Issue 6
Welcome to the sixth issue of conduit. We are pleased to bring you another issue, and hope that you will find the information contained within enjoyable and useful. We want to also take this time to welcome our new subscribers -- thank you for joining the list.
We wish everyone a very happy and safe Holiday Season.
Quote for this Issue: "Nothing great was ever accomplished by something happening to you. You have to happen to something."

- Brandon Iurato
US corporate sales trainer & President of his Toastmasters International club in New Jersey.
In this issue of conduit:
1) Featured Question and Answer: "Finding Community Resources for Moderators?"
2) Community Wire: Cool Interview with Derek M. Powazek, author of Design for Community.
3) Community Voice: "We interrupt this program to bring you a commercial message." -The Problem of Spam on Message Boards.
4Community News You Can Use: "Keeping Your Child Safe on the Intenet."
Featured Question and Answer
We received a really great question from someone who was interested in finding resources for moderators. The question was posed as follows:

"You answered where communities go to find message board moderators. I am wondering where the message board moderators go to find the communities. Are there specific newsgroups out there? I haven't found them, but would love to find one."

To view's suggestions, please visit "Finding Community Resources for Moderators?".

Please do not forget to check our searchable archive of past question and answers.

Community Wire

Community Answers had the pleasure to e-mail interview Derek M. Powazek, author of the Design for Community. Derek, we thank you for sharing your thoughts and time with us!
CommunityAnswers: Derek, tell us a bit about yourself. Give us a brief run-down of a day in the life of Derek M. Powazek.

Derek Powazek: I live and work in a hundred year-old funky San Francisco apartment, located in a natural center of weirdness otherwise known as Cole Valley. I'm surrounded by one cat, two dogs, dozens of house plants, and a community of eccentrics, freelancers, and working stiffs.

Basically, I feel right at home.

Community Answers: How did you get started in your career and why?

Derek Powazek: I've always been strongly visual and communicative, so the web was a natural fit for me. I graduated from college with a degree in photojournalism (more words and pictures!) in 1995 - just in the nick of time to move to San Francisco and get caught in the whirlpool of the dotcom explosion. It was the first time in my life I was actually in the rightplace at the right time.

Community Answers: You have just written and published a great book on designing community, what motivated you to do so?

Derek Powazek: I think the web has given us all a tremendous gift. It's a little subversive - after fifty years of authoritarian, top-down media (tv, radio, newspaper) that don't care what you have to say, websites with community features give us all the ability to speak our minds to a global audience. That's power, and like any power, it can be used for good or evil. I wanted to pass along some of the lessons I've learned the hard way to help people build positive community interactions, and encourage them to do so.

That, and the life-long desire to see the word "Powazek" on the spine of a book.

Community Answers: What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

Derek Powazek: Disconnecting. It's ironic that, to write this book about networked digital communities, I had to distance myself from the very network that inspired it in the first place. I wrote half the book in my corner coffee shop, where I had no choice than to be disconnected from the net. It's just too distracting for a guy like me - there are always sites to visit, email to read, conversations to participate in.

Community Answers: What has been your most memorable community building experience?

Derek Powazek: {fray}, without a doubt. {fray} is a storytelling website I started at back in '96, and the community that formed around it has taught me much of what's in Design for Community. It's also been my pride and joy.

If I had to select a "most memorable" moment, it would have to be in September when community members came out from behind their monitors to celebrate Fray Day 5 ( Over a thousand people in ten cities attended storytelling events in real time, making the transition from virtual to real, proving that who we are online and who we are in real life aren't that different after all.

Community Answers: What has been your most frustrating experience?

Derek Powazek: Lately, it's been watching all my friends lose their jobs here in San Francisco and all over the world. Work is tough for everyone right now, myself included, and I can only hope that the actions of a hysterical stock market and a few lunatic business plans haven't overshadowed the real advances that the internet and the web have ushered in, and the staggering potential that remains.

Community Answers: If you could give three pearls of wisdom to someone interested in building community what would your advice be?

Derek Powazek: 1. Content! Conversations need to be about something. Give your users something to talk about and they'll reward you with better conversations.

2. Substance. Remember that your users have a million places to talk online. It's your job to give them something they can't get anywhere else.

3. Connection. Make your site easier to get around, interlinking the content and community, and conversations will blossom.

Community Answers: What do you see as the future of web-based communities?

Derek Powazek: I see them going away completely, replaced by the understanding that every one of us is a member, to varying degrees, of many overlapping communities, each of which has pieces that are located in virtual and real places. Multimedia (meaning, literally, many types of media) community functionality will be built into so many devices (from phones to computers to, well, anything digital and networked) that community participation on many levels will become just a normal part of everyday life.

Personally, I can't wait.

Please do feel free to visit Derek's site, Design for Community.

If you wish to submit an article or comment to be featured within conduit's CommunityWire,  please do so by using our online submission form.

Community Voice
"We interrupt this program to bring you a commercial message." -The Problem of Spam on Message Boards.
Imagine you are having a conversation with a friend and a complete stranger interrupts to interject with a random comment of their own regarding themselves and what they do. They walk off leaving you thinking "What the....?"

Sounds implausible doesn't it?  Well, it happens in some senses online.  Just recently we were approached by a company offering a "unique method economically and professionally converting a PC into personal message distribution center!".  In short, their service allowed you to post your web site URL and message to many thousands of message board forums in an automated fashion.

We understand the need to promote web sites and the need to get "word out".  It's fundamental that we all do that and imperative when it comes to business generation. Targeted and relevant promotions are crucial to ensure you get the traffic you might need. Although more time-consuming, there are ways to promote yourself to other web sites which have integrity, value, and relevance.

However, in this instance our analogy of a blatantly interrupted conversation comes into play. No automated service can truly target forums which are genuinely relevent. Neither can it be said that true quality control be exercised in the sense that your web site address will be seen by appropriate consumers nor even be located in places that YOU'd like to be seen in.  Much like the often seen promises to submit your web site address to 500,000 directories, one has to question how much quality positioning this actually represents. Most likely, not much.

On the other hand, if you are a community site owner or moderator then such messages are a headache. It is a waste of time and resources to remove such "spam", because that is what these messages basically are. Ask any moderator what they think of such postings and their response is usually the same - that the messages are draining both in terms of time and patience, and detract from the more productive and enjoyable aspects of community.

Most of your visitors will also be annoyed if there are blatantly commercial and unrelated postings - it interrupts the flow of genuine conversation and prevents your community from truly functioning as well as it might, particularly if such the spam messages get out of control.

There's no easy way to remove spam from communities, aside from not encouraging it in the first place.  A general and wide-spread feeling that spam is not welcome since it causes problems for all in one way or another is the only way it can truly be quashed.

If you are considering taking advantage of such offers and spam someone else's message boards, then perhaps it's worth pondering this:  if your money and the information you provide allows you to do so, then who's to say that it won't come full circle back to you in the form of someone else spamming your boards in return?

As always, we welcome your
thoughts and contributions on this issue!

Community News You Can Use
UK Government Launches Online Safety Initiative

The UK Government has launched a 1.5m advertising campaign to help parents explain the potential dangers of internet chat rooms to their children. Adverts which will appear in national newspapers and magazines send out a positive message for community developers: "Paedophiles are dangerous - not internet chat rooms".

The government estimates about five million British children have access to the internet and chatrooms. For more information, The Home Office's Internet Task Force on Child Protection, responsible for looking into internet safety, publishes its reports at;

You can contribute to and gain valuable insights by asking a question right now:

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