Articles tagged with: participation

Corporates and Comments

Another mind-bomb from the desk of Chris Brogan concerns Comment policies for corporations. Its a solid piece of experience and sharing – comments aren’t scary, users aren’t all looking to “dis” you, but you have to plan and have principles and rules to follow.

You might say, “let the chips fall where they may.” But the thing is this: the audience who’s chosen to engage with the blog isn’t there with carte blanche to do what they wish. This is a chosen engagement. This is a relationship point. It’s NOT the right place for every interaction with an organization. It’s a place.

Before moderation and defining which (sometimes poor) soul is going to have to read all the comments, a discussion around what is and is not acceptable needs to happen within the corp and between the corp and its agencies. Legal needs to be brought in EARLY AND OFTEN to give them context for the who/what/when/why and most importantly HOW of comments. Getting the legal team and the PR team and the Marketing kids all on the same page is critical. The Corporation has to identify where the “third rails” are: what opening up conversations actually means to the people who work there (morale is a currency), the industry press (comments can be valuable as well as fodder), and the users who will never comment, but who will read EACH AND EVERY ONE.

Once the context around comments is set, once legal completely understands and appreciates and is engaged (continuously, not consulted and then ignored), and the communications twins (Marketing and PR) are on-board, then you can set the rules and principles. Rules are hard and fast – no cussing, no racist stuff, no lies. Principles are guidelines that for keeping things moving and flowing: act like an adult, this is OUR space not YOUR space, don’t post in all-caps, Funny is better than funny and mean, let the thread die.

Part of this Rules/Principles exercise is to set what the community standards are for the space. This is what we will not allow. Everything else, these are the guidelines and standards of behavior.

The result of this needs to be the “rules of the sandbox” – for moderators AND the users. And it needs to be made clear to the users that comment, clear to the users that are old members of the community and CLEAR TO THE MODERATORS. And not in a EULA or TOS that will be checkboxed and ignored, but in some way that the users SEE what you BELIEVE. This sets the levels for all users of the commenting system. Keeps it clean and aboveboard, and most of all, lets users know where they stand, what will be permitted and why things are/were removed.

So turn comments on, moderate them, but first, clearly define your rules and principles, live by them, and apply them consistently.

The users (all of them) will appreciate it.

How NOT To Get The Most Out Of A Conference

Originally posted in the Project Dogfood Website. You should check it out

So you have decided to go to a conference. Maybe you got an invite in the mail or clicked on a banner. Maybe a blogger you like mentioned a show they were going to, or were speaking at, or even organizing (thanks @ChrisBrogan).

You drop some hard-earned cash (whether yours or your boss’) on a conference pass. You checked out the conference agenda, picking out the sessions and breakouts and BoF and parties you wanted to attend. You might have looked at the attendees list (if available), seeing who else in your industry, or region or field of interest is also attending.

With conferences now being net-casted on UStream, decks SlideShared, presentations LiveBlogged and Twittered and Utterli’d, why are you going? The content, the data, the decks, the presentations are all, for the most part available. Chris Pirillo, who runs Gnomedex, UStreams and the archives all of the sessions at Gnomedex. IT Conversations business model was the sharing of conference content (pay to get it right away or wait a couple weeks to download it).

The point of going to a conference is to meet people, to engage, to share your ideas not just consume someone else’s deck. Up until 14 years ago, there was an information imbalance between those who have the information about a subject or topic and those of us who wanted to know more. Conferences were meant to give people a chance to meet and share in real time and real space. Sure there were research papers, monographs, journals and books, but they were physical-world artifacts – you had to have them or have access to them.

It was gatherings/conferences/symposia that transformed affinity to community.

So here are my tips for How NOT to Get The Most Out Of A Conference:

1. Don’t approach this as YOUR Conference. You paid, you travelled to get there, you showed up, you are in attendance, and if you really dont want to get the most out of it, then good for you. You get out of it what you put into it… so give the bare minimum and get just that in return! Rock On!

2. Don’t spend the time to find out who else is going to your conference. Don’t use Summize to see who else is mentioning or going to the show (even though hashtags are wonky doesnt mean you cant track the #conference tag). Don’t check, the Conference website or the blogs of the speakers list. Don’t ping the people in your personal network who are also going. Dont make a list of people you want to meet at the show (I have a bunch of folks who I only know thru twtter that I want to meet at New Marketing Summit).

3. Don’t plan your conference experience. Spending time reviewing and understanding the agenda and looking at who is speaking and when is a great way to make sure you miss something you might enjoy or worse, NEED for your job/business/love of the game. Not preparing will result in lots of “session envy” when you find out how much more fun those guys in the other room had.

4. Don’t bother checking out the blogs and sites of the speakers… it helps you determine which are the sessions you want to attend and where the “gold” is at a given show, especially when you are at a multi-track conference – and no one wants that.

5. Don’t be a critical member of the audience. Don’t bother to ask yourself “is this a pitch” when looking at a conference agenda (at some shows the presenters are up there because their company is footing the bill for the mixer or coffee bar or SWAG bag). Be afraid to “vote with your feet” and walk out on a lame/boring/abusive session/speaker. God forbid you look impolite to people you wont bother to talk to.

6. Don’t participate. Don’t feel comfortable enough to ask questions. Be afraid to challenge the masters of the universe on the stage, especially when you disagree or they say something stupid. Make sure you put these folks on a pedestal, even though they are only human. Chris Brogan, Chris Pirillo and Dave McClure all put on some pretty incredible events and always take the time to talk to and appreciate the folks who show up. But you shouldnt approach them. Uh, uh. No way. Most importantly DONT thank or ask questions of the speakers/panelists after their session. They hate that (they dont want to be there either).

7. Don’t mingle. If you can get most of the content elswhere on the web in the comfort of your boxer shorts, why bother going to a show? Especially when 80% of the experience at a conference is the PEOPLE. Don’t spend time in the hallways between sessions. Don’t walk the floor, meeting people, introducing yourself. Don’t make small talk, trade business cards, join BoF discussions. If at all possible, spend as much time at a conference checking your email, answering voicemail messages, polishing your camera lenses and downloading music from iTunes. DO NOT, under any circumstances try to talk to anyone.

If you DONT want to get the most out of your conference experience, then follow the simple tips above. If you WANT to get the most out of the conference, do the exact opposite:

Prepare for the show, read the agenda, pick your sessions, get to know the speakers blogs, ask questions, talk to people, take notes and share them via your own blog and twitter/utterli/etc…

If you really want a black-belt in Conference-Fu, keep an eye out for the wallflowers and shy folks who are keeping to themselves or aren’t going out of their comfort zone- and introduce yourself/say “hi”/introduce them to someone else. Pay it forward.

Take ownership of your conference experience. And plan to have some fun.