You can’t get away with hiding anything in an online community; community members will notice even the smallest things. While this is true in communities of every size, it is especially noticeable in large communities with many members. People are often under the mistaken impression that they can post something in a wiki or other content system, and as long they don’t link to it, no one will be able to find it. However, we have these things called search engines and recent changes pages where people can find everything. This is especially true now that everything seems to have an RSS feed or email notifications, since many users choose to have changes, like new web pages or wiki recent changes feeds, pushed to them to review whenever they have a few spare minutes.
This creates some interesting challenges and advantages for community managers:
- Advantage: Posting information early, especially in a wiki, gives you a place to collaborate with others and make the document better. Don’t worry about trying to hide things – get them out in the open early, and let people help you improve.
- Advantage: People will also notice spam quickly, and if you make it easy to report spam, you can keep the community spam free.
- Challenge: Once the information is out there, it is public. Deleting data on the internet is a myth, since it is cached, mirrored and in RSS feeds, and removing information from your community is likely to cause more negative responses than leaving it alone.
- Musings on Community Ownership
- Building a Community is like Hosting a Party. Don’t Be a Bad Party Host!
Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.
Photo by Keven Law used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.