You Can’t Be a Part of Your Community’s Drama

You know what I despise? Community  managers who are part of a special clique within the communities they’re tasked with managing.  When community managers gossip, exclude,  and act as if certain members of their communities don’t belong it makes me cringe.

As community managers we’re expected to be unbiased. We’re to include everyone in our discussions, meetups, and outreach whether we care for them all or not. The community isn’t about us and how we feel about particular members, it’s about making everyone feel comfortable and welcome regardless of community drama.

Moderating doesn’t mean taking sides

Moderating a community discussion means asking questions, steering the conversation so that’s it’s on topic, and making sure everyone is being respectful and playing nice. It doesn’t mean parenting, though. So you should generally allow all conversation unless someone breaks the rules by being abusive, goes off topic, or swearing if swearing isn’t allowed. However, no matter how much you agree or disagree with anyone in your community, it’s up to you to remain neutral.

Taking sides looks like favoritism to a lot of people. When community managers show favoritism, it makes those who aren’t receiving the same level of approval feel bad. These bad feelings aren’t always directed towards the community manager, but to the community itself and, also, the brand. Remember, it’s not YOUR community. It’s your brand’s community. Everything you do is reflective upon them. If you are choosing to be part of a clique, it means the brand is also cliquish and exclusive and that’s not what community is about at all. Moderate, but don’t take sides. Not even in private.

Invite all or invite none

There’s no worse feeling that being a part of a community and learning every one has received an invitation to a meetup or party, but no one invited you. It’s tough being the person no one wants to invite anywhere. Every community has irritating or annoying people, but they are part of the community for the same reason everyone else is. It’s not up to the community manager to arbitrarily determine who is worthy of being invited to community functions. If you can’t invite everyone, you shouldn’t invite anyone.  It’s one thing to put up a first come, first served notice when hosting a party or meetup at a place with limited space. It’s an entirely different animal to handpick the people you’d like to participate.

Don’t complain about community members to community members

People want to be able to trust community managers. Nothing is more of a betrayal than when the community manager gossips about community members behind their backs, shares their private details or snarks about them to other members of the community  – even if those other members are friends with the community manager. If you do this, you need to reconsider your position. No matter how you feel about a certain person, you have to maintain professionalism at all times.

Community managers have to act like grownups 

Community managers are adults, they’re not holding court at the popular kids’ table in the high school cafeteria. Every community has its fair share of drama. Our job job  isn’t to get involved but to keep it at bay.

Have you seen community managers get involved in community drama? What usually happens to the community as a result?

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  1. Well said! I always refer people to you for best practices in Online Community Management.

  2. A really very useful post thank you-this is such a minefield and so annoying that the community managers do not act like grown-ups.

  3. BrandiJeter says:

    Awesome article, and a great reminder for Community Managers. Thanks, Deb!