Sadder days as a Community Manager

灯籠流し Lantern floatingImage by kamoda via Flickr

I've done Community Management for a long time. In the beginning (not to sound like a hipster) I was managing a community before companies were paying people to manage their online communities. My management style hasn't changed since day one.  My fundamental philosophy of Community Management is "Love your Community."  

 For 99.9999999% of all situations, this is the most rewarding part of Community Management is having community members that you're friends with, that you care about and can connect with.  Twice during my Community Management, I've experienced something that I'll hopefully not experience again. 

This week I've been remembering two young men that died much earlier than they should have.  They were both members of communities that I was managing and both times, I cried. Coworkers and friends couldn't understand why I cried over people who I only knew digitally.  I had problems putting it into words, I still do.

 I often wonder how other Community Managers deal with this issue?  Not just Community Managers, but anyone with a digital life.  How do you deal with the death of an online friend, some one who you shared a friendship with online but not in real life? Have you ever done anything for them in their memories?  

I'd really like to hear what you have to say!  Leave a comment or give me a shout out on twitter: @tia_marie

Opening new chapters

Nearly two years ago, I started on a roller coaster ride in startup land at Justin.tv.  I became employee #7 (or so) of a small startup team comprised of four founders, a developer and a designer.  Even though I had worked in the startup world prior to JTV, nothing at those previous startups prepared me for the overwhelming passion, frustration, excitement and sadness of a startup company. 

At Justin.tv, the developers worked hard and were damned smart too.  That was exactly what I was looking for.  This may sound silly, but the thing that attracted me the most to Justin.tv wasn't the product and it wasn't the community, what attracted me was the raw talent in the dev team.  

It was a complete rush to work with developers that my friends admired and respected. To see challenges being met and new problems being solved by bright and eager minds.  My coworkers around me worked round the clock and part of it was the "make or break" environment of a startup, but most of it was their excitement for the challenge.  Hard problems were being tackled like scaling and cache invalidation.  I could honestly see the developers enjoying themselves taking on exciting projects and solving these hard problems.

I was completely enraptured with my job and quickly the community became quite endearing to me.  The most pleasing thing about my work at JTV was working and fostering a small community from nearly scratch.  The community left quite the impression upon me and I can only hope that I'm leaving something behind for them as well.

In the early days, one-to-one communication was easy.  There was a small community of frequent users and they were all quite friendly and open, I took on a team of wonderful volunteer admins (site moderators) who held a special passion for Justin.tv and a zeal to help make things better.  These admins taught me a lot and I'm certainly going to miss working with them.

I was very fortunate to have an early community of such dedicated users who were eager to help out where they could.  I never said thank you enough to them, but I always was exceptionally thankful for everything they did. I also found a group of very awesome gamers.  The Justin.tv gaming community is quite possibly my favourite online community ever.  

So I guess that means it's time to point out the elephant in the room.  I've started a new chapter in my life and closing my Justin.tv chapter.  I'm moving on and looking to find another community to love. 

I'm neither regretful nor saddened over this move, I honestly enjoyed my time at Justin.tv for all the good and bad.  I'm going to miss the community and my former colleagues at Justin.tv (some more than others).  I'm proud to have worked with some of the brightest developers I've ever met and I'm also proud that I'm leaving this company is far more knowledge than before I started.

Three years ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you what a keyframe was or knew anything about audio/video equipment and especially nothing about cache invalidation, load balancing and flash video.  I learned pretty quickly how to get myself the tools I needed with minimal dev time.  My main goals were always trying to find solutions to my problems without having to take up a developer's time making some tool or feature for me.

So where do I want to go now?  

That's a pretty damned good question.  The romantic side of me wants to say "where ever the wind may carry me."  I came into community management from the corporate healthcare industry to follow a dream and I got that and it was nice for a while.  My dreams got bigger, more ambitious and less vague.  After working with the JTV gaming community, I got the gift of going to GDC and even E3 with a Press pass and hung out with G4tv.  I got to demo a game on opening day live for Electronic Arts and I did live coverage of Blizzcon on twitter, got interviewed on ThemStream.tv and I even got a crazy gamer tattoo on my arm. To put it lightly, I had a damned good time.   

I've made some friends who do work in the realm of video games and they couldn't be happier.  I know that's where I want to go.  My next dream is to work in the world of video games.  Nothing would make me happier than either fostering a gaming community or even being the community manager of a kick ass video game company

Armed with my Zelda tattoo, Xbox live achievement points and my geekery I swear this will happen. Somehow.  

The glamourous lifestyle of a Web 2.0 employee

So as most of you (if I even have readers left) have noticed I have
pathetically and most dishonourably not been updating my blog. This is
because my time and conscious thoughts have been consumed by my new
job.

I'm currently the Community Director over at Justin.tv.
I'm having the time of my life really. It's by far the most work I have
ever done in any job, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Even
through the fires that I've had to deal with and other things like
that.

This is really the job I had in my mind when I had my
epiphany a year ago. This is the job that I changed my life for. I may
work hard, put lots of hours in and some times want to pull my hair out
but… I've never been as satisifed with work in my entire life.

Oh
notice it's nearly 5am? Yup I'm working now. Well waiting to work
really, there is kind of a fire that needs to be put out and I can't
really go to bed until the fire is out completely. Right now it's
waiting mode so I figured I'd update those few readers I have left in
between Guitar Hero songs.

 
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