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About Rich

  • Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy and Professional Community Management course. Richard is also the author of Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities. Richard's clients have included Google, AutoDesk, United Nations, Novartis, Wikipedia, Oracle, The World Bank, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Fidelity Investments, and many more. Richard is also the the author of the Online Community Manifesto.

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Comments

Martin Reed

I have to admit, this post concerns me a little. Yes, arguments and fights definitely draw in the crowds and boost activity and you say this should be encouraged until things get personal - at which time you step in.

The problem is, very often these fights and arguments do get personal - very personal. Because you have encouraged them, you have lost a lot of moral authority if you do deem it necessary to step in.

I speak from experience. We used to allow and often incite arguments at the Just Chat message boards. Great for the numbers - about 1,000 members made around a third of a million posts. It was awful though - you would dread logging in as you knew that you would have to plough through nothing but negativity (regardless of whether the posts were personal or not).

Then, when we went in to moderate the posts that took things too far, people jumped on us telling us that we can't encourage arguments then start moderating and removing posts that are deemed 'personal'. Indeed, even the word is a little subjective.

You also need to consider the message you are sending out to new and existing members alike. New members will look through an existing community before deciding whether to join (normally). A battleground of arguments may encourage them to join and get involved, but it also might just turn them away.

It's a very big issue this, and I would advise people to be very careful about following a policy of encouraging arguments. It can work, but it can have huge negative consequences, too.

Sue

I would have to disagree with your comment that,"Few leave a community because they get into a fight, most leave a community because it’s gotten boring." In my experience constant arguments between community members can be extremely off-putting and could drive members away who don't like confrontation, alternatively, as Martin has already commented on, it could make new members hesitate about contributing. Many read a board/group before actually registering and too many arguments could stop them joining in the first place.

Angela Connor

I wouldn't encourage fights but I would certainly allow robust debate. I know that many people love being part of the community I manage simply for the opportunities to engage in debate on tons of topics. What often happens is debates turn into fights and sometimes it gets way out of hand. I appreciate what you're saying here but this type of thing causes way too many issues for me and the pettiness and emails flooded to my inbox about these types of fights often make my job unbearable. It becomes a nuisance and the childishness that often follows is quite burdensome in my experience. Perhaps it depends on your community.

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