In March of 2018 I started a Discord history with newly returned member of the VC – not an uncommon thing considering my role in the community as a “Den Mother” and long time community facilitator. While I do not wish to make this blog post about this person, it is necessary for the purpose of this blog post to at least acknowledge this. This person identified themselves as being in trouble and needing support, and that is, after all, what I do in the community. I help people, whether that is by helping them out of a mobbing situation, or offering advice to Vampires on taking care of their needs or directing them to where they can get further help, or even just letting them talk. It’s what I do.
Initially this person, we’ll call her Jane – didn’t seem that unusual. Another lost member returning to the fold who got herself into a conversation over her head, wanting and needing support. Little did I know that my association with this person would spawn an never ending series of dramas that eventually took up an entire support community for almost an entire year.
All good things must come to an end and it’s the same for Jane’s story in my discord community and, eventually, every other platform that I had befriended her on. It’s never easy removing members who are firmly entrenched. Often such people have many friends and other ties that make removal very difficult, or in some cases, even dangerous. Its one of the very fine skills one has to sadly develop as any kind of community facilitator, removing troublesome members. It is likely one of the most complicated things we do and often one of the saddest.
At first I didn’t want to remove Jane. I had developed a friendship with this person. I had offered to mentor her in community leadership skills. She was friendly, and she was ambitious. She really WANTED to be a leader. Or so it seemed at the time, and it’s certainly what she told me. I search communities, groups and even Facebook for people who have the drive and the desire to learn these kinds of skills. I am thrilled when I meet and have the privilege of mentoring such people.
But alas… it was not to be.
Within months my communities were bogged down in constant drama with this person, her partners, her friends, her enemies. Before long it seemed that ALL my support community did was follow the ongoing saga of Jane, her relationships and her constant series of community faux pas. It became all we talked about, even when she was not online. Before long her poly partners were in my groups. The snowball grew and grew and then… It stopped.
Why did it stop? Because I made it stop.
It took months for me to see what the constant distractions were doing to my Discord server, but eventually I DID see it. I had started cutting Jane off, slowly. I removed administration privileges. I removed moderation privileges. I stopped trying to mentor her. I made a point of talking to her less and less. I started taking a stand against the drama that spawned more or less constantly in her wake. I removed her from my server entirely, and yet, somehow, the drama continued to take up our time. We banned her lover months before we banned Jane but removing them both was still not enough to take the topic or the stress off our server. Our members were harassed. Copies of conversations from our main chat continued to show up outside our server and were often used by Jane’s lover in an attempt to intimidate our members who spoke up against her. I had a final blow out with Janes poly lover / partner on a Facebook group owned by a friend, where she posted links to Dropbox where she had copies of conversations from my Discord and a friends discord… and THAT was the last straw.
So.. what do you do when one person and their partners take up more than their share of attention? How do you reasonably and maturely get rid of people who are determined to be entrenched in your life and your communities? How do you take control of a situation where someone is trying to hold your members hostage to threats and intimidation?
I gathered up all the screenshots I could find, all the letters, all the copies of files and threats and intimidation and I sent the whole works to my lawyer, who is a friend who has been on my staff since 2002 and has even written community articles for me, thus he is familiar with the community and everything that goes on here. I can’t recommend enough that everyone who facilitates GVC infrastructure should, if possible, have someone like this on your staff. I gathered it all up and sent the files to him and asked him to make recommendations on how to proceed.
The next thing I did was ban and block Jane, her spouses, her closest supporters and any friends who were trying to further Janes cause. It took a bit to identify who these people were, but identifying them in advance made getting rid of them all in one fell swoop, much easier then dealing with each of them piecemeal. If you’ve got to do it, doing it all at once is the easiest way I have ever done it – and I’ve been through this a few times in my GVC career. Never underestimate the benefit of doing some behind the scenes work before you start hitting the ban button. Having a list of potential troublemakers on hand, can save you time, energy and a lot of frustration. I banned on my server, and every other platform I knew these people. No fooling around. Done is done.
Last, but certainly not least, I engaged my staff and members on my server and we started making plans to fill the void created by ousting all the drama and the llamas from our space. We brainstormed some topics we wanted to do chats on. We talked about jump starting my old servers and the best set up for that (but thats another blog post!) We talked about projects on my newest website. We filled the void so there was simply no room for a return to the drama topics that has been paralyzing us for months, to the detriment of our members and staff.
It was very freeing. Was it easy? No. These people had been our friends and we will grieve them for a long time. But grieving someone is not a reason for failing to move on. We took our fate in our own hands and we returned control of the conversations on our server back to ourselves. It was a good choice. It is healthy. We all seem to be happier for it.
Do you have members who are an issue? Do you have people in your groups and communities who are tying up the conversation and making it all about themselves?
Taking control back can be a challenge but its completely worth it. If you do it, my advice is to be thorough. Don’t take half-assed measures when the health of your community is at stake. Removing people from the conversation can be difficult, but it is completely worth it to have your space back for the purpose it was originally designed for. Sometimes it is worth it to lose a handful of members for the health and peace of mind of the rest of the community. In our case it has been blissful
It IS worth it.
Shout-out to the best staff in the GVC, mine. Good staff makes everything easier and without the help and support of my staff this last year would have been impossible. I love you all!