I received an email from the CEO of a company who chooses to remain anonymous and this is how it shall be. What touched me about the gesture was the high compliments paid towards Cre8asiteforums.  Myself, the Moderating team and Cre8tive Community were all noted for their outstanding attitudes and for producing a welcoming web space.

With the buzz the past few weeks on high alert concerning reputation management, both company and personal, I’ve been giving his email lots of thought. I, the Moderators and Administrators, have periodically received thank you notes over the years. And of course, we’ve ticked people off who, for one reason or another, simply didn’t fit or understand what we wanted to create at the forums.

What makes it work there?

I ask myself this question all the time and still have no solid, one answer.

I can offer this small insight, however.

Recently, I started a thread where I ranted in anger about my old web host. They dumped me, with no warning and lots of accusations. They claimed I did something against their Terms of Service. I could prove I didn’t, but they refused to listen. They refused to return my phone calls. They forced me to move my web site and blog within 72 hours and there was nothing I could do about it. In my fury, I named this host in the thread, which is against our House Rules.

I knew it. I did it anyway. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Some of the Moderators and community members came to my side with support and time to not only help me find a new host and move, but also upgrade WordPress.  Meanwhile, one of my Site Admins privately PM’d me with a calm sanity check, and suggested, not ordered, but suggested I edit the thread to avoid slandering the offensive old host.

I listened to him, calmed down, and moved on to a new relationship with a new site host.

There are forums where the head honcho makes all the decisions and what they say is how it goes. We’ve never done it that way at Cre8asiteforums. The only staff who ever survive there are those who can tolerate having a voice and accepting decisions by consensus vote. It’s very hard to do it that way, but that’s how I wanted it because I view the forums as a group effort.

This means I have to listen and be willing to be told what to do or follow advice based on trust and the expertise of someone else.

In some forums and blogs, there is zero tolerance if someone comments and dares to disagree with the point of view of the blog owner or a community member. I’ve seen bloggers say one thing, but their actions are the complete opposite. I worry that I might do this and I wouldn’t like it. If I have a bad day or am feeling overly sensitive, I need to have the strength to step away from the keyboard, or have someone at my back.

I think this is one bit of advice that I rarely see. We are often successful not because of what we’ve done by ourselves, but as the result of someone watching our back for us.

This is someone who has the guts to tell us that we’ve overstepped our bounds, written something cruel, didn’t make sense, or in some way caused public pain to another. Granted, some people absolutely have no qualms about outing others, making people squirm, hurting feelings, having their say, getting the last word, needing to be right all the time, and not caring about the long term. What they feel is what is and if people disagree, that’s their problem.

I think there are two sides to every story and am willing to admit the right side isn’t mine because my experiences may be different. My conclusions are different. I want to hear other experiences. Who cares if I agree or not? For me, that’s not the point of sharing. It’s not a contest.

Many times someone will come to Cre8asiteforums to ask how they can start their own forums and what is the magic formula to make it successful?

I think if you start something as a way to carry on a one way dialog, you’re doomed from the start. If you’re willing to listen and have an open mind to ideas and suggestions that aren’t your own, you may be more likely to be respected because people will find you approachable and warm.

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)