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Managing a Google+ community

Now that Google+ has communities, I am seeing the same mistakes that managers make on Facebook, and, well, in real life. Being in charge, and setting down rules, is something that most people never really get a chance to in life, and when they do, many go a little bit crazy. I call it "The Captain Bligh effect". He was the one who caused the mutiny on "Mutiny on the Bounty", you know.

If you're managing a community, you may be tempted to write a long list of rules, walk around looking disapprovingly, perhaps blowing a whistle. I wish you wouldn't. A long list of rules, such as making people say "captain may I?" before they post just shows me that you have no experience as a manager, and your community will quickly turn into a series of confrontations.

Here are some thoughts:

• Set the tone. Write an intelligent, short, introduction to the group. Don't tell them what to do, these are adults. I'm an old teacher, so I like to just say something like "play fair" with a smile and a wink. If they violate one of your rules (probably because they didn't see it), send them a polite private message - if you know how. If you don't know how, learn how, or don't do it. Don't argue in front of everyone else, it just makes everyone nervous. If they are just spamming your group, block them. And if your list of rules gets to the point that says, "expand this post", it's too long. Lighten up.

• Tell people who is in charge. Say "your moderator is -state your name-. If you want to remain anonymous, then why are you on Google+ anyway? People want to communicate with a real name, not "I luv dachshunds".

• Moderate. You started the community, now care for it. If the page is filled with a bunch of useless spam and unrelated comments, it just shows that you are not paying attention. If you don't visit your page, why should anyone else?

• Don't post too much. Get things started, post a bit, but then sit back and shut up. If it's a good community, people will join and participate.

Just hold on loosely, but don't let go.

By the way, if you like cycads (and who doesn't?!) here is the new community I just created for Cycads