Creative Commons License photo credit: Gonmi

Treat people as you want to be treated.

I apply the golden rule to a lot of different circumstances, including how I manage my communities, with respect to other communities.

I’ll give you a few examples.

It’s not unheard of that a member of a community, not necessarily mine, but any, would complain about another one that they have joined previously and participated in and/or been banned from.

That community is the worst. The administrator is a jerk and a megalomaniac. This community is so much better.

Whatever. I don’t want it, and I don’t want those type of “complements,” for a few reasons.

I don’t want my community to become a complaint forum for other communities. I don’t care that is terrible. You are on right now. We’re a different community. Focus is important.

These things have a way of becoming a regular topic on some communities where they regularly talk about or reference the fact that this other site is terrible. I don’t want that to become a part of our culture. It makes you look bitter and petty.

Finally, I don’t want to start some sort of conflict with the other community. Even if I don’t like them, to do so is a waste of my time and will only lead to bad things.

As an aside, you being banned from some site may buy you points with the “down with the man and/or forum administrators are like Hitler” crowd, but for me, it just makes you look like you might have issues following guidelines and being respectful of them.

Another example is member poaching.

Poachers are the bad guys. Don’t ever forget that. It may not seem like a big deal to do a little covert poaching on some huge community with thousands of members. But, it comes back to the simple principle of: would I want them to do this to me?

I’ve had people try it on my community, only to visit theirs and find that they didn’t even allow people to link to outside websites in their own signature. Not that different communities can’t have different advertising related guidelines, but to try to funnel people from my site to yours and then do that, represents a certain type of irony.

The final example I’ll give is a sort of reverse example.

I run If I saw someone at another Photoshop related community regularly posting that “you might get a better answer at,” even if I was not affiliated with them, I would contact them myself and ask them to stop, immediately. It’s not “word of mouth marketing,” it’s “unseemly spammy garbage” and it reflects poorly on me.

I had a member who was doing this on my site. They were posting, answering questions, but saying you might get a better answer at this other site. They were generally being helpful beside that, so I just followed it for a while and as they continued, I contacted them privately to have a conversation about it.

Basically, I said that the other community looked great, and that it was nothing to do with them, but that we are a community of the same topic and people who come here want to get answers here. It’s not appropriate to tell them to go to some other forum on the same topic, as it takes away from the community we are building here.

His response was to say that he’d leave my community. I’m fine with that. At least I was honest with him and gave him the respect to politely explain the issue and ask him to keep it in mind. If he doesn’t want to reciprocate that respect, and he is here to simply funnel our members to some other community, I don’t want that.

So, while it might be fun for you to think of other communities that cover a similar topic as “evil” or “the enemy” (this is not something I engage it), don’t lose sight of the fact that you should not treat them in a way that you yourself would not want to be treated. What goes around comes around.