If a member's contribution is too short, it has no value.
Imagine lots of responses along the lines of "great!", "first response!", "congratulations!" or "good luck".
These responses don't add much value to the community. They're often created to boost post counts rather than make any real impact.
However, if a contribution is too long, fewer people read it.
Browsing through a few communities, most discussion threads begin with a post of 75 to 200 words and receive responses around the 50 to 100 word region.
This feels about the right length to me*. These are long enough to detail the reason why the discussion is asked, what type of response is needed, and what impact the discussion will have.
They're short enough not to be offputting to members.
I think there is a better solution. We can guide members to the right type of length. Few platforms do this at the moment. In the post-creation area, use a simple traffic light system to guide members to the ideal post length. Begin with black, turn to green, then to red as the member writes too much content.
Don't prevent members from writing too much, just guide them to the right post length.
It's a simple nudge in the right direction.
* This varies by communities. Communities of circumstance, for example, have longer posts as people describe their stories in more detail.
If you want to master the social science approach to building successful communities, sign up for our Professional Community Management course.
Registration is open now. The course begins on April 28th.