Influencing community behaviour by your leadership

hari

Tazmanian
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Jan 2, 2006
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hari submitted a new Article:

Influencing community behaviour by your leadership

One of the few aspects of forum management that many admins take for granted is in fact the most important aspect of community administration - leadership. A lot of community administrators take for granted the fact that their admin status somehow bestows upon them an aura which puts them in a position of respect from where the members would follow them unquestioningly.

While it's one thing having the power of administration, it's completely a different story as to how your power actually influences community behaviour. Because no forum software gives you a way to control behaviour on your forum. Sure you can edit, delete, move, lock and such, but ultimately are you using those powers more as a way to clean the mess left behind by disgruntled members or are you able to affect your community by the way you conduct yoursel? I think this is very important. Certainly I'm not advocating that a community leader doesn't need the control. Certainly he does. But it does not automatically follow that those who wield this power will gain the trust and respect of your community members.

So how then do you influence community behaviour? I'll try and share a few thoughts on this.

Choose your staff team carefully

Choosing the right team is one of the most difficult aspects of community administration. It doesn't help if you appoint the first ten members of your newborn community as moderators. It's hard enough to judge people over a period of time, but it can be near impossible to pick the best members by choosing a moderation team when you don't need one.

Here are some qualities of ideal staff members:
  • Won't "flip-flop" on issues. People who stay relatively neutral when controversial topics are discussed or stay away from them.
  • Won't take themselves too seriously and are able to exhibit a sense of humour.
  • Are emotionally stable and secure. Believe me, I can judge how moods can affect posting behaviour over a period of time. Observation is a very good guide to judge this.
Stick to a small team initially. Try and pick people who are on the same wavelength as you are. This can either be easy or difficult based on how well you can judge people. But most people who've been online for a while have an instinct about the right people. You can develop this by observing how people post on your forum.

I won't go into how you pick the right moderators. A lot of it is gut feel and instinct. And that's a topic by itself. But community behaviour...
Read more about this article here...
 
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Demosthenes

Resident Mancunian
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Mar 10, 2004
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You're writing some great articles lately, harishankar. Keep them coming :D
 

hari

Tazmanian
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Jan 2, 2006
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Thanks shaon and ccs for your kind words! :)
 

ccs

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Mar 25, 2006
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Thanks harishanker, I love reading your articles. I hope to see more in the future.
 

vicshek

Neophyte
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Jul 21, 2006
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hi there, i am just an newbie of Admin Zone and glad to see this great article.

For what I have observed in the Internet forums/groups, people stay because of the atmosphere of the community rather than the technological advance (though it's important too). The technology is a ship and the admin teams is the captain.

harishankar said, "Resolve it(conflict) through private communication and keep the forum free of personal issues", I totally agree. Putting things in a public way give you in a risk of no turning back and people become harder to compromise. Using PM(private message) which included in almost every forum software is a smart choice in my opinion.

It's really challenging and fun too to be a leader of virtual community.
 

dojo

Passionate admin
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
3,772
Already used to see good articles from you Hari. even if we disagree in few admin issues I respect your point of view. In fact I find this article to be perfect :)

Keep us entertained with more nice articles ;)
 

hari

Tazmanian
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Jan 2, 2006
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dojo, thanks a lot. Sorry for the late response. I've been away for a while from TAZ and it's nice to come back and see more positive responses to my article. I appreciate your feedback. :)
 

PapillionPurple

Habitué
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Sep 11, 2006
Messages
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I'd say even the wording of the rules comes under leadership.
When I started out with KWO I had a list of very forboding "thou shalt not" style rules, and no reasons why. Consequently I had a fairly high ban rate, and a high infraction rate amongst my members.
Last October though I had a bit of a freak out over the situation and so my partner and I sat down and looked at the rules.
We then spent 4 hours rewording them, making them more of requests than demands and explaining why the rules existed. We also devised a positive sanctions system as a flip side to our fairly heavy duty negative sanctions system.
Currently we are just waiting until our in-house artist becomes available for comission before enacting the positive side of the forum.
In the last 11 months I have had to ban 2 people. One of who was a compulsive liar and impersonating one of my members on myspace (he's somewhat of a minor celebrity) and the other for trolling. I haven't had to issue warnings to anyone except the troll and it's taken on a more pleasant atmoshphere (or so I hope!)
 

hari

Tazmanian
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Jan 2, 2006
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Thanks for the feedback, everybody. Much appreciated. :)
 
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