Originally answered May 17, 2017

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The moderators are worried that they will lose control to self-promoters, spammers, trolls, flamers, know-it-alls, pontificators, ranters, bullies, or other negative archetypes.

Here is one example from What’s your community’s culture?

A now-defunct, but formerly-vibrant community provides several examples of the impact of community culture.

  • It was fully moderated — all posts had to go through the community manager, who edited each one before it was posted.
  • There were some very knowledgeable and opinionated members, who were not shy about voicing their views in a spirited fashion.
  • The community held regular online dialogues led by guest hosts during which a predefined set of topics were discussed for a week. This was an innovative and successful approach, but it also required guest hosts to hold their own during their stints when the opinionated members weighed in.
  • During a few of these dialogues, the guest hosts struggled. In one case, the host just stopped responding, unwilling to stand in and keep replying to the challenging posts.
  • When the community manager refused to post a member contribution, this led to the removal of another member, which in turn led several respected members to leave. This spelled the eventual demise of the once-lively community.

Recommendations

  1. Be selective in admitting members, and then trust them to use common sense when they post. If they violate that trust, then intervene as necessary.
  2. If someone posts things that are not valued by the community members or which go against the community’s guidelines, contact them privately. If they persist, remove them from the community.
  3. Prefer knowledge sharing over suppressing posts. As long as a post provides useful information, don’t worry about whether it was a response to a query, self-promotion, or a link with little or no context.
  4. Don’t turn off those who have valuable content to share by telling them not to share links to their posts and articles. They are unlikely to come back, and the community will miss out on what they had to share.
  5. Maintain an environment in which all members feel that they can post without negative consequences, where their contributions are valued, and where members try to help each other out as much as possible.

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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