Running a web community can be fun and rewarding, but you’re always reliant on the good faith of your members. So what happens when rogue elements threaten to disrupt, even destroy, the foundations of your society, often behind the cloak of anonymity? How do you rest back control from the ‘supervillains’?
Powasek’s article elaborates on 5 scenarios to keep the community happy. These relate to various defence mechanisms that he has employed on websites like kvetch.com and are summarised below.
The eyeball defence
People behave better when they think someone’s watch their every move. It is human nature that people become more trustworthy when they are being watched. Whether it is a ‘pay for what you think it’s worth’ type service, or a web community, people become more honest if there is a modicum of Big Brother about the website.
The probation defence
Block ‘angry’ users from posting content for a period of time. Once that period has expired, allow the user to again fully interact with the website.
The community boot defence
Give members the ability to report the bad members. Members can flag bad content or people. After a certain number of flags, the content can be programmatically removed or the person banned for a short period of time.
The denial of existence defence
Since deleting a troublesome user’s account will just prompt them to sign up with a new username, write a tool that degredates the performace of the site for those members who are causing the problems. You could even go as far as show a version of the Twitter Fail Whale. Websites are known to break, so it won’t be out of the ordinary for a person to experience a badly performing website. It just happens that that person is a nuisance.
The dig your own hole defence
Deleting a person account is sometimes the only answer. Therefore, giving the user the ability to delete their own account and optionally take all their generated content with them will provide a release mechanism. Always provide a friendly fairwell message:
We’re sorry to see you go. You’re welcome back any time.
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