Managing Online Conflict

angryAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there was a bit of a blowup in one of the online communities to which I belong. The American Society of Association Executives has an active private online community, and the other day, one of the members posted a link to a story about “angry white men” in this country. It generated a LOT of response, including some who were quite upset about the link, questioning the appropriateness of the discussion in that forum.

My post yesterday was about the content of the discussion, but today I’m talking a little bit about the process side–that is, what do you do when people in your online community start getting upset like that? Online communities seem to be rapidly growing in popularity, and it’s no wonder. Just look at all the great information that can be shared, and relationships that can be formed across geographic boundaries. These communities offer great potential. But there are downsides as well, and conflicts like the one we saw last week are one of them. What do you do when the conversation becomes uncivil? What’s the value of open conflict within the community? How do you know when to intervene as the community manager?

I will address these questions and more in a quick webinar this Friday. My partner in crime will be Ben Martin, of Online Community Results, who is one of the most experienced experts in association online communities out there (he had a blog before any of us, I think). Sign up for the webinar over on his blog. The discussion will be this Friday, from noon to 12:30pm. We’ll have a straight-talk conversation about how to deal with conflicts like these online. “See” you then!