Conflict Resiliency & Community Moderation
Resolution Versus resiliency
In moderation of online communities, conflict resolution is about addressing and resolving conflict or disputes through boundary setting and values alignment. On the other hand, conflict resilience is about building the capacity to effectively manage and navigate conflicts. Like roots of a tree, it helps us deepen our skills necessary to handle conflict as it happens and not compulsively correct in an effort to “make things right” after the fact, which can sometimes create a culture of toxic positivity. Conflict resiliency is one way to reduce and transform #CommunityDebt and starts with reframing community moderation and why it can actually decrease conflict resiliency.
When you read or hear the word conflict, what comes to mind first? Many people feel aversion to this word and even identify as conflict avoidant. Often, if people are spinning conflict in a positive light, they add the word resolution. Similarly, the goal of moderation is to reduce conflict (or increase conformity), however, the gaming industry knows that some degree of conflict is healthy and can create opportunities to learn other perspectives. Disagreements can even lead to shared meaning-making and productive collaboration.
The consequences of shutting conflict down can be dire and actually collapse into a homogenized and toxic community. Consider that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is not just a term for HR and meeting company requirements, and that diverse voices in your community might be getting caught in the moderation net and leaving at a higher rate. Perhaps the first step is to rename and reframe the moderation group from community control to community cultivation. Our favorite alternatives for this team include Resiliency Crew and Community Keepers.
Peeling back the Layers
Here are four layers of competency for community resiliency:
- Level 1 – Moderation: Keep the peace. This is done mainly by getting people to conform to the rules. Our goal is to train moderators to not only capture “trouble” but to see inclusivity potential in the most challenging voices and expressions.
- Level 2 – Mediation. The goal here is conflict resolution. Neutralize conflict and create collaboration. In conflict, mediums of communication can make a huge difference. Do we trust the method of connection (Zoom, phone, in person, in VR, etc), and do we trust WHO is mediating the conflict? Ideally, the mediator is understood to be unbiased and can offer helpful suggestions to redirect the conflict into a joining experience for all.
- Level 3 -Coaching Is about enhancing and empowering individuality (which is the opposite for the moderator). Coaches guide potential by offering support and constructive feedback.
- Level 4 – Community Management – Skilled Community Managers (CMs) are facilitators of all three levels. They are coaching self-expression for individuals in the group and also keeping in mind the overall health of the group and when to initiate conformity through collaboration. In general, the more means of communication and regular practice of it, the more balanced the needs of the individuals and groups become.
Embracing the Challenger
When a “troll” (Villain, Trickster, Bully) initiates conflict in an online community, they are typically scolded, muted, or even banned. What if these same people could eventually become your company’s biggest advocates? Instead of labeling them as a troll, what if they were seen as a challenger? Challengers are signaling to the community that something’s wrong, and often don’t know the best way to convey their concerns and needs. What is being suggested is a very different perspective than the regular CM process at this time, and one that could make your community healthier and thriving, especially when practicing radical caring, where everyone belongs.
Fellow community pro, Lou Branscomb, commented under a previous VoretXR blog, “Put yourself in their [the community’s] shoes. In community we are often on the receiving end of negative emotions forcing a defensive mindset. However if we preemptively think about how our actions and decisions might be received by our community we place ourselves in a more advantageous position.” 👏🏿 (Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Lou!)
What’s the Solution?
What to do with challengers? Repeat offenders can be recruited into a private chat thread with specific members of the Community Resiliency team who are practicing skills like reflective listening and collaborative challenging. Challengers yearn to be heard and this channel allows them the eyes/ears they’ve been wanting. When a challenger is escalating too frequently or extremely, we suggest temporarily removing them from the platform while providing them with specific steps on how to repair for reentry. A good example of this is Lola Omolola’s group, Female In, on Facebook. Again, this partitioning can be a recruitment funnel for feedback and proposals of how to improve the community.
Next week, we’ll introduce a conflict resiliency model and how this might apply to your community leadership!
What are other strategies for building community resiliency? Continue the conversation about #CommunityDebt #CommunityResiliency on the official VorteXR Discord!
This is a blog series written by the VorteXR team. New VorteXR blog every week! Check out vortexr.org for previous blog posts.