|Forum Swan Songs|
Dealing with members leaving
I have a fairly large forum with lots of members coming and going. It seems like we often get new members who will be very active for a month and then get offended by something someone said and leave.
BEFORE they leave, however, they write a two page "Swan Song" about why they are leaving, how they are sorry that it happened, who were their friends, who they don't like, why the forum sucks and they can't be on it anymore, etc, etc.
The end result is lots of drama that drags on forever and brings the morale of the whole forum down.
Has anyone been able to deal with this in an effective way? It seems like it happens once a month or so on our boards, and it drives me nuts.
Could be a case of "easy-come easy-go", and some people really don't behave well in virtual public.
Another forum that I am involved with has a fairly high bar to entry which has reduced turnover at the expense of membership size and overall traffic. (The bar is mainly there to prevent various levels of SPAMming...)
Move the posts to "The Pond".
Have a nice, pretty picture of a pastoral pond populated by swans. Or happy tourists in a Swan Boat.
Maybe it should be like a lot B&M business. The minute you tell them you are leaving you are through. They tell them to clean out their desk and leave the building, Why?... Because management doesn't want them hanging around telling
the other employees how they have found this other super job that pays so much
more money and is a great place to work. They also don't want them hanging around bad mouthing their business.
If you monitor/moderate your forum very closely maybe you cant take down their swan song post. Maybe put up something in its place like "Dan has just left the building and bids you all a fond farewell" or some such.
You might have to put a clause in your TOS covering a situation like this ie;
"no post bad mouthing the forum or other members"its your forum not theirs...KF
We tried a ton of different approaches on 10,000+ active member site.
The only thing that came close to working was deleting the post, the resulting "what happened to so-and-so's post" thread, and any e-mail on the subject.
It feels unprofessional to do it but every other option lead to animosity developing between us and our users, fights between users, and wasted time.
jkosmin, what you describe is common on multiplayer online game forums or guild forums. They are there for attention. They build a character and somehow tie themselves to it emotionaly as well. They don't realise that they aren't the center of the universe after being in the game too long. It's a sickness, I bet most of those leaving long goodbye rant messages don't really leave either.
As a webmaster, reply with a short "Good luck on your lifes journey, friend" and then lock the account. Don't feel a need to explain your actions in any other posts either, you're the webmaster so do what you must for your site.
If the bugger is tenacious he'll linger for a couple of weeks and perhaps bother others but not for much longer than that. Thankfully a short attention span is par for the course.
One popular forum I frequent has a sticky'd thread where users post mock swan songs. When someone posts a real one, hilarity results and somebody inevitably makes reference to the sticky'd thread.
Hmmm.... we're going through this right now.
We treat it a bit differently - we give people the opportunity to say goodbye, and generally, try and say nothing but good things about them while it happens. We also let them delete their entire accounts - all their posts and other content contributions.
While sometimes it can drag out a bit, for the most part i think the "survivors" appreciate that we acknowledge everybody's rights to come and go as they please, with no hard feelings.
Farewell threads can be problematic because members often rehash old grievances, etc. Removal is the most effective approach. Something in the TOS explaining the policy would be a good idea.
Departing members will still sow discord with private messages, emails, IMs, but there's no sense in providing them with a soapbox on their way out the door.
It's too bad, because sometimes a farewell thread would be appropriate and welcome, e.g., a member who is leaving the country, starting a tour of military duty, etc. I haven't found a way to write the TOS to distinguish between good and bad ones, though. Sometimes, the leaving member can be quite subtle but still turn the thread into a gripe session.
Make the rules more strict for people that offend others. Like for example if somebody has been behaving badly and badmouthing about someone else with no particular reason then you should penalize the member with the big mouth. That way the offended member would feel like being protected and avenged if you will.
Good point, GC. In my experience, though, farewell threads rarely attack anyone specific. If the member is departing, he/she is more likely to make vague references to an unfriendly atmosphere, people who don't get it, etc. (if the problem is other members) or lack of freedom to discuss issues fully, etc. (if the problem is the forum administation and moderation).
These members are often good at staying within the letter of the TOS but still being annoying. If they were TOS violators, they would have been banned and have no opportunity for their swan song.