One of the sites that I program manage, Sun Forums, is one of the most widely used of all Sun community sites (more than 800k users who have posted nearly 4 million messages).
While the site has served as a useful communication conduit, it’s had plenty of struggles — many around community management. To help mend some fences, the core team created a “News and Updates Forum” where any of the users have direct access to the core team. Via the forum, we’ve taken some rightful beatings, but it’s proven to be a place where we can gather amazingly rich, well thought out suggestions from our power users and a few new users — a place where we fully open our ears, pull up our sleeves and DO SOMETHING with the feedback. We’re a very small team, but we’re making progress and are committed to continue to do so.
One of the downsides to the News and Updates forum is a large volume of off-topic posts. The team of users and forums core team members have implemented a few tweaks and processes to help redirect off-topic posters to a more appropriate forum. These changes have helped, but the off-topic posts continue (a few per day).
Today, one of our power users posted the following in response to an off-topic poster:
“Could you explain how you came to post your query in this topic? For some reason people keep doing this. It’s a fairly obscure topic name and section, so there’s a bug (real or usability related) that causes people to do this. This thread will be deleted in a minute, but if you could explain how it got here first that might be helpful.”
Gee, why didn’t I think to ask that? Excellent Question, Dave! 🙂