Effective Strategies for Forum Moderation

by Dave Cayem, VP Delphi Forums

Cross-posted from the ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business of Forums and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 13. 

The good folks that run ForumCon have asked me to lead a session on forum moderation.

My session is entitled “Effective Strategies for Forum Moderation,” and we’ll be focusing on ways to keep the peace in your forum.

When resolving sticky situations in online communities, it’s vitally important to choose your words with care. When you can’t convey your meaning with body language or facial expressions, it’s easy for your words to be misconstrued. That’s especially true when communicating with an angry member. So I’ll be sharing some of the language I always turn to in these situations, and asking session participants to share their ideas.

We’ll also spend some time talking about forum rules. Forum rules are a tricky topic, because few visitors take the time to read them. But when a forum member starts causing trouble, you still need a set of rules that you can point to when calling out an infraction. Forum rules are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The topic, membership, and sensibilities of the forum should dictate what the rules are. But there are still some concepts that apply to any forum, and we’ll discuss them.

There are certain types of people that seem to turn up in any forum. There are helpful types, troublesome types, and those that are merely an annoyance. I’ll talk about the five types of people I often see in online communities, and I’ll ask the group to share stories about forum participants they’ve run into.

We’ll also open up the conversation and swap stories about difficult situations we’ve faced in our forums, and discuss how we resolved them.

Finally, I’ll be sharing the online community management resources I turn to for advice and ideas, and asking the group to share theirs.

Are there topics related to forum moderation and management you think we ought to include in this session? Do you have any questions that we can answer during the session? Please join the conversation via #ForumCon, the official twitter @ForumCon, via their Facebook page, or add your thoughts below.

ForumCon: The Good Stuff

A few weeks ago, we posted the slides from the opening statements made by our CEO Oliver Roup at ForumCon. Today, we’re excited to share with you a few videos taken of actual ForumCon panels and speakers.  Some great points were brought up surrounding several topics, so go ahead and check them out!


Verticalized Social Networks: Online Influencers that Savvy Marketers Covet

Speaker: Dan Gill, Founder & CEO of Huddler


How to Create, Curate & Put Great Content to Use

Speaker: Tyler Tanaka, VP of Development for PostRelease


More to come in the next few days!

ForumCon 2012: The Presentation Slides

We’re still hard at work packaging up the video presentations from ForumCon, but in the meantime, we’ve compiled speakers’ slides for those of you that have been asking.

In order of their presentation…

Oliver Roup | VigLink | Welcome + VigLink Update

View more presentations from VigLink

Kris Jones | KBJ Capital | Make More By Ranking Higher on Google

Jamie Vondruska | Vortex Media Group | How I Scaled My Forum

View more presentations from VigLink

Dan Gill | Huddler | Vertical Social Networks

View more presentations from VigLink

Joe Rosenblum | Internet Brands | Getting to One Billion Forum MAUs

View more presentations from VigLink

Tyler Tanaka | PostRelease | Creating, Curating, and Putting Great Content to Use

View more presentations from VigLink

Neal Sainani | Internet Brands | Zero to Mobile in 60 Seconds

View more presentations from VigLink

VigLink Announces Double the Merchant Coverage. vBulletin Unveils vB5 Connect. Chooses VigLink for Content Monetization. ForumCon 2012 is a Wrap.

Ten sessions, three ground breaking product announcements, twenty-five speakers, two-hundred attendees, hundreds of cups of coffee (and hundreds of cocktails) later, ForumCon 2012 is a wrap.

We’ll be sharing all the pictures, presentations and interviews from the event with you in the next couple of days, but didn’t want to wait any longer to share the three pieces of news that came out of ForumCon: vBulletin premiered their first product release in 2+ years, selected VigLink exclusively for content monetization, and we announced that our merchant coverage is now double that of any competitor. We now monetize traffic to 30,000+ merchants!

Here’s the blow-by-blow of how each of the announcements went down.

vBulletin 5 Connect Makes its World Debut

The morning kicked off a little bit early with a special event for both press and attendees: the unveiling of vBulletin 5 Connect.

While a press release with a few key details went out on the wire just as John McGanty, General Manager of Internet Brands took to the stage, the audience was certainly anxious for a more detailed overview. John’s preview definitely delivered, and we saw what vB5 Connect had to offer:

  • Sleek new UI with extensive social integration
  • Category-leading mobile optimization
  • Simplified site set up, customization and management
  • New core architecture for improved search, better performance and easier modifications
  • Dynamic tools for content discovery
  • Expanded photo and video sharing capabilities

In total, there are 125 new features and enhancements in vBulletin 5 Connect.  And the audience was buzzing throughout the rest of the day about which they were most excited for:

vBulletin Chooses VigLink for Content Monetization

One of the enhancements available in vB5 Connect is VigLink content monetization available out-of-the-box. With the upcoming release, vBulletin will be replacing its previous content monetization solution with VigLink.

