2 Replies Latest reply on Oct 10, 2008 7:01 AM by MRowland

    Looking for real-life examples of a community policing itself


      I was asked this question yesterday but didn't have any real-world examples.  This stems from a company who is interested in communities but fearful about negative comments and how a community will respond.  Anyone have any examples to share where a troll or negative comment was followed by a community member marking that question/person as abusive?


      Would really appreciate a good example or two re community moderation by members.  Thanks in advance.

        • Re: Looking for real-life examples of a community policing itself

          I am running a social network for a non-profit, in which volunteers engage in creative endeavors that further the non-profit aims. Recently we had a case of an innapropriate post by user, and the drama that ensued when his post was removed by a community moderator after being alerted by a member.


          The lesson learned:

          • Always follow up with the user immediately after the post deletion or moderation.
          • Have a well written Community Guidelines
          • Make sure your moderators are well versed in dispute resolution
          • Never escalate a dispute


          There is an excellent resource that you may want to consult @ the Meatball Wiki - in particular their pages on SoftResponse, SoftSecurity and HardSecurity, which I find very pertinent to this issue.


          -- Jossi

          • Re: Looking for real-life examples of a community policing itself

            Hi Adam,


            First, full disclosure so everyone knows our bias on this: We provide consulting and moderation services for organizations thinking about offering online communities and social networks.


            The criticism question/fear is always the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room when discussing communities.


            Our experiences vary, but in short if you rely on your community members to police themselves and respond to criticism you will be disappointed.


            In nine years of working with over 40 online communities and social networks, we've seen very few communities that had reached the stage of maturity where they could police themselves. Here is what we've learned about this from surveying multiple communities about the idea of members policing the site:

            1. The majority of members in most communities will not report violations. Sure a couple of your top members might, but members believe it is the hosting company's responsibility to keep the community clean and working.
            2. The overwhelming reason why members won't report issues is the fear of being labelled a 'tattletale' or company employee or company shill by other members ruining their credibility online.
            3. While members have an affinity for your brand, they don't have a responsibility to defend your brand and many will wait to see how you respond as an organization before jumping on board to support.
            4. Members in B2C communities actually enjoy a good flame war from time to time. They want to see the community management in action to reassure them that the organization cares about the conduct within the community and that the management is aware of the member needs. Because of this, in many B2C communities, members will not step up to prevent or stop a flame war, but rather actively participate in it. This is especially true of your most devoted members.


            The one example we have to share is where a member stood up against a trolling competitor in a B2B community was with a large technology community back in 2002, when a competitor trashed the product being looked at by a member. In this case, the moderation process was to leave the criticism up and respond after 2 business days. Within a day, we saw a member respond with a long comparision of the products mentioned which clearly showed the benefits of our client's products over the competition's. But this was a single instance out of many...


            You must leave the criticism up if it's valid and respond. Just don't expect your members to do it for you. Part of running a community is getting into the mix and interacting with members.... too many companies are being told by consultants to sit back and let the members dictate the community's operation. That's just poor advice. Process and moderation/facilitation are very necessary in any community. Letting members dictate everything ends up in chaos which does not result in achieving any significant objectives for the organization offering the community.