Online content moderators are like members of your neighborhood watch. Just like your local community, Internet users are free to interact with one another and express contrasting opinions on different matters. But just like any forms of organization, there will always be people online who won’t behave the way you expect them to.
Some community members will be impolite, while some will aggressively attack other people with hurtful comments. If left unmonitored, your growing community can become susceptible to negativity in the forms of threats, online bullying, fraudulent reviews, spams, or vulgar posts. As a community manager, how should you respond to these kinds of members?
To ban or not to ban users?
Using your power as a community manager to remove or ban members from your online community may not be aligned with the very principle of community building. Any online community manager would always want to see the community under his watch to grow and have new members. Getting rid of some would definitely not be a priority.
Banning members, however, is a necessary measure that needs to be enforced in certain situations. Memberships need to be repealed to make sure everyone in your online community follows the rules and interacts harmoniously with other members. True, community growth should be a matter of concern, but protecting the community from abusive users is also non-negotiable.
Here are some instances where banning members is the most appropriate course of action to follow:
• When they violate the same rules several times despite constant warning
• When their online activity is hugely spent on spreading spam messages to promote their websites
• When they attack other people through hateful comments
• When they create multiple fake accounts just to troll other community members or fabricate reviews
• When they constantly engage in public arguments with moderators just to make them look bad
When deciding whether to ban a user or not, you need to ask yourself: Are the offenses committed getting so out of hand that no other form of repercussion can be implemented to teach the user a lesson?
How to avoid abusing your power to ban
Of course, the situations above should not be treated as automatic indicators that will give you the go signal to ban members. The decision to force people out of your community must always be done after careful evaluation and after less harsh measures have already been exhausted.
There are also different forms and extent of banning that you can apply. The ban may last from a couple of weeks to months depending on the gravity of the mistake done by the user. Repeat grave offenders must be given heavier punishments so that you can show your community that you are serious about protecting your website or social media platform.
Banning is usually the last option that moderators use as a form of penalty. Offending members must always receive a warning about the potential ban during their first time of violating your rules, so that they can be held accountable for their actions afterward.
As the number of members in your community increases, the need to implement stricter content moderation practices also becomes more pressing. Banning users may lead you to lose some of your members, but if these members are not doing your community any good and are instead hurting the overall quality of interaction happening there, then blocking them from your online platform is the wise thing to do.