In the two-way street that is journalism today, most editors are used to readers taking occasional shots at their work (or the editor themselves), often with a fury that makes them wonder if it’s the article the poster is really mad at.
However, not many editors (at least in the U.S.) have had a bullet with their initials scratched into it mailed to them because of their work.
That actually happened to Sean Adams, vice president of online communities at Moose River Media, a b-to-b publisher that serves the grounds keeping and agriculture markets with forums such as LawnSite.com and PlowSite.com. Those may not sound as catchy as the Men! Men! Men! message board on Cosmopolitan.com, but Moose River is one of the few publishers–b-to-b or consumer–to turn social media into a real business, with 20 percent of Moose River revenue coming from online (primarily the communities) and advertisers paying well over six figures for select banner placement within those communities. Last night, LawnSite.com (which boasts more than 113,000 members) had 6,000 members participating at one time, according to Adams, who was the keynote speaker during an internal Access Intelligence event on content and community today.
Now, most of us out here in the ‘burbs have probably considered pumping a round through a faulty mower before, but I never would have dreamed it’s a topic that could lead to threats against people. But that’s exactly what Adams says his moderator duties (normal moderating duties, not antagonizing anyone) occasionally spawn. "I’ve had 90 pound women tell me they were going to claw my eyes out," he says. "We’ve been called ‘Forum Nazis.’ One group at a trade show somehow found out my address, took a picture of themselves raising a certain finger, then Photoshopped themselves into an image of my front lawn."
Adams says he doesn’t share those stories to suggest that people are necessarily wackos in social media land, but that publishers who want to make a real go of social media need dedicated community managers, and those managers need to be prepared for unreasonable behavior. "If you’ve warned people, you don’t need to engage further," he says. "Eventually they just go away. Drama is good for a community, disagreements are good. But someone has to keep it from going too far."
What’s the most unreasonable behavior you’ve seen on one of your sites?