What to do about a member who is upsetting the community?
As communities grow there will be people who disagree, and people who upset the community with their behavior, whether it is intended or not. It is inevitable.
It seems we have ourselves in this situation. I won't name names, but you probably know what I'm talking about. I had hoped this situation would have resolved itself, but it came to a bit of a head over the past several days.
While quietly addressing the situation yesterday, I disabled this member's ability to post comments. I didn't feel it was necessary to publicize that action, but maybe it would have prevented some more misunderstandings.
I learned that later last night this particular member was subsequently deactivated by one of our admins. This is a decision that I understand and respect, but the technical ramifications of that were such that I decided to reverse that -- especially since I had already prevented him from posting comments and been in discussions with him to resolve the problems. More on that in a bit.
Apparently some people noticed both the deactivation and the reversal and are troubled by the apparent lack of action, or worse, the appearance that I'm sticking up for this member.
I want to explain that.
Account deactivation is something that is for the purpose of quickly removing a spammer from FamilyTreeCircles. This action removes all posts and all comments for a particular user. Deactivating a member like this who has posted a large number of posts and comments makes a big mess and fills the site with thousands of "account deactivated" messages. Worse, it potentially took away good information from the comments in some members' journals. I feel that we can address this in other ways. It is also a last resort that I hope to avoid.
I do recognize that there is an issue to be dealt with and I'm committed to getting it resolved.
Here's what I am doing:
I've indefinitely disabled this member's access to make comments, as it seems this is the primary source of the behavior that is offending others. The only way I will reinstate that access is if I'm convinced that the member will participate in a way that does not offend other members.
I have not disabled his access to posting journals. I don't see the harm in him doing that unless he uses that as a vehicle to address others or this issue, in which case I'll take further action. I don't anticipate that will be necessary.
I have been in communication with this member to start a conversation about what has happened and what changes we can make if he wants to continue to participate in this community.
I will be investigating ways to improve FamilyTreeCircles to allow the community to better self-manage and deal with these issues better before they get out of hand. For example, voting on comments up or down, so that offending comments can be flagged and hidden. This is something that I'll work on in the coming weeks so the next time this happens, well, hopefully we'll prevent it. (I've already done this on journals with "Thank" and "flag". More on that in another post.)
I care deeply about FamilyTreeCircles. It is something that I've been working on as a passion project for several years and it is distressing to me when there are issues. I hope that I can have your support in getting through this bump in the road.
Pulling your posts and going away is your prerogative, but I hope you will not do that. Instead, if you ever have any comments or feedback about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Heck, call me: +1 617-910-0055. That's how much I care about this.
Thanks for your help, support, and understanding.
on 2011-03-22 09:16:58
Scott Jangro is the owner of FamilyTreeCircles.com and has documented roots back to Mayflower passengers Stephen Hopkins and William Brewster. If you're wondering what he's doing when he's mysteriously absent, here's some links to other stuff he's responsible for: about.me/jangro.