Friday, 29 August 2008

On David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff now has his own social network - Hoffspace.

Apparently it already has 14,000 members.

This is unfair.

Maybe we should employ a celebrity.

Steve Guttenberg is appearing as Baron Hardup in the Bromley panto this year.
I might try and sound him out about joining us.

Q. How do you know when you've got a real online community going?

A. They start writing poems about each other?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Linked In: At last! something to do!

I've managed a group on LinkedIn for ages but - like much else there - haven't managed to find a way to let the members do anything other than join it.

But it seems that this will change:

This Friday, we will be adding several much-requested features to your group:

  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members. (You can turn discussions off in your management control panel if you like.)
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive. (We will be turning digests on for all current group members soon, and prompting them to set to their own preference.)
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.
About time!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Hoisting comments

I'm always on the lookout for ways of rewarding users by recognising their content in some way. Our community sites make a point of highlighting the most interesting photos, blog posts, forums etc.

Turns out we are missing a trick by not doing the same thing with comments and apparently it's called "hoisting comments". Like it.

Flicking through the back-story

The Online Journalism Blog draws my attention to a very cute new tool on CNN which lets users browse back through previous items relating to a news story.

For an example, take a look at this Anthrax story on CNN.

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism
Originally uploaded by b_d_solis
A pretty and useful diagram of social media. Great for generating ideas for tools you can use.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Periodic Table of Videos

I LOVE this.

The University of Nottingham (no, stick with me) has created a video on each of the elements in the Periodic Table (I suppose technically that's poor English as there aren't any out of it).

Anyhoo. I love it because:

  • It's fun
  • It's addictive
  • It's interesting
  • It has a natural scope (all of the elements)
  • It is not news - it is information and hence will not age so rapidly.
  • It has its own site and its own YouTube channel to maximise exposure
  • The YouTube channel uses playlists in an intelligent way (e.g. Group XIII Elements)
If all of our markets could come up with a similarly "encyclopaedic" idea we would be laughing.

In the meantime: Here is the most watched video: Sodium.

The 10 Commandments of the Social Web

Essential reading from Nick O'Neill over at Social Times.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Comments on articles - desirable bar the undesirables

As Adam reports, we had an interesting exchange yesterday about journalists' discomfort with comments on articles.

Part of this discomfort is almost certainly a reaction to the unfamiliarity of being so exposed to criticism and/or feedback. I am reminded of Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington's first foray into blogging. Because he's Michael Billington and because they could, people laid into him and one can imagine the poor man's confidence being justifiably shaken by the whole thing.

As Adam points out, the problem for national newspapers' online audience is that they are not and can never be communities.

I hope that Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik won't mind me borrowing their famous and beautiful explanation (right) for bad behaviour.

Anyway, I hope that for most of the journalists the shock will pass and they will harden up. I vividly remember the first angry comment I received on a blog of mine and how shaken I was. But what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger (although it sometimes crushes you actually).

Anyway, the point of this post (at last!) is to reflect on what can be done - not only for the sake of the poor journalists but also for the visitor and the brand.

Et voila! Powazek offers 10 Ways Newspapers Can Improve Comments

  1. Require Accounts
  2. Set and Enforce Rules
  3. Employ a Community Manager
  4. Sculpt the Input
  5. Empower the Community to Help
  6. Link Stories to Comments
  7. Enable Private Communication
  8. Participate …
  9. … But Don’t Feed the Trolls
  10. Give Up Control
Now, I don't quite agree quite with all of these because I don't think newspaper websites are or can be communities.

But the comments underneath the post give some fantastic additional insights which I utterly agree with. For example
  • Do not give any truck to users who are unable to distinguish between "freedom of speech" and the freedom to be an offensive arsehole on someone else's website (I'm paraphrasing with that one)
And these recommendations from Robin Hamman:
  • a clearly defined purpose for hosting the discussion
  • a clearly defined set of rules - and staff or super-users empowered to use them
I think these are key. I really don't think publishers need to do so much hand-wringing about democratising comment. It's not a community; it's a website; it's their website. It may be interactive, it may be a "social medium" by virtue of the interactivity, but it's not a community.

It's your website. Set firm but fair rules about conduct and deal with transgressors of the rules firmly and fairly.