Ban All the ThingsFunny things happen when I write about the ability to ban people from an online community, as I did a month ago. I think it makes people uneasy, like it’s not something I should be talking about.

Some feel compelled to tell me how they don’t like to ban people, as if writing about it suggests that I do. Others tell me they prefer to take a softer approach, like I am a ban-crazy maniac. I prefer a lot of things – it doesn’t mean that all scenarios actually end up where I prefer. When I write about banning, the meme image to the right is how some see me, I’m sure.

And then there are the rare occasions where someone says they have never banned anyone.

If you’ve never banned anyone from your community, one of the following is likely true:

  1. You are new to community management.
  2. Your community is very small.
  3. Your community bans most of the world by default because it is exclusive, private or an internal community for employees, clients, etc.
  4. You’re not being totally honest.
  5. You’re not doing a good job.
  6. You’re not really involved in online community (for instance, some social media marketers use the “community manager” title).

I’m sure there are exceptions, but the vast majority of people, who say they have never banned someone, fall into at least one of those categories. It’s just not realistic.

Banning isn’t something we need to run from. It’s not something that you have to be ashamed of or get defensive about. It’s also not something that people enjoy doing. It just is. Sometimes it may not be called “banning.” It may be hiding or de-emphasizing. Whatever you call it, it’s a simple necessity. Let’s not make banning out to be some odd thing or a sensitive subject that we have to explain around. Let’s not downplay the less fun, less glamorous, sometimes more stressful but necessary parts of our job. That would be doing ourselves and our communities a disservice.

I think most people in this space understand that – certainly anyone who has been around the block a few times – but I wanted to take a moment to discuss it, for anyone who might be newer and/or unsure.