Should You Delete Discussions?

Whenever you remove any content a member has posted, they will assume the worst possible intent.

Last year, a client recently faced a product problem. This led to dozens of members starting new, repetitive, and negative discussions in the community. To prevent the community becoming overwhelmed, they decided to remove all but one post.

Naturally, this led to outrage amongst members claiming the brand was trying to cover up the problem.

This led to an internal debate about whether the community team should be removing ‘discussions’.

The problem is ‘removing discussions’ isn’t a helpful way to frame a problem. Better to identify the specific problem you’re trying to resolve.

For example, instead of removing discussions you might want to think about:

  • Quality of new discussions. How much research and effort do you expect a member to make when posting a question? Below what threshold should it be removed?
  • Quantity of discussions. How many posts should a member be able to initiate within 24 hours?
  • Age and recency of discussions. Should you remove old discussions? How will you know if discussions are outdated and should be pruned? When and where will you do this?
  • Dealing with critical problems. What do you do when a product problem has emerged which members are creating endless new discussions about (filled with complaints?)
  • What counts as spam/self-promotion? Where do you draw the line between what is the promotion of something of value and what’s self-promotional?

This is far from a comprehensive list, but you get the idea. Instead of deciding whether or not to delete discussions, you should be deciding which rules you are creating/enforcing/refining? Arbitrarily removing a discussion without a rule to explain why is never a good idea.

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