|When your involvement with your community gets too deep|
Developing an online community usually requires constant attention, participation, nurturing... certainly until it gets to critical mass, which may take years. Thereafter, it's up to you.
However, what happens when your involvement with that community starts to consume you? Further, your will to move the forum forward led you to participate personally, speaking in some detail about your personal experiences, relationships (my forum focuses on cultural misunderstandings, with regards work ethics and relationships etc etc) and you eventually realise that you revealed too much about yourself, your private life and your personality. Perhaps your closest friends are key members of that community...
How do you deal with it?
[edited by: Asia_Expat at 6:13 pm (utc) on May 7, 2008]
Sooner or later, you are going to have to adapt your personal processes to deal with the community growth.
- mission statement for the community. Make two. Make one you you put public for the community to see, and one you keep private with more personal goals.
- Get specific about what steps you are going to take to attain those goals. Be realistic about time frames and markers you need to hit.
- Make up a talking points/topic points list of things you personally should be talking about in the forums. Whenever you find yourself wandering, go back to that list and stick to it. Avoid off topic chatter.
- Be professional. Anytime you wish to talk on a personal level - go to another site, or you work up an alter ego until it plays itself out.
- Make and follow through on the tough decisions. If someone is a huge disruptive force in the community, then work with them, or ask them to leave. This is one of your most important actions.
- The web is an open book, there is no such thing any more as "revealed too much about yourself". It is better to do it yourself than let someone else do it.
Interesting thoughts there Brett, thanks... especially your last comment. I chose not to use domain privacy, even though in my particular niche, there are some very nasty competing webmasters just over the border in Thailand who will relish digging up any dirt on other webmasters and publishing it... I've seen it happen to a few in the last few years. Maybe it's just pictures of them or their wife... but it's upsetting and infuriating for them nonetheless.
Anyways, regarding your last comment, that's what I chose to do... and it had the effect of shutting other webmasters up i.e. there was no mystery anymore. However, I sometimes wish I had not revealed so much about my personal life and character.
It probably wouldn't be the community it is if you had not shared like you did, Asia.
Thanks Brett. Especially this part "Make and follow through on the tough decisions." I needed a little driving force today. I have to do exactly that and I am dreading it.
I find that it's very easy to be a mod, or an admin of these types of sites (i have a few message boards of my own.)
Really i feel it's always been more about the content that coaxes people to sign up and participate rather then my personal opinions on xyz. It's really just the same as real life. You have to come up with your own list of personal boundaries and sticking to them.
Posting the questions and with-holding your answers is sometimes a very basic way to start the talk without contributing.