A matter of belonging

Fascinating example of community facilitation gone somewhat askew (some might say very!) over at the WordPress.com forums over the last few days.

To sum it up, drmike, a ridiculously active and giving moderator / helper both there and at the WPMU forums got his credentials revoked.

Now, obviously I don’t know *anything* about the stuff that led up to that, so I’m not going to even attempt to comment, but the principle of essentially firing an unpaid, stupendously involved and committed community member comes across as a bit odd to me… unless there are extreme circumstances.

You know, abuse / crime / vilification etc. I’m not sure if ‘certian stresses’ fall under that banner.

Oh, OK then, I am commenting a bit, drmike has impressed me greatly for sometime and he hardly seems to be likely to engage in any of the above!

But more to the point, can you really do that (ditch an unpaid & committed moderator in that way)? Is it OK? I know there are users on the Edublogs forums who know more than I do about using the software and probably contribute more time than me… would I de-list / de-mote them?

To be honest I don’t think I would, or even could, unless I was compelled to do so for legal reasons. Very few issues can’t just be talked out, or dealt with in a more humane way. Not doing so, and just flicking the switch, is a bit lazy / evil.

And besides, that’s part of being big… especially really big… you’re going to have dissenting employees (paid or unpaid!), issues and stresses, and a heap more ‘stuff you might not personally like’ – it comes with the territory huh.

Either way, I hope this works itself out, as drmike is a very valued community member, but at the same (and purely selfish) time this is worth following an excellent case study in how to (or how not to) manage community interaction in the open source meets commercial meets blogging world.

3 replies on “A matter of belonging”

  1. Dr. Mike has been essential to the success of the forum and central to building the community of WordPress.com. As another forum regular, I know that we cannot replace him, not even with four qualified techies. He brought an extraordinarily giving and patient sensibility to his work in the forum, which not infrequently stretched to a dozen consecutive unpaid hours, as well as technical skills that none of us can approach.

    This is a perfect example of what happens when someone acts in top-down fashion in a bottom-up context, ie Automattic arbitrarily demoting Dr Mike and the WordPress.com community being upset and, frankly, functionally handicapped by the decision.

  2. “when someone acts in top-down fashion in a bottom-up context” very nicely said.

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