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Leadership: At Cheezburger Network, users take the lead

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That's why Huh stresses the importance of building a great playground but then letting the people decide how to enjoy it. Of course, this requires a lot of trust in the users. Few places bring out the dark side of schoolyard behavior quite like the Internet. But Huh compares this faith in the users with his faith in his employees.

"If you trust your employees, you have to give them leeway on their interpretation of your vision," he says. "The same actually goes for our community as well, which is, I expect that our community will put the best interests of the community at heart – that they will act within social norms. And if that is actually the case, than we should give them more tools so that they can make that happen."

The network receives 12,000 to 15,000 submissions a day. Of those, maybe 10 to 12 percent are funny enough for the home page, says Lisa Kacerosky, one of Cheezburger's senior editors. They regularly toss aside inside jokes and offensive humor. But the most unfortunate kind of reject, she says, are legitimately hilarious submissions attached to crummy or poorly edited photographs. While Cheezburger can't do much about blurry images, the company has built several online tools to make creating a joke as easy as possible.

For example, Ms. Kacerosky recalls one of the first big gags to emerge after she was hired two years ago. During the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, rapper Kanye West stormed the stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, grabbed the microphone away from her, and declared that Beyoncé should have won the award for Best Female Video. For the next few weeks, the Web brimmed with jokes about Mr. West's audacity.

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