Bambi Francisco of Vator News chatted with both John McGanty of Internet Brands and Oliver Roup, our Founder & CEO, on Monday evening and shared details on the partnership early Tuesday morning in the lead up to the formal announcement.

And after the dust had settled, Murray Newlands, an advisor to VigLink and correspondent for Performance Marketing Insider caught up with Joe Rosenblum, CTO for Internet Brands, for his thoughts on the newly announced partnership (check it out below).

We’ll be sharing more detail on the partnership as the vB5 release date nears, but are happy to announce now that we’ll be offering both current and new VigLink users a 5% revenue bonus when they upgrade to vB5 (more detail in Oliver’s full presentation at the bottom of this post).

VigLink Announces Double the Merchant Coverage

After vBulletin’s press session wrapped, Oliver formally kicked off the day with a few ForumCon updates, and also a pretty big announcement: VigLink now monetizes traffic to over 30,000 merchant sites.

Over the last six months, we’ve been hard at work forging a set of relationships that not only represent double the merchant coverage of any competitor, but will also deliver higher payouts for our publishers than any other entity can.

The end result: using VigLink is easier than ever (thanks to partnerships like that of vBulletin) and we’re not only earning you more than ever, but more than anyone else.

If you’re interested, you can check out Oliver’s full presentation below. And be on the lookout for full video and the rest of the presentation decks very soon!

The Best is Yet to Come

The section title here is a homage to our concluding panel of the day, focused on the future of forums (video to come!). The VigLink team had such a great time spending the day with so many of our users, partners, and other industry leaders yesterday — and we are beyond excited for next year. The best, really is, yet to come.

ForumCon 2012 is 48 Hours Away!

ForumCon 2012: San Francisco is less than 48 hours away!  To get you ready for Tuesday’s event, take a few minutes to check out the final agenda below, and then catch up on some of the newest episodes of ForumCon TV below (and be sure to be on the lookout for Tyler, Winter and Chad at the actual event).

Excited to see many of you on Tuesday morning!

The ForumCon Agenda

Know what’s happening when by downloading a copy of the final agenda here.

ForumCon TV: Q&A with Tyler Tanaka of PostRelease

ForumCon TV: Q&A with Winter Wong of Tapatalk

ForumCon TV: Q&A with Chad Billmyer of Enthusify

[ForumCon Latest] vBulletin to Unveil Its Newest Version, Internet Brands’ CTO to Lead Session on Growth

Okay, so we are officially pumped for ForumCon June 12th!  In addition to sessions on SEO, social media, community management, monetization, and content creation — we’ve just made two exciting additions to the schedule of events for the day of ForumCon.

First | vBulletin to Unveil its Next Version at ForumCon

The next version of vBulletin will be launched later this year. It will entail a next-generation forum product with a modernized community experience. The product will provide increasing social functionality, improving content management and streamlining site set-up and administration.

The worldwide introduction of the new version of vBulletin will be made at a special press event at ForumCon, just before the kick off of the day’s formal agenda.  Media, developers, and forum owners that are interested in a first look at the newest product can arrive early for the event which will kick off at 8:15am.

Also, vBulletin will be extending a $25 discount to all ForumCon attendees that are interested in purchasing the newest version when it is formally released!  Be on the lookout for your unique discount code in your registration packet you receive upon arrival.

Second | Internet Brands’ CTO, Joe Rosenblum, to Lead a Session on Growth and Getting to One Billion Forum MAUs

Executives from the parent company of vBulletin will draw on experience from operating over 200 forum sites to explain the trends, tools, and technologies that are driving the next wave of forum growth. Specific areas to be discussed include why 2012 is a great time to start a forum, why Google Panda is an SEO best friend to forum sites, how forums can leverage Facebook to attract more users than it draws away, vital considerations for forums serving mobile visitors, key ways forums need to change, and how they should stay the same.

See you in San Francisco June 12th! Haven’t gotten your ticket yet? RSVP here

Hyperlinks are Dumb and Bleeding Money; How to Ensure Yours Aren’t

The article below originally appeared on TechCrunch as a guest post by Oliver Roup, VigLink Founder & CEO. 

When an email hits our inbox, we know not only who it’s from but their entire web imprint. LinkedIn canpoint out the profile of the woman you interviewed for a sales role last week and the gentleman you spoke with earlier in the year at a conference.

And rest assured that the dining room set you checked out over the weekend at CrateAndBarrel.com will haunt your online experience for the forseeable future.

Data — its collection and manipulation at scale — has revolutionized how we interact online. Homepages, banner advertisements and what we see in our Facebook timeline are all tailored-to-fit the reader, and we don’t give it a second thought.

