Yep, “Bozo” is the troublemaker in online communities. The guy (or girl) that stirs things up. Craves for attention. Has little to no social skills. In short, a community manager/webmasters worst nightmare.
Online communities are essentially about social interaction. And, as in the offline-world, where there is social interaction unpredictability is a sure thing. In fact, as Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “…these interactions are the primary drivers for troublemakers in communities”.
Ok, so the bad news first – you will always encounter Bozo within your online communities. Fact.
So, what can be done to render the Bozo-effect? There are a few options…
1. Take them head-on, either in public or in private – appeal to their better nature
2. Ban them. Option 1 often leads to this. Remove their account.
Still, option 1 and 2, are temporary solutions. Often Bozo will find other ways to beat the system e.g. create another account under a false name, find other areas of your community to cause trouble etc. So, what else can be done… ?
3. Bozo-software – a feature that is built within online communities to label troublemakers as “Bozos”. In effect, what this does it renders “Bozos” invisible to everyone else in the community – something that Bozo is not aware of, therefore assuming that he/she is being ignored or their ploy has no effect within the community. This provides the community manager with a tool to diffuse the Bozo-effect in a non-confrontational manner. Other communities that make use of Bozo-software include Mzinga and Pluck.
Ok, so this all good and well, technology once again triumphs! But is this sustainable? Which leads as to our final option, Option 4…
4. YOU. The community manager. The custodian. The brand champion. Yes folks, you are the key. Using your savvy and experience to deal with troublemakers – whether through the use of conversation, technology or getting other loyal community members to join your cause in nullifying the Bozo-effect. You need to do a bit of scenario planning and put some contingency strategies together. It is a tedious process, but a much needed one!
Here at World Wide Creative, we strongly believe that a pro-active, innovative approach is always the most effective solution to any problem!