I spotted a really great question on an online community. I had recently conducted some research and felt like I had a few helpful answers. So I spent 30 minutes writing a thoughtful reply, citing stats from the research. The next day I was more than horrified to see that one of the community’s members, a sort of self-appointed-policemen, used my reply to make the case that affiliate members should not be allowed in the community because all affiliate member content/copy/answers are actually a lure for selling.
While I honestly never thought my contribution would result in a sale, and I never violated one of the community’s policies, it didn’t matter because all I could do was observe while the argument raged on. After that experience, I was shy about contributing to that community.
I love watching communities that gel. Communities where the members explore together, have fun together, and maybe even make something bigger than themselves are truly amazing. What is the secret sauce?
One ingredient is psychological safety. When members are not in jeopardy of being attacked by any real or perceived threats, they can connect, collaborate, can co-create. In these communities, you see learning, growth, and authenticity.
As stewards of our community, we should try to find ways to reward the behaviors that ensure our member’s psychological safety and identify ways to prevent the behaviors that break the chain of psychological safety.