Big Brother is everywhere. He knows everything, controls everything.
Does he belong in your communities?
The biggest fear I come across when building communities for clients is the loss of control over the content. What if my competitor comes into my community and spreads lies about my product? What if the people who participate don’t know what they are talking about and they cause one of my clients to do something wrong? What if the community I am building becomes a depository for all that’s wrong with my product?
They think the answer is building “controls” to make sure the information in the community remains “pure’. They resort to censorship.
Censorship has no place in the community.
It only takes a few incidents of censorship for the community to vanish. If a negative entry is entered into the community, and it magically disappears – they will notice. And they will stop contributing. It is the same if you have moderated messages. Why would you have the right to control the conversation? Either you let it flow, or you don’t provide the platform. You have to trust your community to be self-policing and self-healing.
Alas, you can only hope your community becomes the repository for complaints about your product.
Take Dell as an example, while they continued to ignore the complaints from their customers on quality, shoddy technical support, and long delays, their clients built their own communities (to the tune of DellSucks.com, or DellBlows.com or others I cannot print here). At that time, they lost total control of ability to do something about it. It was only when they brought the conversation to their own servers that they succeeded at making the necessary changes.
You have to realize that you cannot control the community. It grows organically, and it remains independent. Else, it dies. You have to sacrifice control to gain insights and feedback.
Are you willing to cede control to the masses? Or would you rather fail?