We have 100s of employees with some level of activity on our forums. When they leave Autodesk, we typically freeze their account and give the role of "Alumni". They can no longer post with it or change their signature. If they want to remain active, they have to use with another account they already have or create a new one. The reputation / rank accumulated with authoring messages while an employee is not transferable, I think.
That represents possibly a business problem: by slamming the door that way, we discourage former employees to remain active and bring valuable contributions.
The reason for us to do this: lets say an employee regularly engages on the boards until Jan 31st, last day of employment. Until that time, he has an employee role that identifies him as an employee, uses his Autodesk email, his signature that clearly says "employee" and he posts on behalf of Autodesk.
On Feb 2nd, if we don't freeze the account, our now former colleague changes his email on the account and his signature. We will have removed the employee role. He can keep contributing, a desirable thing for us community managers. HOWEVER, on all his past posts, the signature& will change as well. The context in which he was speaking on behalf of Autodesk will disappear from the older posts. This may create confusion for other users.
I think there are 2 types of solutions here. One relates to the platform: something like "freezing" their employee signature between date x and y (during employment). Another would be about community policy and somehow a better gentler "off boarding" policy.
How do you all deal with this kind of issues, former Lithium employees included?
This is an excellent question. For the Lithium Community in particular, we follow these practices:
Upon request, we transfer all event-based/certification badges that were earned as an employee. So their metrics may need to be re-earned and are considered account based, their outside accomplishments are still recognized on the community.
The important thing, IMO, is to make things very clear in the ban message that the account ban is for organizational purposes and that the person is not banned from the community.
I recently had a chat with someone at Lithium. there seems to be 2 other practices from some of Lithium customers, aside from the ban. And the ban has still the merit of clarity and easy to enforce.
One is to still give a role that has a visual identifier, allow posting but block the ranking process for the account. this is a softer incentive to start over with a new regular account.
The other include a visual identifier, allow posting and ranking, but to disable the signature of the person so that the community managers control it and put something that clearly states the former employee status. We are currently exploring the feasibility of this option from a platform setting as well as from a community policy stand points.