Most of us never even realize it, but Facebook allows us to moderate the comments that show up against our posts. In the base usage, it is very important as it allows you to remove the comments your college roommate posted containing links to the pics of you doing belly shots off an Asian hooker in Vegas last week when your boss thought you were home sick.
The problem is that it makes us all Online Community Moderators, and even worse, untrained, and potentially unprincipled Online Community Managers at that. Luckily, most of Facebook users appear to get it; they leave their comment stream alone, or only delete the occasional offending post “for cause.”
…when you attempt to control the discussion, it ceases to be a discussion, it becomes a lecture…
There are others, however, who treat their comment stream with a more Stalinist view. It’s “agree with me, or you won’t be seen with me” for them. You’ve probably run across them in the past, and not even noticed. Have you ever posted a comment, only to find hours later that it disappeared? Does it happen every once in a while, generally with the same Facebook “friend”?
You’ve run into “That Guy.” You too can be “That Guy” by following a few simple tips (in Madlib format, select the one that applies):
- Have an agenda. We all want to hear all about being (conservative/progressive/a grateful dead head/transgender) all the time.
- Flood our streams with your words of wisdom.
- Take us to task for not being as (conservative/progressive/grateful dead head/transgender) as you are.
- TYPE IN CAPS because we’re too stupid to read your missives in lower case.
- Accept no comments other than “Right on”, “You rule” or “I wish I was you.” Delete the rest.
- If you are unfortunately called out on something simple, like the fact that bipeds walk on two feet, not three, delete the post and all the comments, rather than fessing up.
- Routinely suggest that anyone that disagrees with you should be (flogged/shot/tarred and feathered) then blame everyone else for fostering a culture of violence.
- By all means, block anyone that appears to disagree with you.
Here is the sum of my 16 years in Online Community Management: when you attempt to control the discussion, it ceases to be a discussion, it becomes a lecture, and that pisses people off and makes you look like a fool.