May 21 Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for posting this Blaise,
It's a very useful post for anyone who manages an online community - forewarned is forearmed as they say.
It would be great to uncover some examples of people who have overcome any of the issues you raise - have you had any responses to your closing question?
I also liked Courtney's point about how a crises can heighten emotions - a good one to add to the list.
Thanks to you both,
May 20 Posted 5 years ago
For the past several months I have been participating in and observing several online communities that have built up around several wildlife cameras. I wrote a blog post a while back noting how well the first one I joined (focused on a pair of nesting eagles) provided a live case study for observing best practices as well as challenges, which I invited people to study with me. I planned to write a follow-up post highlighting key elements, but then the mama eagle was killed in a tragic accident and all hell break loose. Around the same time the tornados wreaked havoc on Alabama and other states, and I couldn't help but observe the important role social media - and digital communities in particular - played in helping people work through these crises. So I wrote a second post a couple of weeks ago called "Tragedy, Hope, and the Undeniable Power of Social Media as a Force for Good."
The communities I've studied and written about are unique in many respects, but we can still learn a lot from them. A couple of factors I would add to your list relate to crises that can occur. These crises can cause heightened emotions and confusion that can create a lot of conflict. I have also noticed that both in general and when there's a crisis, a lack of clear and consistent community posting guidelines (which you allude to) can promote conflict, both among members and between members and community managers.
I've previously written about managing comments in online communities, which has been shared on SMT too. The ideas in that post, as well as the NY Times pieces to which it links, can provide some additional insight on the question of community conflict.
Courtney Hunt - Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community
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