Last week I posed a problem to community managers.
It read like this:
You're running a community that's been around for 18 months. The number of registered members is rising by about 250 per month.
The level of activity appears relatively constant. The number of discussions is rising, but the number of responses to each discussion has tapered off a little.
You notice the same names begin to appear on almost every response.
Several of these same names are beginning to argue with each other on every topic.
As community manager, what would you do and why?
Pretty much everyone fixated on the seen problem (the arguments between members). Nobody pointed out that if the number of registered members is rising about 250 per month, the level of activity should be rising too.
This is a huge, huge, huge, problem in community management. It's easy to become fixated upon the problems you can easily see, the things that personally irritate us (one member replying to every post) and ignore the unseen problems.
The problem is it's the unseen problems that kill a community, not seen problems.
The unseen problems like low conversion ratios, growing departure of regulars, less activity per member, do far more damage than a few members bickering.