As community managers we should never be so desperate for members that we allow ourselves or others to be repeatedly abused by any one member. Nor should we be afraid to communicate publicly if and when a message needs to be sent.

I know that some of my peers would disagree with me here, and I’m okay with that. Many believe that any strong words or difficult exchanges should happen behind the scenes, via e-mail, if at all.

I agree with that to a certain extent, but we also have to recognize that no two communities are  the same therefore the same styles of community management don’t always transfer. We need to agree on that because it is simply the truth.

I have suggested to a few members, after observing their behavior and interaction within the community, that perhaps my community isn’t for them. One gentleman in particular was always pushing the envelope with risque photos. I told him as gently as I could that he should look into some of the types of communities that appreciate that kind of art as they are quite pervasive across the web. I posted this publicly on his profile where anyone could view it.  After all, he was posting the photos publicly on the site for all to see so to me that was appropriate.

It also illustrates concern for other members and I really think there is value in letting the community see some of that for themselves.  They need to know that you are working to keep your community in tact.

We cannot be afraid to speak openly and be direct. If you don’t think so, it’s only because you haven’t yet experienced a real reason to do it. Or it may be that your community is new and you deem it too risky. I’ve been there and I understand.

But when you’ve got a group of renegades wreaking havoc on the community, or trolls coming out in droves,  nice personal e-mails may not be tough enough. I’ve addressed some of these types of behaviors through blog posts like this one, and this one.

You have to learn how to put your foot down and stand strong when it’s appropriate. And only you will know when that is.

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Online Community Strategist

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