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Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards Paperback – April 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"... 'Managing Online Forums' is a worthwhile book to buy and absorb. There are TONS of great resources in there, and lots of real world examples for you to follow. This alone makes the book a great resource to have on the shelf."- Chris Brogan

"Within 20 minutes, I was on page 70. Perhaps it was my interest in the topic, perhaps O'Keefe's writing style. Whatever the reason, the book (at just over 300 pages) was a quick and easy read, chock full of great information, advice and examples and left me feeling like I should give online forum management a try.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about the writing style is that it isn't written from the perspective of a haughty expert peppering you with polysyllabic words and ethereal Internet philosophy. O'Keefe has something to say and he says it, plain and simple." - Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer

"I think the timing for this book is great. With so much emphasis on social media, a lot of people are jumping into the fray and discovering that managing people in a community setting isn't easy. I think Patrick's done a great job of getting to the real, practical issues and questions that arise and how to deal with them responsibly." - Lee LeFever, Common Craft

"The level of detail in this book is startling, with a glossary, and an entire section of templates that you can use to craft content posting policies, and communicate with members and staff in a variety of situations (some uncomfortable). If you or your company run an online forum this is an invaluable reference, and you'll come back to it with great regularity as situations arise that require its counsel."- Jay Baer, Convince & Convert

Book Description

Every day, millions of users log on to their favorite online forums and interact with others to get advice and discuss everything from the latest news and trends to their hobbies, professions, and whatever else strikes their fancy. Admin­istrators have to lead these communities, deal with difficult users, and choose moderators. Legal constraints, spammers, and technical issues can turn the excitement of running an online community into chaos. With the right guidance, however, running forums can be a pleasure. Patrick O’Keefe has spent years developing and managing online communities. Now, he shows readers how to make the right decisions about every aspect of their forums, including:

• choosing a name and domain name

• picking the right software

• deciding on user options like avatars and private messaging

• setting guidelines and dealing with violators

• ensuring that posts stay on topic

• settling online disputes among users

• involving users and keeping the site interesting

Managing Online Forums is the one book that shows site owners and administrators how to create a safe and entertaining community that users will return to again and again.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081440197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814401972
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick O'Keefe is the founder of the iFroggy Network, a publisher of websites. He has been managing online communities since 2000 and is the author of "Managing Online Forums," a practical guide to managing online communities and social spaces. He has been responsible for the creation and cultivation of communities like and He blogs about online community at

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. Kimsal on April 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I had the opportunity to read through this book over the last week, and I'm just floored by how much good information it's got in it. This book is years of Patrick's experiences running successful forums (22 forums now, I believe!) and all the tips, tricks and wisdom he's picked up during those years. I ran a moderately successful forum years ago, and would have saved myself months of headache and heartache had I the information in this book at my fingertips back then.

The book is definitely opinionated - these are Patrick's recommendations based on his experiences, and it shows. His voice is natural, and the wording is down to earth. This isn't some theoretical treatise, but a 'from the trenches' view of what works, what doesn't, and why.

The book includes many sample forms which have example language to use for welcoming members to your forum, working with moderators, dealing with abusive or disruptive visitors, and much more. They're all available on the book's website too, so you don't need to retype it all in, but can quickly customize them to fit your own needs .

The one thing lacking in this book is that it doesn't go in to much detail about the major forum packages out there, so the reader who is just starting out will have to do some more research as to what packages have which features discussed in the book. Having said that, this keeps the focus of the book more on the human/people side of internet forums, and doesn't devolve in to a technical manual. I would have preferred a small feature comparison of the big forum systems out there, but I'm more of a technically-inclined person to begin with. If you're not technically inclined, you likely won't even notice the information not there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Edwin Vaughan on August 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Managing Online Forums is a great resource for both those starting out in the world of online forum management and seasoned veterans looking to improve and grow their online communities. The effectiveness of this book as a resource is founded upon three main strengths. The first of these is the author's experience and knowledge of the subject based upon years of administrating online forums. He knows what works and what doesn't. By tapping the author's knowledge, a forum manager can avoid wasting time and effort going in directions that are, ultimately, unfruitful. Instead, he can focus on only those things that are proven effective. Second, the book is organized in a logical sequence. It begins with suggestions on choosing a domain name and progresses through ideas on keeping an established forum interesting. Third, the book is effortless to read, avoiding technical jargon except when necessary. This effortlessness can transform into absorption, at times.

Ultimately, if you are interested in starting and running your own online community, Managing Online Forums is a great place to start. However, its usefulness does not end once a forum is up and running. As your community grows you will once again be able to reference the knowledge that exists in this book to further develop your community.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're considering to build your own online community or forum, then this is a must-read book. Patrick O'Keefe covers everything from how to start a forum to how to develop and police it. I particularly appreciated that much of this book covers managing people rather than technology. There are lots of other books on how to physically build a site, but this one goes into depth on how to build the actual community of the site. O'Keefe advices how to recruit new members to your site without spamming other sites, and also gives good advice on how to deal with difficult members by offering a lot of examples and how he handled it. You won't have to run a site to recognize some of the difficult types that he describes.

If you're going to start a forum or community site, or if you already have and you would like advice on how to manage the human side of running a site, then I recommend that you read this. If you're not, then I think you would still enjoy reading this. You'll find out how hard it is to run a site and you might appreciate those who do a little more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suzie Cheel on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
My guess is that experienced community discussion board managers will skim this book to check out its scope, then focus on particular sections which address their immediate needs, and those just setting up a community will likely focus on the earlier chapters first and perhaps make use of the excellent templates provided for community discussion board owners.

A summary of this review is:

* the book incorporates a huge amount of information and speaks at every turn of the author's practical experience, over many years, in setting up and managing online communities

* it should prove an invaluable resource for anyone who is considering setting up an online forum or already managing one or more

* there are templates included, for guidelines and contact, which can be used and adapted freely

* advice on community software is restricted to vBulletin and phpBB but the principles and practices set out in the book can be applied more widely.

My frame of reference for the purposes of this review is as a participant in online forums for fifteen or more years, going back to the days when The WELL (which had started in the 1980s) was still pretty prominent and Compuserve Forums. I have also been and in some cases still am a member of various Listservs, Ryze groups, Ning groups, Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups, some of which have been run well to brilliantly, some of which have verged on or tipped over into anarchy. I am also founding moderator of the now 900 or so member forum, LinkedIn Bloggers.
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