Online communities provide a service to all to be a place where ideas, experiences and networking can take place. These communities are populated with diverse individuals and with that diversity come great responsibility by community managers to ensure all are respected and welcome. In recent days, I have had to deal with the not so pleasant side of community management. When community members have a communication breakdown and all hell breaks loose, it is a moment all community managers dread. No one wants to deal with drama. You go from being “Julie the Cruise Director” to “The Evil One” in a quick trip; it’s not a fun a trip. It’s part of the gig when you decide to make the decision to bring a community to life and you have to deal with it with precision and tact. Your job is to ensure that all community members feel respected and safe; it’s not a popularity contest. Your community is not a high school clique. It’s professional outfit, as is my community . No one is coming there to participate in a soap opera. Everyone has jobs, lives. The internet seems to bring in those who look for an outlet from their own personal drama and they want to take it out on others. You have to be able to handle these situations with care.
I will not go into the drama in this case, it’s not pertinent, however, it did bring me to an important realization that my community needed to have a code of conduct. One might assume when dealing with adults you don’t need to have “rules” but one would be wrong. And after this series of unfortunate events, I decided we needed to have a code of conduct to let everyone know where we stood as a community to ensure in the future how we would operate.
When you start a community with the best of intentions you are bound to have a few who will take advantage of your goodwill and you must protect the community from those individuals. The community is not about one person, it’s about everyone, it’s about the vision and culture. If one person tries to overrun the community with their vile, bitter and hateful conduct, it will be all over for everyone.
The community manager, leader, must make the decisions to keep the mission and vision of the community at the forefront. It is no easy task and it is the job of community manager to ensure that community is protected from these individuals. You must keep the integrity of the community and remove those individuals who wish to damage it with their own personal hate agenda. The community is bigger than one person and they can be removed, regardless of their threats and bully tactics.
I have posted the code of conduct for my community and the feedback has been incredible. I have been very blessed with an outstanding group of professional, very mannered group of leaders who take their role in the community seriously. I appreciate their compliments on how I handled the situation, but to me they have been the brave ones to endure and continue to lead with grace as well. The drama has ended and there is fresh air where there was tension and bad vibes.
If you are experiencing “drama” I suggest you consider instituting such a code of conduct, you’ll be glad you did.