Social Punishment: The “Bozo” Feature

We’re all social creatures, and we thrive on the interactions of others, in fact, these interactions are the primary drivers for troublemakers in communities.

I’ve read stories about how babies that are given all the proper medical attention, food, shelter to deem them ‘healthy’ whither away to near death if they don’t get human contact and love and care. The same applies to prison, perhaps one of the more dreaded punishments is sending inmates to the ‘hole’ for isolation from all social contact. POWs can muster the strength to survive knowing that a series of Morse code taps can signal to fellow inmates that they’re ok and cared about. How does this apply to online communities?

[The ‘Bozo’ Feature renders the troublemakers’ activities invisible to everyone else, naturally severing what they most crave from others –attention and reactions]

One of my primary coverage areas is on community platforms (also known as white label social networks) that are used by brands to deploy their own social features on their corporate domain. I’ve come across both Mzinga and Pluck that offer this feature, leave a comment below if you also have this feature.

Community managers have a few options when dealing with troublemakers, the first is to take them on head on, either in private or public, sometimes it leads them to banning them. Banning them (removing their account) often doesn’t solve many issues, instead they may choose to create new accounts, or figure out how to cause additional trouble in subvert ways.

Some community managers who can’t deal any further with these troublemakers are left to only one option, by rendering the troublemaker as a “Bozo” using the communtiy software. What’s the “Bozo” feature? It renders the troublemaker invisible to everyone else.

Troublemakers thrive on the attention they get from others and enjoy stirring up fights, but they won’t know that no one else can see them, and therefore assume everyone is ignoring them, or their ploys hold no weight. As a result, they’ll slowly move away, sometimes never realizing that they’ve been labeled a “Bozo”. This gives the community manager a way to defuse the situation, in a non-confrontational manner, allowing for the troublemaker to quietly move on their own.