But the hyperlink, the key feature that distinguishes hypertext from text has remained largely unchanged since Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web.

Websites generally, and search and online advertising specifically, would be barely recognizable today by their younger selves. But hyperlinks — their structure, how they’re authored and how we use and track them — have barely changed in 20 years. Consider:

  • Inserting links by hand is a labor intensive process and has few tools. How about a recommendation engine to augment our own efforts? (Note: companies like Zemanta are a first step in this direction.)
  • If a link is never clicked (i.e. 0% of the world finds it useful), why does it remain in content, distracting from meaningful / useful links indefinitely?
  • Keywords in referrer logs have been mined to great effect by companies like BlueKai. (Although Google is slowly but surely taking that information away.) Isn’t where a user clicked out to just as informative? Why are we almost always ignoring it?
  • Why do website visitors in Asia see links to online merchants in North America they are unable to purchase from, let alone access?

Hyperlinks, in many ways, are dumb. And as a result, harming your user experience and potentially bleeding money from your company — when they could be a tool for better engagement, increased revenue, and deeper analytics.

Now, there are a cluster of companies innovating by recognizing the power of the link — OmnitureVibrant Media and Yieldbot, to name a few. But, this isn’t a problem companies can hold off on thinking about until the perfect tech pops up to solve it. There was a time when SEO was considered a “pro-tip” — a way for startups to get ahead of the game. Today, it’s standard best practice — and companies that don’t think strategically about the way search engines view their sites are at a strong disadvantage.

Hyperlink optimization is similar. While link optimization might be a “pro-tip” now, it won’t be for much longer. Companies that aren’t thinking strategically about link placement, closely tracking results, and taking subsequent action, will find the companies that ARE doing these things at an advantage.

The most critical areas to spend time on are tracking outbound hyperlinks, building a linking strategy, and refining it based on results. Let’s briefly dive into each.

Track your Outbound Hyperlinks

The first step to optimizing a site’s outbound traffic is to understand what that traffic looks like. Where do visitors go when they leave your site? What do they do on those other sites?

While there is still a lot of room for growth within the outbound analytics space, Omniture (paid) and Google Analytics (free — but requires a modification to the standard Analytics code you add to your site) both offer tools to help you understand what happens when a reader leaves your site. VigLink (disclosure: I am the CEO there) also offers an outbound analytics suite as part of its content monetization solution.

Build a Hyperlinking Strategy

What do you want your outbound hyperlinks to do for you?

Do you want them to earn you revenue? Do you want them to serve an SEO purpose? Be purely informational? Should they be scarce (keeping readers on your site)? Or abundant (allowing readers to exit as it is helpful)?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a plan for when your team includes a hyperlink, and when it does not — opening up opportunities for a better reader experience, and deeper engagement.

Refine, Refine, Refine

Combine a plan with data to track that plan’s performance and you’ve got a gold mine on your hands.  Notice a link that is never clicked and your plan requires that links must be useful to readers? Take it out. Or, a heavy percentage of links pointing to non-eCommerce properties, and your goal is monetization? Incorporate fewer links to those non-commercial sites. Refining your hyperlinks will improve reader engagement and overall site performance.

Do It, and Make the Web Better

Hyperlinks should make the web better — more connected, easier to navigate, and intelligent. Hyperlinks should make your site better — more actionable, insightful and profitable.

Today, hyperlinks are falling short. They’re static and largely untracked. Sometimes useful — but often not. As the web becomes ever more crowded, and an organization’s site optimization toolkit begins to produce diminishing returns, the hyperlink is obvious low hanging fruit.

What that means to site owners:

  • It’s time to plug the outbound data leak. Implement a tool today that will track your outbound traffic.
  • Choose a hyperlinking strategy and share it with your team. This is at least as much a human problem as a technology one – deciding what you want is always the first step.
  • Be on the lookout for technology that addresses these issues. There are already solutions to track your outbound clicks and the value they deliver but 2012 is going to be the year the hyperlink gets smart.

Missed a ForumCon TV Episode? Catch Up In Time for ForumCon SF.

Getting excited for ForumCon San Francisco June 12th? We can’t believe we are less than a month away!

As we are putting the final touches on the agenda for this year, we thought we’d share some of the most recent episodes of ForumCon TV with you. They’re an easy way to catch up with some of our previous speakers, and new names to be on the lookout for this year. Check all of the episodes out in their entirety below.

ForumCon TV Episode 6: Barry Chertov of WaccoBB.net on Getting Started

ForumCon TV Episode 5: Steve Dodd of BoardReader on How Conversations are Shifting within Forums

ForumCon TV Episode 4: Chris Saad of Echo on the Future of Forums

ForumCon TV Episode 3: Julia Barret of eBay on the Value of Forums & Communities

Financing, Growing, & Monetizing Forums: ForumCon Chicago Highlights

A bit overdue, but better late than never! With ForumCon San Francisco less than 60 days away (are you as excited as we are?) we wanted to share a few of the video highlights from the previous conference.

