Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Monday, August 19, 2013

I’ve received some good feedback on my last blog post about the ‘broken windows theory’. Some of them were discussing the applicability of this theory in certain other areas such as politics; particularly about what’s happening with some political parties in Sri Lanka :-)

Politics being one of the topics I have put a strict ‘self-regulation’ as a topic not to be discussed in this blog, I would rather leave it at that point and quickly jump into the topic which I’m about to write on my blog this evening.

The broken windows theory can be a good example why some Facebook pages (Youtube channels, blogs even) becomes favorite hunting grounds for trolls. A Facebook page which isn’t attended by its admins well enough can easily be a target of a competitor’s troll.


To explain this let me go back to the example of newly refurbished streets and sidewalks of Colombo city. Imagine if the authorities suddenly stop paying attention to the maintenance of the newly refurbished Colombo streets and sidewalks. They’ve invested millions, and imagine they forget about it the next day. One odd person might spit a bit of beetle chew on the sidewalk, and one more odd character might try to remove a brick off the sidewalk. Let’s not forget an incident of someone urinating on the sidewalk in a very extremely urgent situation where he couldn’t find a public toilet. Once these types of things occur for few times, gradually it will become a norm. Then more and more people will start following that norm, making the streets around Colombo looking ugly and filthy again.

This is exactly the same thing what happens on your Facebook walls. When you leave it unattended, one or two trolls may decide to leave few irrelevant comments on your postings. Let me be a bit specific here; ‘irrelevant comments’ and ‘negative comments’ are two different things all together. While negative comments are left by your customers, irrelevant comments are mostly left by trolls and ‘freebies hunters’ (organized people whose ultimate goal is to get some freebies out of Facebook pages run by brands). Negative comments are serious problems raised by your customers, which need your attention and immediate solutions. Irrelevant comments are like a cancer to your Facebook page or blog. Most of the time, the irrelevant commenters draw attention away from the core message you wanted to communicate in your posting and start a side conversation about something totally irrelevant to the main content of your post. Maybe like the quality of the picture you used in your posting or a small technical drawback in your YouTube video (or a grammar error, a typo or anything which doesn’t necessarily add to the conversation) . Irrelevant commenters can become a real nuisance when they trigger other similar personalities to endorse them with more irrelevant comments.
This is why you have to take harsh measures in cleaning up irrelevant commenters from your Facebook page or YouTube channel. You can publish a set of “house rules” for your Facebook page, and delete any comment which violate the house rules (but don’t make the house rules as an opportunity to delete the comments of dissatisfied customers who complaint about your products). You can add certain common words used by these people in your content filters for the Facebook page (comments containing those words will be automatically marked as spam). Review your comment threads time to time, and take some harsh measures of cleaning up such nuisance comments.
Now you might be asking me “are you advocating comment deletion?”. Yes, I always advocate keeping it clean from irrelevant comments, spam comments, and inflammatory comments attacking other fans. In one sentence ‘do not feed the trolls’. This does not mean by anyway that I advocate deletion of comments complaining about a bad customer experience with your product, or a comment which criticize a certain misinformation you communicated to customers in your TV ads.


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