There are a number of gems and plenty of good thoughts in Kanye West’s inspirational book, “Thank You and You’re Welcome.” I’m going to highlight one of them today, from page 43. “Never Justify Your Behavior With the Wrongs of Others.”

Kanye says, on the next page, that you should never begin any points with “But you.” He also says, “You must learn to fight the impulse of believing: It’s not fair that you can do it and I can’t.”

As community administrators, this is something that we must express to our members, sometimes. When some people are cited for a violation of our user guidelines, they will respond by saying that they saw someone else do it or that someone else was allowed to get away with it. If they can do it, why can’t I?

This logic is broken. But, in communicating this, we have to be delicate, so as to not make the situation worse. Let me give you an example conversation. Here is a message I might receive from a member:


I’ve seen this happening everywhere on this site. I don’t know why I am being treated different from everyone else. Why can they do it and I can’t?! I think I’m being unfairly targeted!


Despite what I might actually like to tell this person, as far as how much I care for the claim that we are operating with bias and where they could deposit said claim, I must maintain my professionalism and do what I can to keep this moving in a productive direction because that is my responsibility, as the administrator. I might say:

Hello Joe,

Thank you for your message.

Here at, we have guidelines that outline what types of behavior are allowed and not allowed in our community. These guidelines are fairly and evenly enforced and all members are expected to comply with them. You are not being treated any differently than any other member.

While we are able to read a majority of contributions, we are not able to read all of them. For this reason, we ask for and encourage all members to help us by reporting any potential violations to a member of staff so that they can receive the appropriate attention and can be handled as soon as possible. If you could please direct me to the specific posts where you saw members violating our guidelines in this fashion, that would be great. After reporting a violation, you should forget about it – please don’t respond to it. We appreciate your help.

Regardless of what another member does, each member here is responsible for their own actions and will be held accountable for them. Something isn’t acceptable just because you saw another member do it. It’s important to consider what you post, before you post it, independently of what others have done. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me.

I appreciate your time and cooperation.



My aim here is to make sure the member understands that “they did it, so I can!” isn’t going to be happening in my community. They’ll be held responsible for their own actions and won’t be allowed to justify them by pointing to others. We want (really want) members to report violations to us so we can get to them right away, so I wanted to be sure to express that, as well.

This idea of responsibility is even more important for staff members, of course. Staff members must always hold themselves to a higher standard than members. When a member attacks them, they can’t respond to that with an attack. Spider-Man 2 has some worthwhile wisdom here:

Harry Osborn: Peter… you killed my father!
Spider-Man: There are bigger things happening here than me and you.

There are bigger things happening here than you and the person you are speaking with. This is something I always try to impress upon my moderators. It’s about you and what you say – not them.

This applies to the administrator, as well. I carefully consider everything that I do and say. I make mistakes, but they are rare because I am careful. Don’t fall into the danger of overthinking – but, don’t let the avoidance of that danger drive you to not think at all. As the administrator, everything you say can have an impact. Make sure your words have the right impact.