The Shame Effect

May 28, 2012Comments Off on The Shame Effect

Patrick writes about a member pretenting to commit suicide

What should the community manager do?

The problem isn't what to do for this situation (it was well handled), but where you're going to draw the line. Do you get involved when a member lies about having cancer? Do you get involved when a member lies about a member of their family dying/getting really ill? 

What about when a member lies about losing their job (either for sympathy or to save face). What do you do when a member lies about his wife leaving him? What do you do when any member lies about anything? Are you going to outlaw lying?

If you think this is a unique situation, just Google "Lied about cancer". You'll find over 19.9m hits.

At some point, you have to let communities work the way they're supposed to. They naturally shame and shun the liars. We have reputations for a reason. Let gossip work it's magic

As perverse as it sounds, such people can be good for a community. They unite people against them. It makes those insiders feel even greater insiders. Enemies, attacks and shared events unite members. 

Just don't become the lying police. Once you try to stop members lying to you (or each other), you're heading down a tricky path.

* Bonus fact. Up to 1 in 4 adults in the USA suffer from a mental disorder. Worth considering when you're deciding how to manage difficult members.

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