If you’ve got a community on your website, then you need to read Patrick O’Keefe’s book, Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards. I have started a handful of (rather unsuccessful) communities in the last few years, and wish I’d had Patrick’s book then. Maybe I would have done a better job.

Patrick pours years of community management experience and firsthand real-world examples into what could be called the manual for online community managers or owners.

The book is broken down into chapters in almost the same order as the lifecycle of a community… planning & development, guidelines, promotion, staff & user issues, keeping it all running, and (finally), making money. In each section, he outlines best practices while also giving personal advice just as he would if he were talking to you face-to-face. His candid, personal writing style makes you feel like you’re reading advice from a friend more than a typical management book.

The chapters are broken down into sub-headers, which make it an excellent reference book later, when an issue comes up and you just need a little advice. Just flip to the index and you’ll instantly find out how to deal with vulgar language or find an interesting idea for promoting your community.

Managing Online Forums also has numerous examples of forms, guidelines, notifications and more and they are all downloadable from the book’s website.

If you run or are thinking of running an online community, you owe it to yourself to buy Patrick’s book.