It's been a while since I've had a moment to write the newsletter. It's not that I was bored or had nothing to say about community. Life was just happening…. And also being created. I've often taken comfort in the idea that "God laughs at those who make plans." You have to go with the flow, and the past three weeks have been a real test.
So here's the latest from my corner of the world. My wife and I welcomed a little bundle of joy on March 29th. We kept most of it a secret from many as it was a journey to get here which saw a lot of unhappy endings. We wanted to be sure this time. Emma, our precious daughter, is a testament to our not giving up and the power of hope.
We brought her home on March 31st and were only a couple of days into our parenthood journey when a massive ice storm hit our neck of the woods. In our town, 99% of folks lost power. We would not have power for almost 100 hours.
During the power outage, I saw the power of community show up. The local radio station became a center for the community to collectively share advice and support one another. Neighbours checked on one another, and I made new friends only steps away from my house. A local Facebook group and Nextdoor were essential tools at this time. The community saved the day, kept us informed, and our spirits high.
My wife and daughter took refuge at my in-laws as I kept the house secure. Unfortunately, it was cold, and there was a risk of burst or frozen pipes. And sadly, there were reports of people being robbed. Evil sadly never rests.
I bundled up in layers, created a fire at night to stay warm and kept my ears on the radio for the latest updates. I took breaks during the day to see my wife and daughter and get a welcomed warm meal with hot tea.
This whole ordeal also happened on the first night of Passover, so a fridge full of food was also binned. Certainly will be one for the memory books.
However, out of the ordeal came a renewed thankfulness of the creature comforts, some of which most of us likely take for granted. We got power back late Easter Sunday, and I permanently welcomed my wife and daughter home. I couldn't give them enough kisses.
And if you can imagine, during all this, my quest to find my next role came to an end! As many know, I was laid off during the great Tech Layoff of 2023. For the past three months, I did countless interviews and spent hours wondering and waiting to find out what's next. I was unsure about my next role and how much community would be part of it. I now know.
I'll be sharing this with you all shortly, but what I can say now is that it's a fantastic opportunity with a leadership team with whom I am entirely aligned. Their care, compassion, family-first values and mission in supporting community professionals made the decision easy. I can't wait to share more next week. I think it's best served by its own edition next week. Stay tuned - and if you can't wait - keep an eye on my LinkedIn next week.
Phew - I told you it was a crazy three weeks, and hence why there was no newsletter! However, have no fear; the regular cadence will return! Now onto some thought about the latest in community….
I hope you don't mind the personal update I shared above - being open is the only way I know how to be. Also, while in the dark, I had some thoughts on the latest scourge - community AI spam - and wanted to share my take with you.
I don't believe anyone fully saw the potential of forum spam being powered by AI. It's a “new” battle community managers now face, and we have started to see some conversations around the topic.
However, I don't see this as a “new” problem. From what I've seen, it's an old problem with new technology. Sure, the spam posts seem less disjointed- but their goal of self-promotion remains.
Also, classic enterprise forum software already has solutions to these problems. Let me share with you those features I would leverage if my community were being AI spam bombed:
Flood control: This classic feature limits how many discussions and comments a person can add in a defined time. If you see major spam issues, tighten the flood control to avoid overwhelming your community. Most folks don't need to create three or more discussions within 30 minutes. It comes down to testing to find the proper levels.
Edit Time: Most spammers use a technique where they will put what looks like legit content only to come back and edit to add spam links. Some will trickily change a period to be a clickable HTML link. One solution is to ensure new members cannot change their content once published. Only trusted folks can have access to modify things after. I have always loved this feature in Vanilla.
Keyword block/ranks: leverage your platform to block spam or trigger words for manual review. Use the platform ranking system to assign more trust as people like a person's content.
Leverage StopForumSpam: this is an excellent service where people share the IP and usernames of spammers. Most platforms have it as a plug-in you can adjust to ensure known spammers don't even get to post without moderator review.
Remember, just like old-school automated spamming, the most important thing to remember is to use automated solutions to combat the problem. Don't fall into the trap of moderating every post or shutting down the forum. This is a last resort. Most forum platforms have solutions to mitigate or identify issues. If you need help with what to do, they should be able to assist you with the proper configuration.
I hope you enjoyed this edition, and I look forward to sharing even more news next week!
Here’s to your continued success!
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Congrats on the little one and the new role!
Congratulations on little Emma! 😊 Happy to hear everyone's safe now.
I also have to say: I am so looking forward to knowing where you're going to be working. Congratulations on the company who dazzled and hired you ;) They're lucky.