Not so fast, community manager

by Martin Reed on 31 May 2011 in Snippets

Recently, a member of the Just Chat message boards asked me to delete their account and all their posts. They’d been a member for five years and had made close to a thousand posts.

I let requests like this wait for at least 48 hours before I even respond. This gives members a chance to cool off and reflect.

In this case, I didn’t have to wait long. Before I had even responded, the member got back in touch and asked me to keep their account active. They have since continued to post as though they never had any inclination of leaving.

Two lessons here:

1. Imagine if I’d have acted immediately and deleted this member and all their posts, only for them to change their mind.

2. Yes, it pays to fight for every single member and it’s worth trying to change the minds of members who want to leave – but sometimes, you just need to give them time to cool off.

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Michelle June 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm

If they hadn’t changed their mind, would you have deleted the content?


Martin Reed - Community Manager June 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

It depends. I’ll always try to talk someone around, but if they are adamant I’ll normally honor their request.

I do reserve the right to refuse, though (I have a clause in the terms of my communities that gives me the right to use any content submitted by members). If I chose to exercise this right, I’d anonymize their content by changing the username associated with their content, deactivate their account and remove their email address and other profile information from the site.

More info: Who owns and controls the content in online communities?

Sue June 10, 2011 at 6:12 am

I agree with this. I give them breathing space too. 9 times out of 10 they end up posting again within a few days (some a few hours).

Michelle June 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

That anonymizing is what I do. Actually deleting their content would leave holes in the conversation and be a mess. Plus, there’s no way I can guarantee I got it all because other people might have quoted them. I have no problem removing their name and signature from the content but the content itself stays. I’ll make individual exceptions if there’s a particular piece of content that they really need removed but not just a blanket delete all because they decided to leave.


Michelle June 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

Just read the article you linked to. I love that TOS snippet there and it covers things quite nicely. May I use it in my own TOS?


Martin Reed - Community Manager June 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

I can’t remember where I purchased the TOS template from now, so can’t tell you for sure whether or not it’s OK to use. That being said, if you Google the copy you’ll see lots of sites using it, so I’m assuming it’s all pretty standard.

Michelle June 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Oh, templates! I keep forgetting that I was going to look at my copy of Managing Online Forums and see if there’s a TOS template in there. Just looked and there is. Cool. :)

Thanks for the reminder,


{ 1 trackback }