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to grab your ticket.

Financing & Exit Opportunities for Forum Companies

In this fireside chat with Jeremy Liew, Managing Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Oliver Roup, Founder & CEO of VigLink, asks how a forum can go about raising capital, and when it makes sense to do so.

3 Users Walk Into a Bar

Three users walk into a bar: search visitors, n00bs and power users. In this presentation Dan Gill, Co-Founder & CEO of Huddler, discusses how to think about the user experience in each of these scenarios and how to think about monetization when it comes to each of your sites’ unique audiences.

Performance Marketing From an Advertiser’s Perspective

JJ McCarthy, Global Director of the eBay Partner Network, shares an inside look at how eBay approaches performance marketing.

A Closer Look at the Affiliate Nexus Tax

As affiliate nexus taxes are being enacted in more states, online merchants and forum owners are increasingly facing a number of business challenges and difficult decisions. In this panel discussion, experts on both sides of the issue weigh in on the key issues, and share how their respective companies are managing the issue.

Real-Time Content Marketing

Content marketing continues to gain momentum. In this presentation Tyler Tanaka, VP of Business Development at PostRelease, will discuss why brands and agencies are gravitating towards content marketing, and the content marketing tactics you can leverage to help grow your own community and it’s brand.

Making your Forum Mobile

Michael Wechsler of TheLaw.com shares how forum owners can make their forum mobile seamlessly and painlessly.

Affiliate Marketing for Forums

More than likely you are already doing the obvious when it comes to monetizing your forum (running banner ads and perhaps Google AdSense). Intuitively, these kinds of ad models are easy to easy understand. They “sell” pieces of white space on your site.

In this panel, we’ll discuss one of the more technically difficult and often misunderstood monetization options available to forum owners: affiliate marketing. Four experts in the affiliate marketing space will discuss best practices and answer your questions.

Future of Forums

Many refer to forums as the “original social network” — they were bringing individuals together en masse long before Facebook, MySpace or Twitter did. In a space that has already covered so much ground, what’s next? In this panel four forum & community experts will discuss the trends they anticipate sticking, which will likely subside and the overall direction they see the forum space moving in.

Future of Publishing: Affiliate Networks, Tracking, and Optimization

Thanks to Ad:Tech SF — and having lots of familiar faces in town — we were able to squeeze in a few additional episodes of Future of Publishing this month. Below is one of the “bonus” episodes that touches on affiliate marketing and how networks operate.

Check out the 3 part series below, and then read on to meet the guests!

Part 1: What is Affiliate Marketing and How Can I Make Money?

Part 2: What’s the Relationship Between SEO & Affiliate Marketing?

Part 3: What Lies Ahead for Affiliate Marketing?

Meet the Guests

Bret Grow | President & Co-Founder | LinkTrust Systems

Bret Grow is a co-founder and the president of LinkTrust Systems. Bret’s interest in creating an affiliate management and tracking platform began with his own need when Bret was working to build an ad network with Frank Ouimette in 2002. As their network evolved, the requirements for tracking also changed. In his search for a platform, Bret realized that he and Frank had the understanding and skill set to build their own tracking software that was more robust than any of the options on the market.

LinkTrust is widely recognized by affiliates, networks and merchants as the most reliable, accurate platform with the best customer service. This reputation has been built over time through Bret’s tenacity in creating collaborative relationships with customers and building a team of employees that shares Bret’s vision of going the extra mile to take care of LinkTrust clients.

Gary Warnes | Director of Client Services | Rakuten LinkShare

Gary has several years of experience in account management and team leadership roles at agencies covering retail, technology and entertainment.  At Rakuten LinkShare he currently manages a team of account managers who run some of the largest, most successful affiliate programs in the industry.  He also spent some time working at Yahoo and was the Director of Marketing at Ebates.

Phillip Kidwell | Director, Business Development | eHealth

Phillip Kidwell is Director of Business Development for Mountain View, CA based eHealthInsurance, the leading online source for individual and family health insurance. He built the affiliate program for the company in 2001. Phillip is an active member in the affiliate marketing community and co-founder of the Bay Area Affiliate Managers Coalition (baamc.org). In 2004 he was recognized with the Commission Junction Horizon Award for People / Relationship Building. Phillip has also been mentioned as an expert in his field in publications such as Inc. Magazine and Harper Business Book, “Go It Alone” By Yale Faculty Fellow Bruce Judson. Prior to eHealthInsurance, Kidwell managed a partner marketing campaign between World Championship Wrestling, Capital One Bank and MasterCard. He holds a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Houston.