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Ashamed Of Their Behaviour

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

You can’t tell members to stop the behaviour and expect it
to stop. The behaviour is a symptom of the environment, an attitude, or a
personality problem. It’s hard to change the behaviour of any member without
changing one of the above three.

Personality problems are hard to resolve. It usually means
removing the member. This is a last resort. The other two have easier
solutions. If it’s an attitude problem, you might consider a message such as:

Hi {member},

I love your contributions to the
community, but clearly we have a problem. 

We’re getting too many complaints
about your personal vendettas against each other. It’s hurting the community
and that means it has to stop. 

We can either remove people (which I
would hate to do) or we can agree to a few ground rules from now on: 

1) No more personal
. Debate advice with your own advice. The
moment someone refers to another’s intelligence, background, or something
unrelated to the immediate topic things go crazy. So stop doing that. Once this
happens we’ll remove the post and close the discussion. Everyone loses.

2) Resist the urge to
have the last word
. In online debates no one wants to
call it quits or (heaven forbid) agree to disagree. Trust me, it looks bad when
you can’t walk away from a discussion on the internet. Make your point, clarify
it once, then walk away. Anything else makes you look petty. If you don’t like
someone, don’t waste your time responding to him or her. Don’t let someone get
to you. 

3) Act like the
experts you are
. We know you’re smart and have
incredible expertise about {topic}, so act like experts. Write good advice.
Don’t get sucked into long-winded arguments. 

If we have to remove someone that
means everything goes. All the previous advice you’ve shared on the platform. I
think we can agree that would be a great loss for everyone. 

Note how this message is constructed. It’s not the community
manager’s opinion, it’s the opinion of the community. The community manager
provides advice, highlights how embarrassing the behaviour is and then tries to
promote the member as an expert within the community.

Finally there is a threat of non-existence. Unless something
changes all a previous member’s contributions (and hard work) will be removed.
No-one wants to see their hard work so far vanish.

The goal is to change an attitude to a behaviour more than
changing the behaviour itself. Preventing behaviour in the short-term is
meaningless. Changing the attitude prevents the behaviour permanently.


We’re now accepting applications for our Professional Community Management course (Sept
30 – Nov 8)
. This is an online course that will teach you how to apply proven,
reliable, science to build bigger, better, and more active communities. If you
want to learn more, click here

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