One of the reasons I love Richard Millington‘s blog is because he’s focused on analyzing data and shares what he learns. In this post, Richard tells us that much of the conventional wisdom about online community management just doesn’t hold up when you look at the numbers. It’s another welcome reminder that hard data should drive how you run your community, not intuition.
I’ve always believed that there is a place for anonymity in online communities. On the site that I’m associated with, Delphi Forums, a small minority of members use their real names. In this post, Alison Michalk lays out the reasons for allowing anonymity and rejects the arguments of those who say requiring people to use their real names is the only way to prevent undesirable behavior online.
The title of this blog post gets to the heart of why it’s so important: Trolls and fools are two different kinds of people, and you deal with each type of poster differently. Trolls, as Patrick Groome reminds us, are those that post messages with the sole intent of getting a rise out of others. Fools, on the other hand, raise the ire of others because they’re, well, fools. Patrick also reminds us that a contrarian can be good for a forum if he or she doesn’t get out of hand.
From time to time, I’ll see blog posts on how to start an online community. The good ones, like this post from Patrick O’Keefe, talk about the need to start small and not expect a thriving community overnight. In this post, Patrick also has other helpful hints about setting down rules, finding your audience, and incorporating advertising.
In many cases, it’s perfectly appropriate — even desirable — for the community manager to be an active participant in the community. But as Deb Ng writes in this post, it’s never OK for the community manager to play favorites or engage in gossip with forum members. As Deb writes, the moderator’s job is to be inclusive, not divisive.