Malcolm's Reviews > Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards

Managing Online Forums by Patrick O'Keefe
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's review
Mar 14, 2010

did not like it
Recommended for: Anyone running an online forum
Read in March, 2010

The title of this book accurately reflects what you will find in its covers. I'm sure it would be an excellent guide for anyone setting up an on line forum. I was reading it for another purpose.
I didn't learn a lot from this book as I have no intention of managing an online forum. In the absence of books on how to operate Blackboard online sites, I read this kind of book hoping to glean a few new ideas. Therefore I could afford to skip the sections in this book on managing staff and making money.
The book did clarify my thinking that a successful Blackboard site needs equal attention to promotion and keeping the content interesting. His ideas were not new to me but confirmed that our own thinking on these issues is along the right lines.
Patrick O'Keefe also pointed out the pitfalls of creating personae and artificial participants to create the illusion that a lot of people are using the site or to disguise the fact that you are single handedly producing all the content. This certainly influenced my decision not to engage in this practice.
Other than an admonition to keep content up to date and interesting, he had no suggestions on how to gauge what was interesting nor on where to generate the new content. I am aware that on my Blackboard site I am writing for an adolescent audience and I am finding it difficult to find topics which engage their attention.
When it come to promotion so many of his ideas aren't applicable to our situation. We don't have a budget for on line advertising and we are a closed community. Nor can we adopt methods which can increase the chances that our website will appear at the top of a Google search.
What was a particularly good feature was his chapter headings and the summaries of each chapter in his conclusions. These made it easier to target relevant content and sieve out the rest.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Patrick (new) - added it

Patrick Hello Malcolm,

Thank you for the review and for picking up the book. I am sorry that you didn't find it useful for your needs. I'd be glad (here or via e-mail at to help you to better this experience by offering what thoughts I can about your unique situation.

It seems like you rated the book based on how it applied to Blackboard online sites, rather than how it applied to what it was written for - online forums. I don't know if this is fair, but wanted to point it out nonetheless.

Not being familiar with Blackboard powered sites, it's hard for me to tell you how portions might apply. Certainly, portions of the book apply to online community spaces in general and, as I mentioned in the book and above, I'd be happy to try to help you in some way and how some of this might apply to your situation, if I was provided with some details.

Regarding this line: "Other than an admonition to keep content up to date and interesting, he had no ideas on how to gauge what was interesting nor on where to generate the" - if you could finish the line, I'd be glad to offer whatever thoughts on this that I can.

Thank you for your time and, again, for picking up the book and sharing your thoughts.



message 2: by Malcolm (last edited Apr 06, 2010 04:14PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Malcolm Thank you for this comment. It is wonderful to be able to engage with the writers of the books we read. It also makes sense for you to follow what is being written about your book on the web. My audience at the time I wrote, was my work colleagues who also have to think about what makes good on line learning.
My problem has been to find books written on the subject of writing content for Blackboard.
Blackboard Learning Systems is an on line teaching system with a small market in this country, so there are few books I can read to learn more about what to do. I readily concede that your book was written for another audience. That is why I found your chapter headings helpful so I could read only what was relevant.
In the weeks since I wrote this review I have identified a range of books which I hope will be much more relevant to my situation. I will only know this when I read them.
Thank you also for the opportunity to edit my review to be fairer to your book and to correct my typos!

Malcolm Law

message 3: by Patrick (new) - added it

Patrick Hello Mr. Law,

Thank you for getting back to me. It's my pleasure. I'm glad that you identified some books that may help you in your endeavors.

I appreciate your adjustment of the review. The one star still stings, but I'm glad that you found the book useful for it's intended purpose.

Thanks again,


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