Closing a community that's become a "moan zone" or opening new?

(MHCommMgr) #1

In a previous thread Can you use negativity in a positive way? I discussed what was going on in my communities, specifically one that is meant to be for our ambassador program, so ambassadors can share strategies, and has about a dozen negative members posting complaints and generally never being pleased about anything.

For a time, it got better, but recently we decided to be more direct with them about changes to our site that were not going to happen, and they have taken off again in a negative direction.

I know the benefits of having a moan zone, but the problem is that I feel so Pollyanna and strange when I try to post things that we would normally post, like celebrating ambassador anniversaries or making announcements about the site.

I’m tempted to close this moan zone and just let them all have their chats offline, or open a new community for sharing announcements from me and just staying out of their moan zone. Thoughts?

(Sarah Hawk) #2

I think that sounds like a legitimate response to a toxic situation which you’ve worked hard to resolve in other ways.

I think any decision like this ultimately comes down to pros and cons. I think the benefits of shutting down are obvious – are there any downsides (other than negativity, which is moot since that is already happening)?

(MHCommMgr) #3

Hi Hawk, sorry I did not respond and pick up this thread…

I am still having trouble with this and we are moving forward with either a) making this community a moan zone and not moderating it anymore (I do the moderation) or b) closing it entirely.

Downsides to an unmoderated moan zone are that ambassador members may complain about site problems and we won’t know about them. We’ll very clearly label other ways to do this, but they’re so used to putting comments here they may not use the other features we have for this. Also that then their only direct line of communication to me and the moderators will be email or PM. It’s just that it’s taxing to be part of this very negative group in which only about 6 to 10 members are active and they are all negative.

Downsides to closing it entirely are that they are already pissed at me for various reasons, and will probably just be more pissed that they don’t have a forum. It will be like I’m “punishing” them and it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back so that they leave.

Would love to know anyone’s thoughts on this.

(Gear Buzz) #4

Can you ban the toxic 6 for a few months?

Have you spoken to them personally over the phone?

(Sometimes a “do you realise that you are ruining this?” conversation can have a positive outcome)

(Travis King) #5

It’s never fun to take the “hard line”, but it’s necessary when the community is being destroyed by a toxic few that refuse to follow your community guidelines. If you’ve already reached out to the trouble makers and given them a warning, then a ban is your next step. While I always prefer to reinforce positive than punish negative, sometimes the ban hammer is your best tool.

I would only look at closing things down if the forum is no longer providing any value, it no longer works for your objectives (perhaps a help ticket style system would work better than forums?), or needs to be completely canned and started anew.

(Graham Perrin) #6

@MHCommMgr please, how did things turn out?

I applaud the efforts to which you went, the depths to which you engaged (allowing yourself to be taxed) but frankly – and from the previous topic, I am aware of the sensitivities – if going out of your way to provide an exceptional space can not lead to any shift away from negativity:

  • it’s a bad space that can and should be concsientiously closed.

The running out steam that was described by @Darren_Gough is a good thing.

If none of the steamers in the small group are willing to drop below boiling point, close it.

This may seem flippant, but the first phrase that came to mind was:

“Please move on.”


“Move along please.” – as might be said by a bus driver when people near the front of the aisle need to step back to make room for fellow human beings. It’s a perfectly reasonable request.

Just rarely, a terse but polite word of authority can help a verbose troublemaker to realise that there’s a better space, and it’s up to that person to create or join that space.