Dealing with negative posts on community - How do you manage Vitriolic behaviour?


(Scott Hawkins) #1

Hi all,

I work for a Hosted Contact Centre Software Provider (NewVoiceMedia) and in the main our support community is littered with questions and answers around the products and services we offer and everyone gets along fine…however, recently we have had a couple of individual customers who seem hell bent on nothing constructive, but just venting anger at the number of issues they may have had with us, how bad our support team is etc.

I know (after 9 years of working here) that it’s not the truth and the very large majority of customers might have the odd issue but nothing to the level that these customers say they are treated by support/Ops.

I just wondered how other dealt with really negative community members and wanted to know if anyone had any tips?


(Travis King) #2

Oh boy I know those types of users well.

What does your community rules say? Not long ago we added some more clarification to ours to prevent a negative trend that we noticed was starting.

We value and preserve the right to be critical on our forums, but that criticism must:

Be directed at ideas, never people or groups.
Be delivered in a way that endeavours to be respectful and constructive.

Perhaps something like that would help? Some people are just always going to be negative and that’s community poison. You’re smart trying to get that out as soon as you can.

(Richard Millington) #3

Hi @ohno

Very good question. There are some subtle and rather less subtle ways of dealing with this.

The subtle approach is to create a place for complaints which doesn’t appear on the homepage and ask members to submit their feedback there. If they break the rules, you simply move the posts across until they get the idea that’s where those posts belong.

Another is to contact them personally. Set up a time to have a call, really listen to their concerns, and see if you can build a relationship with them. It’s typically harder to attack someone you have spent time talking to in real time.

If neither of the above work, I’d probably be looking at removing them. If they’re not a good fit for the community, if their posts are hurting others, it’s time to move them on. There’s no requirements that you need to accept everyone who wants to participate.

(Scott Hawkins) #4

Hey Richard,

Thanks a lot for your recommendations here. We are in dialogue with the customer who has been posting now via email to try and get a conversation with him, so we have taken your advice.

Secondly, we will look at the idea of having a separate feed for complaints as this seems like a no-brainer!

By the way, just got myself a copy of Buzzing Communities, arrived today…looking forward to starting to read this.

Be really nice if it could be produced in audible too as I listen to a lot of books. There just isn’t that many good audible versions of books on Community…

Cheers, thanks again


(Scott Hawkins) #5

Hey Travis,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I really like this guideline ‘rules of engagement’ too! WE will definitely consider putting something like this onto our community discussion page and see if this changes the tone from some individuals.

Couple with Richard’s idea below, I think we are certainly going to be able to manage these instances much better in the future so again, I thank you both for your answers.

Have a great day buddy


(Darren Gough) #6

This might be of interest in terms of setting this up and what goes on:

If you register, you’ll also see there’s a more granular board to discuss forum rules etc that’s hidden to visitors but available to members.

(Nicole Relyea) #7

Our Community Guidelines include this:

“Be respectful, friendly, and sincere
Use appropriate tone and language”

as well as

“Do not post or link to content that disparages Zendesk, its vendors, partners, or affiliates;”

and states that any comment that violates these guidelines may be removed without warning.

We will usually remind users who are getting mean to be respectful and we try to offer a transparent explanation for the thing they’re upset about. If that doesn’t work we just start removing posts and pointing to the guidelines. When we remove a post we do reach out privately to let the user know why and offer them an opportunity to further discuss whatever it is that they’re upset about.

(Scott Hawkins) #8

Thanks @nic_says_hi. We have started to use some text at the top of our discussions forums and we haven’t seen any repeat of anything negative as yet. We have also reached out privately outside of the forum to work through any issues they may be having. I guess that should be standard practice.

Really appreciate the reply, thanks again!

(Nicole Relyea) #9

Sure thing!