Managing Trouble Makers in Online Communities

One of the difficulties in managing an online community is dealing with trouble-makers and trolls without hurting or completely ruining the overall community. To add further to this, many good, contributing members may also be inclined towards problematic behaviour towards other’s in the community. As an administrator, moderator or webmaster it can be very difficult to deal with these people in a fair way. Herein, a few ideas for managing troublemakers in online communities will be given.

Develop a Methodology

This really is the most important part of dealing with trouble-makers in a community. Developing a methodology means creating some sort of clear concept of how conflict will be identified and managed. What this means is that you should create a list of what you consider to be problematic behaviour. The benefit of this is that you can clearly define the rules, include them in your terms of service and hopefully have a more objective approach rather than going with moderator’s gut feelings. It is also a good idea to clearly define what will happen given various breaks in rules, rather than going with your intuition. The main point here is that whatever your methodology is, just by having one you will inevitably do a better job.

Models

The Google Model

The Google Model for dealing with trouble makers is to attempt to create some variety of algorithm that will take care of the problem, usually automatically. There are two benefits to this particular approach:

1. This approach, once the algorithm is developed and utilized, does not require much time
2. It has a strong objective leaning as a result of it being run by a computer

It is worth noting that it cannot be completely objective because the programming itself can have an inherent bias, but it certainly has a strong objective leaning.

The Yahoo Model

The Yahoo Model for dealing with trouble makers may have changed recently, but previously their model was to basically give out light punishments to everyone involved in an issue. Take for example a flame war, in which two people are arguing viciously with each other and using personal insults.

The 4Chan Model

While using 4Chan as a model for managing an online community may seem ridiculous, it cannot be denied that it is a successful community. The 4Chan model of community management is essentially not to care what people do provided it is within the law. Provided you are willing to tolerate quite a lot, this model can work well.

Conclusion

The main thing is that you have a methodology and apply it evenly to make sure that your community, including administrators, work together effectively.

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