Changing your tools to meet your online community's needs

If I've learned anything from a decade of online community management, it's that you cannot teach people how to use your community "correctly." Your members will use the tools you make available the ways that suit them, and time spent trying to convince them to use them differently is just a waste of moderator energy. Your tools MUST match the needs of your community — if your members are not using the tools the way you intended, then you need to reassess the tool.

This situation gets even more complex because the needs of a community shift as it matures. A tool that might have been awesome at one era of a community's development might be completely pointless during another era. You can't get attached to your tools, because if your members aren't using them, they're useless.

Ok, ok. Less vague-blogging. Let me give you a very specific recent example from the Offbeat Bride Tribe: the killing of the Primal Scream Therapy section.

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Ignore, delete, try not to engage: one more perspective on dealing with web hate

"There’s this interesting culture of hate on the internet. I don’t know if it’s just that people are angry and feel a relief in releasing their anger online in the form of anonymous online “hate justice” but it’s rough on the receiving end of it. I won’t lie. People seem to think that ugly opinions are the same as constructive criticism and it’s not but there’s no arguing with them about it. They’re not looking for reasons to like you, they’re looking for more reasons to hate you."

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Why do we discourage blog comments on Facebook?

All the Offbeat Empire blogs have corresponding Facebook Fan Pages. Each Page has a feed of posts links that are syndicated from each blog. It's not the entire post, it's just a link to the post on the main blog. This means that if you like reading Offbeat Bride's blog and fan us on Facebook, you'll see a link to new Offbeat Bride posts from your Facebook newsfeed.

This is all awesome.

However, what's LESS awesome is that we can't turn comments off for these syndicated posts.

Wait, you're saying. Aren't comments a good thing? Why aren't you thankful for the comments people are posting on Facebook? Why would you want less comments? OMG SO MANY REASONS.

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Why blog commenter over-sharing is ultimately a publisher's problem

Publishing websites dedicated to big life stuff means that we get a lot of blog comments that are extremely personal. I'm not even talking here about the Offbeat Bride Tribe, which is private for exactly this reason — I'm just talking about comments on the blog. Comments that are all out in the open for everyone to read. A few examples of the kinds of over-sharing comments we deal with…