Top 10 Ways to Make Your Online Community Suck

Many people face similar problems when launching an online community. They get the technology, staff, and policies in place, and wonder why in six months the community is ailing faster than a blighted plant. The good news is that this is entirely avoidable if you stay away from this top 10 list…

Here are 10 surefire ways to guarantee your online community will fall flat on its face:

1. When members cast criticism, become very defensive and shut them down in front of other members.

2. Don’t celebrate anything about the community – new members, great blog posts, riveting discussions – nothing.

3. Build your community website entirely in flash.

4. Never send a broadcast message – keep your members in the dark.

5. Don’t add welcome messages to new member pages.

6. Eliminate every kind of leaderboard. Discourage every form of competition.

7. Encourage members to write up blog posts pushing their products and services.

8. Let the spam messages run rampant and don’t apologize when they end up on your members’ profile pages.

9. As blog posts are contributed, never “like” or comment. Let them fester in the 0 comment zone while the owner fidgets uncomfortably determining he must be unpopular.

10. Ask members to pipe in blog posts on all sorts of unrelated topics.

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Matthew Stephen Worner

Are you telling me my community sucks? It has about the 3rd or 4th most members in the college and university community. FTW. lol.

Allen Sheaprd

Recognition seems trivial but makes all the difference. Leader boards offer low cost, low maintenance recognition. Twitter posts are great!!

robert bornhofen

Lauren – interesting list, especially the leader-board advice. As an academic, I am curious about the evidence you have to back this up. Case studies? Interviews? Primary or secondary research? Please share. Regards, Bob

Jeremy Ames

Brilliant! Also be very restrictive about who can join your online community–turn lots of people away. When a new member posts make sure to immediately scold her for posting in the wrong area. Never innovate by tweaking your user interface or adding new features, stick stubbornly to your original vision. Finally, make all decisions about the site yourself; never involve your community members.