Fairness and Impartiality Are Critical in an Online Community Manager - dummies

Fairness and Impartiality Are Critical in an Online Community Manager

By Deborah Ng

It’s not always easy to remain a neutral party as an online community manager. There are going to be times when you agree with a certain side in a heated discussion or argument, and your personal beliefs may cloud your impartiality. You can’t let that happen. No matter how much you want to jump in and tell people they’re wrong, you have to control the urge.

In any conflict, you have to be the voice of reason. Your community is counting on you to keep the peace and prevent a tense situation from escalating out of control. If you agree with the person who’s stirring up all the controversy, your community can no longer trust you as the person who’s looking out for their best interests.

Sometimes, community members ask you for your personal views during a controversial exchange. Even though you were invited to give your opinion, you have to remain on the fence. You can tell your community you don’t feel it’s appropriate to add your response or give another polite, pleasant answer that doesn’t ignore the request but still shows them you’re a neutral party.

There’s no place for any kind of bias in online community management. As soon as you take sides against another person, you may as well kiss your credibility goodbye. Becoming part of a community clique or being an obvious best friend of a community member will cause other members to mistrust your judgment. If you can’t treat every member the same way, you’re in the wrong job.

You’re employed by your brand to manage the community; to keep positive, productive discussions running smoothly; and to retain the trust of the community. When your personal views and preferences come into play, your job goes out the window.

It’s important to practice what you preach. You can’t ask your community members to play nice if you’re not doing so yourself. The best way to have members follow comment policies and guidelines is to lead by example.

At times, adding your opinion is absolutely appropriate, such as in a technical discussion or a request for advice related to your community. The impartiality bit comes into play when a hot topic is taking place and arguments ensue. Don’t take part in the types of discussions always leading to arguments.