02-05-12 079
Creative Commons License photo credit: rmartz

There is a particularly sensitive discussion being had on one of my communities right now and, as you probably know from dealing with sensitive discussions, they tend to take more attention from moderators than your average thread. This one is no different.

With that in mind, this thread also hasn’t been that bad, either. Most people who have participated in the thread have done so in an appropriate manner, with respect to our user guidelines. But, it is rare when you have a sensitive thread where there aren’t at least a couple of people who run into trouble.

As these members presented themselves, some posts were removed and they were contacted to make them aware of the violations to our guidelines. But, what can happen with sensitive topics is people get more emotionally invested and when their posts are removed, they are more ready to think it is because you have an agenda, not because of something they did.

In this thread, as of a couple of days ago, there had been a total of 18 different participants and only 3 had run into any issues with the guidelines. So, that means that 15 people were participating in a mature, appropriate manner.

And yet, 2 of the 3 people who had their posts removed asked for the thread to be closed. One privately and one in public, who said that there had been so “many” posts removed that it no longer made sense to discuss this issue.

Ignoring the fact that most people who posted on the thread were already engaging and discussing a sensitive topic in an appropriate way, for our community, the topic was no longer valid because these 2 did not know how to act. There’s a certain form of entitlement there, where you think that a discussion should be completely shut down simply because you can’t participate in line with the user guidelines, when most everyone else is.

Obviously, I didn’t close the thread. But, I was also pretty direct with the two members requesting it. I told them that most people who had participated in the thread had done so without any issue. Our community has been around for a long time and it doesn’t revolve around a few people. I am not going to prevent all members from discussing a topic because a few can’t do so in an appropriate manner. Any member who fits into that category can simply ignore the thread and not participate further.

At the end of the day, I don’t think they really liked what I told them. But, I think that being direct with members in these cases is beneficial because, even if they don’t like it, they know what they can expect and they can participate accordingly. And if they should continue down a bad path and require further action down the road, at least you were honest with them and gave them the opportunity to adjust.