New Tricks: Wrangling an online community

November 11th, 2008

Do you allow users to post material on your site?

If you are the community manager of a Web site that does, ask for a raise. If you’re the community manager’s boss, give that person a raise … now.

Let’s list this poor schlub’s headaches:

1. Users who attack each other personally and viciously. Few things (outside of maybe driving) make people as insanely rude to each other as the semi-anonymity of social networks.

2. Users who walk the line of libel. OK, cross the line and dance all over it.

3. Users who think it’s a sport to find a way around your dirty-word filter.

4. People who use the community to grind their own axes. I’ve seen people get on soapboxes against one individual or niche issue and just never step down.

5. Users who report abuse when the material is not abusive. This is supremely annoying because someone still has to check out every report and make a decision. These users tend to be highly political and report material with which they disagree politically.

What to do?

1. If you are the community manager’s boss, get that person some help. It does not matter how small a community is, if there’s a community, monitoring help is needed.

2. Make sure your community manager has the tools needed to effectively work within that community. The manager must be able to remove offensive material quickly and effectively.

3. Send warning e-mails to abusive users. That sometimes works wonders. People are often sheepish once they realize their anonymity isn’t absolute.

4. Make sure you prominently display great rules of engagement for your users. Enforce those rules.

5. If possible, deputize the “good” members of your community. Give them the power to zap material or even ban bad users. It’s empowering to your “super users” — and they’ll work for free because they just care about the community.

No community is easy to manage, but if you implement these tricks, you might at least alleviate the headaches for a while. Now, about that raise …

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Entry Filed under: Management Issues

  • alex

    Nice article to boost an online forum or community

  • seotest

    this is great idea, thanks for the nice info you post


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