Sunday, January 15, 2012

eTrolls: The Persistent Idiot

eTrolls: The Persistent Idiot


Patrick O'Keefe (@patrickokeefe)  has 54 Amazon reviews for his work "Managing Online Forums". 51 rate the book at 5 stars and the other three reviews are not substantial enough to diminish the work.

O'Keefe provides a sweeping survey of the most common problems, shows examples, and provides very tangible remedies (including templates).  

After skimming the entire book, I returned to deep dive and take notes on Chapter 3 "Developing Guidelines" and Chapter 6 "Banning Users and Dealing with Chaos". These 50 pages should be required reading for all Social Media experts. For the small blogger that just wants some discipline and control - these 50 pages are all you need to read. 

Most blogs will never grow a community large enough to have dedicated staff to deal with eTrolls. The ability to spot spam, "Introtisements and Adverquestions" (page 165), and other miscreants is very important to even the smallest community manager. 

Your site, community and content must be managed, or the eTrolls will manage it for you!


The MarketWatch Example:

MarketWatch provides an excellent forum for posts about money, finance and other economic topics. Their boards are frequently attacked by eTrolls - typically with obvious posts trying to sell retail goods. But they also suffer from "Persistent Idiots" (page 203). Not only are these users right about every opinion they post, but they are willing to provide correction to every other post in your community. 

A frequent problem is that some eTrolls may have enough "tenure" or points, or other community standing - that it is difficult to neutralize their acidic influence. In my opinion MarketWatch needs to assign this book to their Forum Moderators, then employ more of the strategies espoused by O'Keefe. 

O'Keefe calls the forum manager to create guidelines, manage users to those guidelines, then factually (and ruthlessly) starve the eTrolls. 

Bottom Line

"Managing Online Forums" is about managing your customer dialogue. Abdication of this critical role to the eTrolls is a sure route to failure. 


~Xolo