I was curious to learn what annoyed community members the most about an online community. Was there a common frustration point that many of them had in their experience?
I didn’t want to write an article from what I assumed it might be. Instead, I wanted to hear directly from real-world members of communities on what annoyed (frustrated) them the most.
Below is the beginning of this quest to find out. I’ll keep updating this post as I get more community members chiming in.
Real-world community members speak on their biggest online community annoyance!
“Communities can sometimes become poisonous, such as we have seen at Wikipedia, where a small clique of people, ends up Shanghaing the entire website. My previous wife, who was an expert on the Oboe musical instrument, tried to edit the article about her instrument because it contained erroneous information about how low and high it could play. She had her edits deleted for some bureaucratic reasons, and the article stayed erroneously, giving out false information. There are other examples of ‘clique communities,’ too, where entering becomes increasingly difficult due to internal politics evolving over time. Cliques, not welcoming new people into their herd, is what annoys me the most.”
Thomas Hansen, Senior Software Developer
“Unstable, low-performance and unorganized community user experience/interface or impolite/hazard reply from a community member.
And my suggestions are:
Having dedicated managers to enhance and well maintain community user experience/interface or stop impolite/hazard reply from a community member.”
YK Chen, Director of New Business Development at Climax Technology Co., LTD.
“There are many possible annoyances with an online community, but IMHO the biggest is a poor search tool.
A vibrant online community has hundreds of posts with questions and answers, but how to find the answer if there is no search tool or if it performs poorly?
Solution for this is a curator, a real person who turns frequent questions and answers into a FAQ or a help website.
This is what I tried to do as a contributor for the 43oh forum with a FAQ header — see https://forum.43oh.com/forum/126-energia-msp/ and https://forum.43oh.com/forum/125-energia-tivaccc3xxx/
Ultimately, those questions and answers should be included in the official documentation and the products.”
Rei Vilo, Embedded Systems Developer
“The lack of comprehension between beginners and advanced members. Both should make efforts to understand each other.
First, beginners should try to figure out how things work. Secondly, advanced should help beginners to understand what they failed to understand in a peaceful way.
To sum up, beginners have to know that advanced are former beginners and advanced have to not forget that they were beginners.”
Fanon Jupkwo, Back End Java Developer at Advance IT Group
“One of the biggest annoyances is the requirement to create an account to participate. Often, people find community posts by Google, read them, have something to say but can’t without logging-in (happens to me a lot). Now, if you aren’t already a member, you won’t create an account to contribute something if it doesn’t give you any direct benefit (e.g., asking a question for further information or clarification).
Now changes (which I mostly appreciate) in the laws require identification of posters. Some communities address this to allow a guest login that requires a name and a mail address (which is then checked for plausibility). This will enable people to write a comment without creating a full-featured member account. However, since these guest logins are temporary, and for only this one post, this does not encourage people to come back. It would be better to have two levels of accounts, a guest account that can be created on-the-fly when posting, but with unique name and password, so it can be re-used, and a full-featured member account with verification process and additional rights (such as voting, sending and receiving private messages, maybe starting a completely new thread, etc.). The guest account should be upgradeable to a full account (by going through the verification process), keeping all already existing references to own posts, etc.”
Jens-Michael Gross, Engineer
- Unwelcoming and hostility — If new community members feel unwelcome early on, they might not come back. Additionally, if new community members get exposed to toxic community members acting with impunity, you will see new users abandon ship quickly. This also means that users new in their journey of a product or skill (area of expertise) want and need to feel welcome to, just as more seasoned experienced professionals should. Everyone, regardless of knowledge, wants to feel that sense of “welcome” early on in their community journey.
- Poor search — If they try to use the site search for your community, and it leads to a bad experience, it can frustrate your users.
- Poorly designed community experience — Obsess over the new community member journey from learning about your community (not yet signed up) and through every step and touchpoint in their initial journey. A jumbled or poorly designed community will lead to more new community members not returning.
- Make it easy for anyone to create a new account — If someone stumbles upon your community from Google and you make it seem to tough to create a new account they won’t sign up or be back.