Why community managers need a thick skin (warning: strong language)

by Martin Reed on 15 June 2011 in Snippets

I got to enjoy the following emails alongside my breakfast this morning (both from the same individual):


Dont you ever ask me to change the name i use to go into your poxy chat room as the name i use is my name if your idiots that seem to think they are in charge ask me to change my name again i will make it my business to find your governing body and get you removed for discrimination.



As we don’t allow any sexual content whatsoever in the chat rooms at Just Chat (including chat names), this user was told to leave and change their name to something other than ‘Randy’ by one of our moderators. It appears they took issue with this and are now demanding restitution.

In cases like this, I don’t respond – no good would come out of it, and besides; when someone uses language like this they don’t deserve a response. Oh, and compared to some emails I get, this guy is a pussycat.

You can reduce the number of abusive emails you receive by making your community harder to join. Prevent anonymity, and make people work to get in. For Just Chat, that would go against what the site stands for – so I just let emails like this stand testament to the fact we’re doing a good job.

PS – In case you were wondering, this person’s real name wasn’t Randy (they forgot to change the Sender Name associated with their email address when writing to complain).

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Michelle June 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Glad you added that PS. That’s exactly what I was going to ask. :) But, did the moderator know it wasn’t his name? I agree with the policy in general but I can imagine if you ever had someone who is actually named Randy they could be quite upset at it. LOL!


Martin Reed - Community Manager June 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

It would have been difficult, Michelle. Unfortunately, we can never prove someone’s real name – so our moderators have to make a judgement call. In this case, it would appear that they were correct.

Eric D. Brown June 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Not to defend the person….but could it not have been a case of an ‘official’ email not matching the ‘unofficial’ name?

For instance – a good friend of mine’s real name is Robert. His email is robert.X@x.com. He goes by the name “Randy” (true story…not just making this up to match your offender here).

What would your admin’s do in this case? his email wouldn’t have matched his name but everyone calls him Randy. Of course, my friend wouldn’t have been quite as obtuse as your ‘Randy’ but you get the drift.

Managing communities / chat rooms is hard work…hats off to the people that do that regularly.

Martin Reed - Community Manager June 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm

That could of course have been the case (although the Sender Name was very different in this case). It’s a difficult situation – by default, someone using this name at Just Chat will typically be asked to change it (at the discretion of the moderator on duty at the time). If someone claims it’s their real name, then discretion to allow it to remain again lies with the moderator on duty.

That being said, this person did little to encourage us to change our mind.

Eric D. Brown June 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Makes sense…based on the responses in your original post, I think they should have left too.

Crystal June 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Great post! And it is so true. I’ve learned to let the emails roll on over my shoulder and I try to get a good laugh because I get emails 10 times harsher than this all the time. Sometimes I just look for the amusement in another adults immaturity. Taking any of it to heart only causes stress. I too tend to stop replying. Usually I’ll send the one general follow up and that’s it. My favorite so far has been when some guy told me that I wasn’t Homeland Security and I had no right to view his personal and private discussions on his chat wall. Even though our Terms of Service clearly state that we not only have the right to view but to edit or remove as well.

Rosemary ONeill June 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm

You’re absolutely right…an email like this just means you’re doing your job correctly. Rhino skin is one of the key qualifications for a good community manager!

Pervara Kapadia June 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm

This is indeed interesting. Thanks for this Martin. Community Management could go crazy if one looks at thinks on a personal level. I do manage Facebook Pages where people come and share links [Spam]. I promptly delete the same.


Mr Woc June 16, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hi guys

The post made me laugh, as I get these kind of emails daily, they are either usually abusive or some times veiled threats lol, usually saying they will report me to some body or the police or something, best just to ignore them really as you say no good can come out of it by arguing anyhow.


Patrick June 16, 2011 at 9:45 am

“i will make it my business to find your governing body and get you removed for discrimination.”

I love that stuff.


Bruce Willamstown June 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

an angry person indeed. I get that make it a little bit harder to join, but I have ‘joined’ some forums that require 250 validated posts before you can post a signature. I think there has to be a balance as if you make it too hard to join, no one is going to bother contributing.

I think you may have made the right choice about “randy”.

Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 7:10 am

A thick skin and a good sense of humor. The all caps wins my heart every time. People are just funny. Thanks for this helpful post.

Tommy T May 10, 2012 at 4:47 am

Ah, the good old rage e-mails. I actually enjoy getting them, especially from butt-hurt trolls I’ve out-witted.

I used to take them as a compliment, myself. If they’re that angry that they spend their time sending you abusive e-mails about being removed from the room etc – that means, they think the site is good enough for them to BE there in the first place. They want to be there. That, in my opinion, is a compliment.

I’ll be honest, in my younger days, I used to play with the trolls. Heck, nobody was trollier than I at one point, the age old saying of “never troll a troll” was lost on some of the butt-hurt abusers I used to get, but I often sent them over the edge and forced them into an even more fiery, red-faced, key-board bashing rage at my witty one liner quips directed towards them.

These days, in my new project, I will indeed take a much more professional approach and simply ignore any particularly abusive e-mails/comments, and reply politely to ones who are merely highly annoyed.