If you're an online community manager - in fact, if not in title - you understand the joys, the challenges, the bummers and the triumphs that can come with a role that requires the skills and personal assets of a psychologist, group psychiatrist, sociologist, technical support person, internal diplomat, information juggler, mediator, crisis manager, fire fighter, policeman, judge, justice of the peace, PR person, marketer and project manager.

No, really. If you rely on a community manager in your organization, it may look like a simple job - just keep the people happy and avoid any uprisings, revolts, flame wars and PR disasters. Good typing skills are an asset, some experience with social media tools and you're good to go. Wrong!

Lack of appreciation for what good community managers do is a flaw that weakens the assets of community engagement among customers and employees.

A community manager is different from a marketer or public relations specialist because the dynamics of relating personally in a group are different. The firewall between a business and its online customers must be much more transparent in an online community. A community manager who is not to some degree vulnerable will have a more difficult time gaining and maintaining trust. Though a community can be like a circus, the CM is not a ringmaster. It's more intimate than that.

So do try to appreciate the roles that CMs play in today's ever-more-social Web. It may be that community managers are born, not raised for the role. Whether or not that is true, good CMs are hard to find and probably harder to keep.

Now, thanks to Get Satisfaction, here are two cartoons that illustrate real life facets of the CM role.