Exploring Marshy End of Cheney Pond
Creative Commons License photo credit: andyarthur

If you run an online community, some people will refer to you as Hitler. Or some derivative. It’s a part of the job and is often a sign that you are doing your job well.

But, you know, not everyone thinks that you’re Hitler, some people do appreciate what you are trying to do. Some people appreciate that you make them aware of the guidelines and what they can and cannot do, some people appreciate the effort that you put in, when it comes to moderation, because they’ve been at communities that didn’t.

Last month, phpBBHacks.com, a community that I founded and run, turned 10 years old. We celebrated and it was amazing to look back at the past 10 years. On May 21, KarateForums.com, another community that I founded and run, also turned 10 years old. And, yes, I am feeling old.

We’re in the process of celebrating that milestone now, as a community and people are saying a lot of beautiful things that are really touching. One of the things that resonated with me was how people were expressing their appreciation for the administration and moderation of the site and how past staff members were looking back at the work that we did.

Read this post by Bob (sensei8), this one by Jay and this one by ps1. For the past staff perspective, check out the posts by Doug, Tammy, Greg and James. This is what it’s all about.

Bob tells the story of how we had some early issues with violations of our guidelines, to the point where I had to send him a very direct message where I laid out the path that we’d have to go down if those sorts of actions continued. He is someone who got the message, who realized that it had to change and who appreciated that we were there to point it out. He’s since become one of the more active and visible members of the community, setting a great example for other members to follow. That is not something I take credit for – that is to his credit and we’re glad to have him.

Jay and ps1’s posts are more brief, but also meaningful. Jay says this is the only forum he actively participates in, because it’s the only one that is fun to be a part of. ps1 revealed that, when he was in Iraq, the community gave him a “a sense of home” and a “connection to the art and type of people I had left behind.” How can you beat that? I can’t say I didn’t get a little emotional as I read through some of this.

For me, Doug’s post really well explains the motivation of our team in moderation and in how we deal with the community as a whole.

“Having been on staff in the past, I know we struggled to gently guide the community in the right direction, without dampening the spirit of those wanting to trade ideas and points of view. So many would see their own conversation going in an unproductive manner and correct themselves quickly when it was pointed out. But a few let pride, experience on other forums or whatever blind themselves into thinking they were doing nothing to degrade the level of conversation.”

We have a special section where these discussions are housed, in honor of the celebration, and it includes all of these posts and more.

Here’s the message: yes, some people will treat you badly when you have to remove their content or their post for some reason. Yes, some people will be exceptionally mean to you and disrespectful. Yes, those people will dominate your memory at times because they are so extreme and can be hurtful.

But, no, they are not all there is – they are not the majority. The majority is a usually silent bunch of people who simply enjoys participating in the environment that you have managed. Sometimes, when prompted, they express this in a way that touches you. But, beyond that, they are doing what you want them to do: enjoying the community.