I am always going to be an advocate for online communities. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I am passionate about online communities and enjoy sharing my experiences and hearing about yours.

You also know that I am honest about how difficult it can be to do this job well given the fact that so many people hide behind the cloak of anonymity and live to wreak havoc. They are driven by the amount of grief they can cause and measure their personal success by the amount of misery they can produce. My week has consisted of a lot of that, and it has been trying to say the least.

It got so bad that I had to lay down the law in a very public manner, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I banned. There is such a fine line between growing community and destroying it and community managers have to tread very lightly so as not to employ tactics that will result in a mass exodus. It’s an extremely slippery slope.

After all, we need all the members we can get, right?

WRONG. I now know that not all members are created equal, and some we can and simply should do without.

I believed that I needed every member I could get when we first launched GOLO and I worked hard to keep everyone happy, sometimes to a fault. If someone announced that they were leaving, I took it personally and did whatever I could to get them to stay. I had milestones to reach and goals to accomplish and I had my eyes on the prize.

That was then, this is now. When someone announces they are leaving I will be the first to wish them well, especially if they are a known problem.

We cannot allow our communities to be overrun by troublemakers and trolls and we have to take a stand. No community is the same and I am learning that the tactics that one community manager uses may not work for me. The solutions are not one-size -fits all.

The best thing for us to do is keep the conversations going and realize that we all have different communities, procedures for handling abuse, and various registration systems that may not allow us to do things in a similar fashion.

But I digress. My point here is simply this: Our jobs are tough and sometimes we have to be just as tough. Yes, we need members, but we don’t need everyone and sometimes we are better off without certain people, and that’s okay.

So build your community, but don’t be naive, and don’t let them trample you. There are other fish in the sea. Find them, and let some of the others go back into the depths of the deep sea, where they belong.

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Online Community Strategist

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