We are trying to use a community driven discussion group package to run a heavily moderated comments section of a blog/news site. The mistake starts right there. Those things are not very compatible.
We did not ever feel any of the tiering or community moderation features were a good idea. We wanted zero of them before the system even went live. We were told we had to use the software in certain ways. We were after all “Beta Test customers” of this community moderated forum package. I think that by the time we figured out, internal to Boing Boing, how far away from what we thought we were getting we were – it was a few days before launch.
Boing Boing messed up and should have understood that to properly use Discourse we needed to engage the community moderation stuff. We never wanted those features and should not have thought of Discourse as a Disqus replacement. Our very big fail.
At times, when we wanted to make changes, changes the community was pushing for at that, we were told not to make them – because they ran counter to the intent of the software.
Unsolicited expertise was somewhat forced upon us about how to manage “a community” and “our community” that was clearly not helpful and showed a lack of understanding and perhaps a lack of willingness to understand this wasn’t a community managed forum and was never going to be one.
Thank the FSM we never opened the Pandora’s box of community moderation.
We did, however, end-up with a community of around 120 users demanding around 400% of the time and effort currently invested in managing the BBS. We could not afford it.
User-to-User antagonism also has nothing to do with comments on our blog posts. Moderating arguments between commenters about non-comment related things is a bad use of time. Fewer wonderful things are shared when we are doing that.
After several increasing years of struggle with a situation we did not want or enjoy, we are happier for having made changes that give us a BBS we like.
Activity here did not fail. Apparently the active users did not notice that activity-tier disappearing, and its lack didn’t slow down discussion of blog posts on Boing Boing.
Unsurprisingly, we were told those changes would never work and everything would be destroyed.
Here we are celebrating another year of a successful BBS! Things are working really well.