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MANAGING ONLINE FORUMS
If a Question Has B een Asked Befo re
If a user asks a question that you know has been answered before, you have
two options. If it is fairly quick and easy to do so, just answer the question
straight away. However, if the question requires a detailed answer and has
been answered before, provide a link to the answer and then close the thread
(assuming the thread you are linking the user to is still open, ready for replies,
and has recently been active). Don’t act like the user was supposed to have
found it on his own.
Make Your Users Feel Involved
Part of creating a great environment is making your users feel like their feel-
ings and their suggestions are considered and appreciated. When users partici-
pate in a community for a while, they will start to feel a sense of ownership
in it. Although you may be the true owner, it is important that you try not to
make drastic changes without announcing them. If you would like their feed-
back, try to ask for it before making the change. If you want their help finding
problems after a change has been made, ask them as well. Your members are
a terrific resource.
If they feel that you don’t care what they think, that isn’t going to bode
well for you. They will either decide not to provide you with any feedback or
they will resent you (probably both). It is true that you will make the final
decision on all changes. However, when it’s feasible, hear people out and
thank them for their suggestions even if you don’t act on them, which will
probably be the case a lot of the time.
Ask Users for Input
If you have an idea for a new feature or a change to your community, you can
create a thread to ask your users their opinion. Besides making them feel
involved, they may unearth something that you missed. This improves the
proposed change or addition. When asking for feedback, it can be helpful to
avoid inferring any strong views, so that you don’t influence their thoughts
too much.
Just because you ask users for input does not mean that you have to go
with the majority. Ultimately, you will make the final decision based upon

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