Creative Commons License photo credit: katell717

Generally speaking, it is important for a community manager to be as unbiased as possible. They need to be able to make fair, consistent situations and not allow their affection (or lack of) for a particular person, group or object to sway them from that consistent decision making process.

But, to say that we are without bias at all is to say that we are not human. And that’s not true. We aren’t robots. However, if we are good at what we do, then we are capable of recognizing when our own bias might affect a decision and do our best to make sure that it doesn’t.

One way to do this is to ask other members of your team, if you have any, what they think, especially if they are unlikely to have the same bias. That’s a good thing to do.

Back when I ran a sports community, I came up with a very simple trick that allowed me to consistently make the right decisions. If you are a sports fan, you love your team. Your team probably has some rivals that you don’t love as much. That’s natural.

If not the greatest, one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports belongs to the Major League Baseball teams the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. I was born a Yankees fan. I’m pretty friendly on this topic and my acquaintances who are Red Sox fans will attest to the fact that I am pretty sensitive when their team loses and am not really one to rub anything in.

Still, because of that bias, it might be easier to read an inflammatory comment aimed at the Red Sox and think it was OK, when I might not think it was OK if someone said it about my Yankees. This is a problem.

Here is how I solved it: whenever a potentially questionable comment came up about either team, I trained myself to read it as the opposite. If the comment was about the Yankees, would it be OK if it was said about the Red Sox? If the comment was about the Red Sox, would it be OK if it was said about the Yankees?

Eventually, it grew to be more than just Yankees/Red Sox – often, when a borderline inflammatory comment was made about a specific team (any team, really), I would often say to myself, “what would I think if this were being said about my favorite team?” My goal was to put myself in the same position that the fans of that team would be in, with the goal of preserving a friendly, respectful community for all.

So, if you are dealing with a topic that you may have some level of bias towards or against, change the terms and consider the opposite. That will help guide you to the truly appropriate decision.