Top positive review
worth reading, but not all-inclusive
on March 20, 2012
This book is about managing community forums, not the technical skills like programming, customization, or control panels. You don't need to have any specific technical knowledge to be able to manage a community effectively, and this book does a decent job of teaching you the steps and issues from initial decision making to monetizing after your community is off the ground. In many senses, this book is very thorough. It goes through very minute details that someone considering forum management needs to know before the start, once they have the forum created, through promotion, managing people, and eventually how to monetize it so it's self-sustaining or profitable.
While the book technically discusses all of these topics in detail, it doesn't always go through each in enough thoroughness that someone without any experience would understand. For instance, in the second chapter the author has a small paragraph of whether or not to start with staff. This paragraph basically states that if you want to or if you have people willing to help seed content for your community, you should go for it. Then when the community takes off you can keep these initial seeders on as moderators, because that obviously makes sense. Where's the discussion of how much it's going to cost to start with "staff" at the very beginning of your community?
Cost is actually one area where I think this book does poorly. Early on the author lists a cost consideration of maintaining the community between launch and the ability of monetization. As an experienced leader with multiple communities existing online, multiple launches, and multiple opportunities to learn the intricate details of initial and maintenance costs, the author has no figures for any of the things someone is supposed to "take into consideration." Without that first hand experience, how is someone supposed to know what is acceptable or average for domains, basic hosting, setting up the website, any customizations (that don't assume free board + free hacks), and scaling to accommodate growth?
Certainly the most valuable thing is the author's experience. This does come through in some very opinionated examples throughout the book. He's not afraid to go against [common] knowledge if it means the forum will run more smoothly and the administrators will have to do less work for the same, positive results.
tl;dr: this book is valuable for the level of detail each topic is given and the personal experience of the author, but the reader will still have to do a lot research into setting the initial community up because the book is somewhat software agnostic.