Issue 17
In this issue of conduit:
1) Featured Question and Answer: "Community Pitfalls?"
2) Your Community Answer: What concerns you most about managing or owning an online community?
3) Community Wire: "Help! I am only one person!!"
This issue's quote: "Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
Chinese Proverb

Featured Question and Answer
"Community Pitfalls?
This issue's question is:
"What are the most common pitfalls of running online communities?"
We invite you to read our response to "Community Pitfalls?".
~Are you looking for information on a particular community building issuePlease visit our searchable archive of past question and answers.

Your Community Answer
What concerns you most about managing or owning an online community?
Please share this concerns with us in our most recent poll .

Community Wire
"Help! I am only one person!"
OK, we admit this may not be the catchiest of titles for an article, but how many times have we all thought or heard, "Help! I am only one person!"? 
Picture this: you oversee a bustling community. Your responsibilities include managing a moderation staff, ensuring that all content associated with your community is cutting-edge and engaging, generating new and improved ideas for your community (or the site as a whole), hiring and training new moderators, scheduling chat shifts and responding to member feedback, to name but a few. On top of it all, each and every day you are greeted with massive amounts of e-mail...someone wants something, a moderator has a problem, a member does not like a post in a particular forum, or one member had a falling out with another. Issues, requests, problems; there just isn't enough of you to go around. Your head is buzzing, your "To Do"s are multiplying and you feel like you are juggling too many tasks. Plates to keep spinning. Fires to fight.
It makes you want to pull your hair out, doesn't it? And yet it is so easy to fall into the trap of "if it's in my inbox, I have to respond ASAP." The truth of the matter is you don't have to respond the minute that piece of e-mail hits. In fact, if you do then you may simply create more work for yourself.
We believe in being responsive, but the simple truth is, if you respond right away, people get into the habit of expecting you to always respond right away. The minute you falter, and respond in 20 minutes rather than 10 someone thinks something is wrong. Why add the extra stress to yourself?
A good rule of thumb is to try and respond within 24 hours from the time the e-mail was received. If it is an e-mail that is going to require research or a great deal of preparation, it is OK to send the person a quick response letting them know that you appreciate them sending an e-mail and will reply very soon. (IMPORTANT TIP: Never offer a timeline that is unrealistic and NEVER express to them that you are too busy to deal with their issues or the questions. Not only will this drive a wedge between yourself and the senderbut it will serve to potentially damage the community you have worked so hard to build.)
For example...
"Thank you so much for your e-mail. I really appreciate you sending it to me. I am currently researching your query and will be happy to provide you with a more detailed response shortly. In the meantime, should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to let me know."
In other instances you may already consider that the e-mail you have received does not allow you to fully provide an answer. You need more details or further information in order to be able to respond. Use this to buy yourself some time if needed:
"Thank you so much for contacting me. In order to fully understand and be able to respond as comprehensively as I would like, I would really appreciate it if you could provide some more information..."
In all cases, if you send a quick response to indicate that you have received the e-mail, do follow-up. If you do make assurances that you will do something, be sure to see that through. Above all, keep communicating, even if your communication is simply a "Just to let you know, I hadn't forgotten about.." style of e-mail.
As long as you keep people in the loop, letting them know that you have not disregarded their mail, they are perfectly fine waiting for a response. So...cut yourself some slack, and do not let that itchy e-mail finger get the best of you. If it's not going to kill someone, it can wait a few hours. Finally, prioritise and don't be afraid to take your time, within reason. Ultimately, it's in the best interests of everyone that you do.  <g>

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