Hari's Articles

My general articles repository and workshop

How to leave an online community

Online Communities | Last modified on: 09 Jul 2015 @ 07:21:41 | printer friendly

I've seen a lot of tips from members on how to grow and manage a community. At the same time many of us are also members at other communities and aren't always in a position to control our posting habits. Sometimes we want to leave a forum and yet we find it so difficult to break away because there is something that keeps pulling us back there. Here are some of my tips on how to avoid getting trapped in a community you no longer enjoy or wish to participate in. I hope this helps all of you!

Tip 1: Break away in stages

A lot of the time, people expect to stop visiting a forum or a community almost immediately. Completely break away ties. This rarely works out. You will be driven back from time to time because you will experience withdrawal symptons particularly if you have been very active in that community. The best advice I can give you is to try and reduce your participation in stages. If you have been posting 40 messages a day, try and bring it down to 30, 20 and then one or two. You can almost never completely withdraw from a forum you've been very active on.

Tip 2: Don't leave farewell messages

Much as you might be tempted to leave a farewell message either out of anger or any other reason, this gives you another reason NOT to leave. Apart from other members who might want you to stay, you will also be taunted mercilessly by hostile members and forced to make a reply which will just make the situation worse. If you don't like how a community is run, try and leave as quietly as possible. Leaving farewell messages could be more harmful to your reputation and would make you look like a fool if you continue posting.

Tip 3: Try to leave during a quiet period

Most communities go through stages of quiet and intense activity. On larger forums this might not be too visible, but you yourself can see when a forum looks less active by experience. There might be a fall in new topics created and new members registered. There might be a reduction in controversial and flame war type posts. These are the best stages to cut down your activity.

Much as many of us are against controversy and flame wars, nobody can resist a troll. If you are trying to leave a community during an extreme phase of discussion or activity in which you have involved yourself, you will find it very difficult to leave. It will lead to frustration if you try to cut off at that point. Rather, wait for the storm to die down, start reducing your involvement in active topics and just withdraw. That will be much more effective.

Tip 4: Unsubscribe and remove your e-mail ID if necessary

If you are subscribed to forum topics, unsubscribe. Stop receiving notifications in your e-mail. Out of sight is out of mind. If the admin keeps sending out email newsletters to members, then log in to your account, change your email ID to an invalid ID or check whether there's an option not to receive any mails. Tip 5: Don't ask for account deletion/ban or behave badly just to get banned

As I said before, if you want to leave a community, be quiet about it. Asking for an account deletion or behaving in a manner that might get you banned are not ways to leave a community gracefully. Apart from that it completely spoils your chances of returning even if you wish to later on.

Always leave the doors open, even if you are sure you might never visit. Try and leave without anybody else noticing it and leave in as good grace as possible. If you are actively against the way the forum is run or the admin policies, don't open a debate on that. That kind of thing rarely works and might actually get you heated and more emotionally involved. The trick is to just be a silent protester. The best way to show your disapproval is to stop posting and stop visiting the forum - not by being a nuisance. Tip 6: Write down your resolve and give yourself a positive reason why you're not part of the community any longer

I cannot emphasize the importance of this. Writing down such things always clarifies your thoughts. Put it away in a private place and remind yourself why you're not part of the community. Let it be a positive reason - for example making time for other healthier activities in life. Don't remind yourself of the negative factors that led you to leave a community - like animosity or hostility. You will only be stressed out more. Final thoughts

Breaking away from a forum is never easy particularly when you have many friends there and you've been actively involved. Forums can be like a drug habit - easy to get into but hard to break out of.

Three golden rules:

  1. Online communities are like real life relationships. Don't pretend that you don't care because you do.
  2. Out of sight is out of mind. Stop going back there. Resist the temptation to be a "passive member" by going back there to read other stuff. That will surely draw you back into the fold.
  3. Try and find an alternative forum or even do something else in real life to take your mind off the community. Find positive reasons not to be involved rather than keeping the negativity alive.