Jun 25, 2012 Community
Posted by Allison
The other day, I was thinking about how nice it is to write in niches like food and social media, where people are generally nice to one another. Sure these community have the occasional troll just like any community does, but in general, people are respectful. They disagree sometimes, but the drama is kept to a minimum. This is drastically different than a previous niche where I wrote (gaming) which seemed to be full of immature assholes who got off on ruining others’ days.
Some niches are just like that.
Or are they?
As I thought about it more, I realized that although some niches naturally have more trolls than others (you’re going to find more disrespectful comments on a game or celebrity blog than you are on a finance blog in most cases), I am the leader and ultimately the person responsible for my community.
When I wrote for the gaming blog, I would often pen feature pieces filled with opinion. I was aggressive and snarky, the same way lots of game bloggers are, because people responded to that style. One of the most popular pieces I wrote on the site was a post called, “No, I Won’t Have Sex With You,” which was about how annoying it is to just want to play a game online and have guys try to hit on your simply because you’re female. The tone of the post was accusing and even borderline mean.
I don’t apologize for this; it was a good post. But what kind of readers did that post attract?
Furthermore, rather than shut down any bullies or trolls that commented on that post, we rode the wave of popularity. Each increasingly vile comment or attack would lead to more comments and links and traffic. We allowed the negativity to thrive. We created that community.
Now again, the gaming niche is already full of jerks more so than other niches, but as the blogger, I have to take responsibility for creating a community where they were welcome. Myself and the co-founders of this blog could have shut it down. The post wouldn’t have been nearly so popular, but we could have moderated comments or stepped in to the conversation to make it clear that disrespect would not be tolerated. We did not.
So ultimately, we had to be responsible for the community of jerks we created.
Think about that when you are writer and when you are creating comment policies for your blog. Having a negative community like that is certainly a valid option. Some very popular blogs like Perez Hilton thrive on negativity. But then don’t complain when your community isn’t about kum-bi-ya, rainbows, and unicorns.
My life is much happier since we closed the doors at that gaming blog and I truly think that one of the reasons why is that I don’t have that negativity in my life anymore. For me, allowing the trolls room to flourish on my blog was not worth the stress. At the time, I blamed them, but ultimately it was my fault for shaping that community to be what it was.
What are you shaping your community to be?
- 19 Ways to Build Relationships With Blog Comments (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- When Internet Trolls Attack: Sherri Shepard Edition (clutchmagonline.com)
- Using Social Media to Make People Feel Special (waxingunlyrical.com)