Community Manager Tip: You Can't Please Everyone

We always need to keep in mind that every choice and every decision that we make, no matter how sound, will please some people, but not everyone. “You can’t please everyone” is a saying that you hear all the time, but I remember being in high school when the impact of this statement really hit me. At that young age, I vowed to think about decisions in a different light with a component of any decision being to understand which people I cared about pleasing, and more importantly, which people could jump in a lake if they didn’t like my decision. This dynamic applies to everyday life and isn’t unique to community managers, but it does come up often when making decisions on behalf of the community.

A few tips:

  • Think about the impact of your decisions on the most important contributors in your community. Don’t let trolls and chronic whiners who will never contribute in a meaningful way dictate solutions.
  • When a few people want a change, make sure that the change would benefit the community as a whole. Don’t let a vocal minority push a decision that isn’t in the best interest of the whole community.
  • Look past your preferences to embrace solutions that benefit the community, even if they aren’t your personal favorites. Do the right thing for the community, not the individual (even when that individual is you).

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Photo by Zen Sutherland used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

2 thoughts on “Community Manager Tip: You Can't Please Everyone”

  1. The naysayers are often so vocal that it’s easy for us to lose sight of the good we are doing for the majority of the community members. What I’ve found, Dawn, is that those people wouldn’t be happy with any change, even if it’s one they themselves suggested. This is the right attitude to have and the best approach. Good of you to remind the masses. It’s good to start a dialogue in the community when you want to get the pulse of the users as well. Sometimes you learn more from them in this type of setting and get to hear several sides.

  2. It seems so simple seen in bullet points and out of context, yet when we’re in the position of the decision maker, with a user waiting for our response, it’s so much tougher.

    The temptation is high to do what the very vocal ones do for fear of their reaction if they’re told that they won’t get their way. Yet, when presented in a factual and helpful manner, most of them don’t mind terribly that their feature request won’t be implemented.

    I think the “Don’t feed the trolls” image says it all; it’s so tempting to get involved with the difficult users when in reality, everyone wins out if we keep enough perspective to avoid debating with them. It just takes a very deep breath before responding!

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