How should we handle negative comments and hostile behaviour on our site?
When organizations jump into social media, one of the first questions that comes up is how to handle negative or hostile comments. Open your site up to public contributions and who knows what will appear: torrents of customer complaints, bitter personal rants, pornographic images.
For some organizations working on polarizing issues or with sensitive stakeholders, these concerns need to be paramount. In most cases, the risk of negative feedback pales in comparison to a much more likely -- and much more problematic -- phenomenon: the absence or paucity of feedback, engagement and participation.
And many of the techniques that are most effective in protecting against negativity also reduce levels of participation. Moderate content, hold it for approval, or shut down criticism, and you end up looking like a stage managed community with little room for authentic conversation.
That's why we typically advise establishing the minimum level of intervention needed to address problem behaviour. Set up guidelines that encourage positive use, model constructive contribution, and make sure you have a plan in your back pocket in case trouble does arise. But don't underestimate your community: the most effective way to manage negative participation is to let your enthusiastic participants tackle it themselves -- often drowning it out.
Independent news site The Tyee has an interesting take on the dilemma facing those of us who animate online communities: how can you promote positive participation, discourage the bile and avoid the accusation of censorship?
In this second part of a 10-part series, find out how blogs can earn their keep. This post, we look at the value of the feedback you can get from your blog's readers.
Kathy Sierra at the Creating Passionate Users blog notes how hard it can be for a new user to break into a community... especially if it's built around user-submitted questins and answers. Most forum operators handle newcomers with an FAQ; a few visionaries create a safe environment for asking questions. But Sierra says you can dramatically escalate participation if you make it easier for newbies to answer questions, too... and she has six suggestions for doing just that.
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When someone criticizes your company, service or products online, how should you respond? Learn from TripIt's example.
When you're charting new territory, risk is inevitable. But no matter how successful or unsuccessful each venture may be, it always leaves you with something valuable: knowledge.
Hmm: that comment on your site isn't abusive, but it is sharply critical of your organization. How easy it would be to just reach over and click the "delete" link... and what a huge mistake.
When flame wars erupt on your community, you need to act quickly - but with a skilled, careful hand, striking a balance between keeping the peace and stifling discussion. Check out these steps for keeping a community on the right side of the line between healthy conversation and verbal abuse.