There’s a difference between a self-sustaining community and a self-managing community.
Your community might be able to sustain itself with fresh activity, but it can’t revamp the website, prioritise certain features or discussions to meet your objectives, or build close relationships between top members.
It can’t weed out threats or optimise the member journey. It also can’t easily improve the quality of the conversation without the impetus of a community team. This is more valuable than you might think.
As one study from online health communities clearly shows:
“The presence of a moderator increased user engagement, encouraged users to discuss negative emotions more candidly, and dramatically reduced bad behavior among chat participants.
Moderation also encouraged stronger linguistic coordination, which is indicative of trust building. In addition, moderators who remained active in conversations were especially successful in keeping conversations on topic.”
When you cut the community team, you might not see it in the level of activity – but you will certainly see it in the quality of activity. You will find yourself with a less trusting, more toxic, and less valuable community.