Chapter 15. Managing Communities

You want your members to have helpful, friendly interactions on your site—an experience they’ll enjoy and want to have again. Unfortunately, that won’t always happen, and not necessarily because you built your site incorrectly. The anonymity offered by the Internet gives some people the liberty to behave badly. Hiding behind a screen name makes some people feel like they can act with impunity. There are lots of names for the people who behave badly on the Internet: for instance, spammers, porn and drug merchants, trolls, griefers, and troublemakers. Some of them are trying to sell something, while others are just out to cause problems.

However, there are some ways to mitigate the worst of these problems, and your community can help you. Although community management and moderation approaches deserve a book of their own, this chapter will provide an overview of some of the key issues.

Social Behavior in the Real World

On most social forums, there are some people you know, some you might have invited, some you get to know, and a large number you don’t know at all. There are many places in the real world with the same characteristics. Bars and restaurants, for instance, are independent commercial endeavors to which you can become a regular visitor, but they are not someone’s personal home. They have staff members who run the place, and there are expected modes of interaction. A bar or café is probably the best fit to a message board or social network because ...

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