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Occasional Advisor
Occasional Advisor

How to handle off-topic

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Hi everybody, 

 

we have a slight problem with a few members of our community. Maybe it would be an exaggeration to call it problem. 

Well here is the point. 

 

Quite often some members used to sprinkle a discussion with some off-topic but shortly after they return to the proper topic. 

In a few cases we had cut off the off topic section have kept it running in our off-topic board and informed the users. 

But sometimes that's not possible because they return to the proper topic and a cutting off would 

 

So my question is how do you handle such behaviour? Do you ask them to keep to the point? 

 

Looking forward to your feedback

Christoph

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Khoros Guru
Khoros Guru

Re: How to handle off-topic

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Hallo Christoph,

 

I think it largely depends on the frequency, duration and nature of these digressions. Discussions triggering associations with the possibility to add a new angle to the topic are pretty normal. I would even go so far and say that it's a good sign of loyalty and that your members are feeling at home if they spend time discussing not directly related topics.

 

Some indicators of off-topic contributions having a negative impact could be:

  • No further replies are added after the off-topic contributions
  • Your moderation team receives complaints either via PM or the "Report inappropriate content" feature
  • The off-topic contributions are most often originating from the same member(s)

 

Before splitting off these replies to form a new topic on your off-topic board I would start reaching out to those members and try to explain the value of focused discussions to the whole community. Ideally your community guidelines encourage focused discussion and looking for the right place to contribute before posting.

 

And finally if you can identify a common theme between the off-topic discussion you can start to channel these discussions in a dedicated area. This could either be a floated topic on your off topic board or even a completely new board. 🤠


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Honored Contributor Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor

Re: How to handle off-topic

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Great advice from @ClaudiusH as always. 

 

I would just like to reiterate the point that this is usually very healthy behaviour in a community. A sign that people feel like they are comfortable, happy to share more about themselves, and want to know more about others. Communities that are transnational-only are typically dull and not somewhere where you want to hang out.

 

Well done @CKummer!

 

Jason 

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Honored Contributor Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor

Re: How to handle off-topic

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We just get our moderators to post a steering message like;

Great contributions so far, just a reminder that '@ users name' asked about 'this topic'.
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Occasional Advisor
Occasional Advisor

Re: How to handle off-topic

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Hi @ClaudiusH, @DanK, @JasonHill

 

thanks a lot for your feedback. It really set me thinking about it.

And it's true, if someone feels comfortable he rather would chat than if he felt uncomfortable. And so far we didn't receive any complains about off-topic content from other users. Therefore the situation seems still on an unproblematic level.

I think we have to keep analysing the situation a bit more before we will take action. But it's always better to be prepared. 🙂

 

Regards

Christoph

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Honored Contributor Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor

Re: How to handle off-topic

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It is true that comfortable users will get chatty, and if the thread allows this then thats fine, but too many 'in' jokes or comments and you may find this discourages new user participation.

We have off topic areas, blogs and groups where wide ranging conversation is encouraged. On the actual forum help boards it is discouraged using the technique mentioned above.

With all things though it depends on your specific community. Special interest communities thrive on chatty users but support forums typically don't (although it can add engagement if harnessed correctly).
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