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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.

    e-mail: richard@feverbee.com
    T:+44 (0)7763 831931

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Kerri Birtch

Hi Richard,

Nice to see you've turned our discussion into a post. And perhaps this is a better place to respond anyhow - more characters ;)

First off, personally, I was not 'upset' at your suggestion. I just simply disagree. We clearly focus on different types of communities, and I don't believe there's a one-size-fits-all solution. So, when you say 'it's not customer service', well for me it actually is. Like many Community Managers, I run a community on behalf of a brand, so it very important that I take a customer service approach to community building. If I 'kick out a member' I run the risk of losing a customer or creating negative word of mouth. These aren't things I want as a brand community manager.

I understand your point of view, I just think it seems a bit curt. How would you propose 'kicking someone out'? Do you block them from the community? When you tell them they're not welcome, how do they tend to respond?

Again, this all depends on the type of community you're managing. Not all communities are 'exclusive' as you put it. In my case, I want it to be inclusive - I want it to grow with a many members as possible who share a common interest. But if someone doesn't share that common interest, I believe general human behaviour would dictate that they simply wouldn't want to participate anyway. And if they do, I'm happy to let them continue. What harm are they doing? Isn't that why we often have 'social lounges' for off-topic discussions?

Again, I'm not at all upset. Just offering a different point of view.

^KB

Richard Millington

Hey Kerri,

The post wasn't about you, but more about a few messages I got via e-mail.

Your argument is well constructed, but I disagree.

This post was targeted for community managers on behalf of brand. It's not customer service. The customer service perspective is the same approach that leads to a limited sense of community.

So let's follow through on your example. You don't kick out the member. The boundary in the community weakens. Members lose that sense of identification with one another. The level of activity drops. The level of growth declines. The overall value of the community plummets as members go elsewhere or simply stop participating.

The cost of not kicking out that member is far higher than losing a single customer. You could end up losing all the value that the community was meant to generate.

If you're running a customer service channel like those on Lithium/GetSatisfaction then that's perfectly fine. You just need to respond the questions members have. If you're trying to build a strong sense of community amongst people (and it's this that generates increase value), then it's not.

Kerri Birtch

Again, disagree. I think you're making a lot of grand assumptions that users who don't fit will affect the sense of identification with one another, cause activity to drop, growth to decline etc. Sounds very 'armageddon-ish' to me. And if a community is already strong, they'll welcome other users and attempt to educate them. Outside of the T&C's, it should really be up to the community who stays and who goes.

But, it seems we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

As always, I do enjoy your posts - definitely food for thought.

Cheers,
^KB

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