Pitchforks, Lanterns and an Angry Mob

If you let problems continue to grow a few disgruntled members will become an growing mob. If you don’t respond to this mob and address their issues personally you risk the mob becoming the masses… and if the masses revolt, you’ll end up with your head on a stick in the front lawn and a burning village.

If you’ve seen the animated film A Bug’s Life, you’ll have watched this lesson unfold in the form of grasshoppers and ants. The ants spend all year doing the work for the grasshoppers to gather a feast of food.

[Spoiler Alert] What the ants learn in the end is that they outnumber the grasshoppers 50 to 1 and if they unite they can run the grasshoppers out of town and no longer need to gather food for them.

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A web world example of this was when HD-DVD stories started getting removed from the social media site Digg.com. Members felt their words were being moderated by Kevin Rose and the Digg staff and they didn’t take to kindly to the moderation. What erupted were hundreds if not thousands of new submissions, comments and digs for the DVD key posts.

Having been through some similar experiences as a community director I felt simultaneously sorry for Kevin and highly amused watching the shenanigans unfold. I imagined how chaotic things must have been at Digg… The image that comes to mind is the scene at the end of The Matrix series where the millions of sentinels come flowing into the bay where the humans can’t shoot them down fast enough…

Kevin eventually bowed to his community and submitted a blog post on the Digg blog with the title being the hacked key string.

Lesson: Stay in tune with your community and be transparent with them. If Kevin would have personally responded to why they were removing the HD-DVD keys posts sooner, he might have avoided the giant headache that was a major member revolt.

But for all of the consensus-building and listening to user input, it is important to remember that there must be balance. For, despite our best efforts…

More Daily Lessons on how to Build Quality, Thriving Communities.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.alohastartups.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Darius_profile.png[/author_image] [author_info]FBI, founder of the design community COLOURlovers and co-founder and board member of the All Hands Volunteers international charitable organization. Alumni of Y Combinator and mentor with 500 Startups. @bubs[/author_info] [/author]