Communities – Saints And Sinners, You Need Both

Monday, June 13, 2011 @ 09:06 AM

There are two types of people in online communities; saints and sinners. Whilst we’d all love to have a community full of saints who contribute positively, get along, tow the party line and interact in a non-confrontational way the world unfortunately doesn’t work like this. What’s slightly more annoying is that sinners can potentially drive greater levels of interaction within your community.

Whether it’s the awful contestants on reality TV shows, the unravelling story in a US crime drama or secretly routing for the bad guy in a Hollywood blockbuster part of us always wants the “sinner” to prevail. This happens just the same in communities. Sinners attempt to gain negative reputation and portions of the audience will respond and drive those sinners on in a bid to see how far they will go and what the response from the “brand” will be.

The big question for a Community Manager is, where do you draw the line? I added a rule in my last community that meant I could remove anyone at anytime if they were considered disruptive and I did this on more than one occasion. Whilst making these decisions though I did keep in mind that this sinner was actually driving certain types of interaction within the community and this meant at a base level that people were willing to contribute (even if it wasn’t in the way I would have liked).

This is another one of those grey areas when it comes to Community Management and judgement calls come in to play. One thing worth remembering though; the potentially disruptive members of your community still have some value, you just need to decide how far you let them go before you cut them loose.

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