I read back over my previous post this morning, and became worried that it was too negative. Don’t forget, the press prefer to report the down-side of interaction online. Positive interaction is rarely newsworthy. So here’s a personal story for you:
About 5 years ago, I had some trouble online with a guy, a member online. I was the admin (managing moderators) for a forum for a virtual world and he kept causing the board to erupt into a flame war. When I tried to deal with him, he came back posting pornography and making IRL (in real life) threats to me. Quite worrisome ones, I still remember them, about being tied to a chair. Anyway, eventually we were able to block his access completely and stopped him from creating new accounts. When these sort of power tussles happen between the moderator and a real bad guy – not one of their ‘misunderstood’ friends – the community after an initial show of outrage, goes quiet. Not a peep. No waaaay are they going to be caught in the cross-fire. 😛
A short time after (maybe, 48 hours?) a few stick their head up and decide that’s its time for a “what does SilkCharm look like?” competition. Which worried me at first. But I needn’t have been concerned. While there were some beautiful responses (some of the community worked in their real life jobs as graphic designers) the two I liked best came from younger, naughtier members of the community.
Negative situations can work to bring a community together.
And while nothing can substitute for a professional support infrastructure for your
customer service staff moderators, the community will find ways of saying thank you without actually saying it. For me, their beautiful pictures made all the aggravation worth while. As always, your mileage may vary (ymmv).