online community, there will be highly popular, influential members. Sometimes their star rises quickly and they can become a very important part of your strategy. They morph into a high-profile, go-to member who seems quite vested in the community and displays a great deal of ownership. This type of member can be a community manager’s dream.

When this type of member take on too much ownership, there can be trouble.

If you start to depend on them too much or place them on a pedestal believing that their intentions are always pure, there could be even more trouble.
This may or may not happen because there are many factors to consider and so much depends on their specific personality traits. But it might happen, and you need to be ready.

If an influential community member starts creating havoc, they must be dealt with and you cannot be swayed by their status. If they become a dominant, larger-than-life force throwing their weight around at others expense, you have to do something.

This person could be your very first member. They could be the ultimate creator of content and have hundreds or even thousands of friends. People might get upset if they believe he or she is being ousted. And, this person and/or their die-hard followers may even turn against you in a very public manner.

Remember those essential skills for community managers I wrote about a few months back? This is when they come into play. This is when you need to have a thick skin, make a decision and move on.
Sure, you can try to reason with them. And most community managers will give you several ideas on how you should go about doing this.  I agree that you should do what you can to salvage the relationship and keep the member without compromising your integrity.

If it doesn’t work, let them go. You will live to see another day. Trust me. I did.

This is just one of the lessons I’ve learned while doing this job called community management. Many think it’s glamorous and all fun, games and kumbaya. It isn’t.
When you’re in the trenches of this work, you learn quickly that there may not be a right answer and you learn as you go.

That is why I write this blog. It is documentation of the fact that I learn as I go. That is why I appreciate everyone who sends me emails saying how much they appreciate what I share and how my strategies are working for them for them.

I will continue to share my lessons learned and even more so as part of a new project series specifically for community managers. If you want to know more about it, sign up on my book website and you’ll be one of the first to learn about this new endeavor.

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When a person dies, family members go to great lengths to fill their obituaries with the most important aspects of their lives. They go as far back as their memories will take them, dredging up every great thing their loved one has ever done, and in some cases great things they didn’t do.

Career success and various other accomplishments are highlighted, along with their passions, hobbies and details of a very rich family life.

What you might not expect to come across in an obituary is mention of their involvement in an online community. Well, I came across that very thing a few weeks ago, and I was stunned.

Do you remember a recent post where I discussed the death of a member of my community? He was one of the first 100 members, joining the day after we launched, on July 3, 2007…a date that is etched on his profile page.

The community meant a lot to this member and he was liked by many. His family knew this, and they honored his active participation and involvement in the community by mentioning it in his obituary not once, but twice. It was brought to my attention by another member, who had attended his funeral with several others who knew him from the blogs and live chats on the site.

This is something I won’t soon forget. I have a copy of it in my office. It is a true testament to the power of community. Communities can change lives and make a real difference whether we acknowledge it or not.

I am proud to have grown a community that could register high enough in a person’s life to be celebrated in his death.

Don’t underestimate the power of community.

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Are you feeding your Twitter stream into Friendfeed? Do you ever LOG IN to Friendfeed to see what people are saying about those tweets?

Well, in case you didn’t know, there are people on Friendfeed commenting on your tweets and if you aren’t talking back to them you are missing a great opportunity to build your community.

With twitter becoming so mainstream people are flocking to Friendfeed in droves. So the days of leaving your FriendFeed to its own devices as a location to cull your many RSS feeds, are over. Well, they should be over, starting today.

Pay attention to your FriendFeed and join the conversations. I have been commenting and “liking” tweets, photos, links, Brightkite status updates, YouTube videos, Picasa photo albums, you name it! Someone could be commenting about your blogpost on Friendfeed and you may not even know it.

So go back and see exactly what you’ve got streaming into your Friendfeed account, and start taking action. Just like you check for @responses on Twitter, or use services like Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, Tweetbeep and others to follow the conversation, you need to check the conversation on Friendfeed regarding those tweets as well.

If you don’t you’ll continue to miss out, because as I always say…communicating with your community is key.

You can find me as @communitygirl on both platforms.

Hope to see you there.

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I’m always talking about engaging your community. I find it a key aspect of growing an online community. If you don’t show your human side and interact with the people who spend so much of their time in your space, you’re not tapping into its potential.

Blogging about it is good and I hope you find it helpful, but sometimes showing is better. So, here is a list of all of my public exchanges with GOLO members from Monday and Tuesday of this week. It does not include various email exchanges or time spent in the chat area discussing issues and seeking feedback. Some of the comments may be a bit out of context because I was responding to a question or request, but the goal is to give you a few ideas.

  • Oh it will be fine! I’ll e-mail you when I get in so we can coordinate a good time. Good morning, BTW. I’m making lunches. Always like to check in and see what’s happening in the am hours. Later, -Angela…
  • Hi. We need to schedule your profile. My calendar is filling up quickly. How’s tomorrow?
  • If you’re inundated with e-mails–create filters and rules that send them to different mailboxes. That’s the only way I stay sane. -Angela
  • Tomorrow at 2:30. Send me a good number for you to aconnor@cbcnewmedia.com. -Angela
    Jan. 5, 2009
  • Hey there GOLO Animal Lovers group! I just posted two new NCSU pet clinical trials in need of dogs with osteoarthritis. Don’t know if you know any, but thought I’d pass it along. You can find the two latest here: http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/pets/asset_gallery/2427471/ -Angela
  • Powerful post today! -Angela
    Jan. 5 4:32 p.m.
  • Welcome to GOLO, Martin. There are a lot of good people here. We care about our members. Please feel free to blog about your feelings or other issues related to what’s going on. You’ll be surprised by…
  • Congrats on that BEAUTIFUL baby! Thanks for sharing on GOLO! -Angela
    Today at 9:31 a.m.
  • So you’re going to compete with GOLO chat now? Just ask me to open it, mister! 🙂
  • BTW– thanks to ALL of you who do keep it clean in GOLO chat! I greatly appreciate it. Off to a 1030 meeting…
  • Hey Sandra: What’s the latest on your first Blog for hope? Were all the items taken?
  • Welcome back Lady!
  • Welcome to GOLO ! -Angela
  • Hi there Arthur! Your blogs will show up on the short list in a few days. You have to be a member for a little longer before your blogs show up on the most recent list on the homepage, though they do show up on the most recent list on the homepage, though they do show up on the longer list you get by selecting “show more.” Hope that helps. -Angela
  • That is a great gallery of Jayda and Creech. I posted it on the WRAL.com pet page. -Angela
  • I see you’re at the top of the popular list today! Happy New Year. -Angela
  • Done. My best to your uncle! -Angela
  • Hi Gina: Thanks for the compliment! Believe it or not, I do my own hair. I only go to a professional to get it trimmed or cut into a new style.
  • NM-Yes. I second that. LOL!
  • Want me to call her? J/K! Good luck. You know that GOLO will help you do what’s right. I agree with everyone here that you have a good heart.
  • Hi there, I want to tell you personally that I removed your blog. Not because of the content for which you are responsible, but for the comments which you are not. You may not see this as fair so that is why I wanted to reach out to you personally. The comments were way way out of hand and there is no place for all of that on GOLO. -Angela

I hope you found that helpful.

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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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