In the field of communication, a key to success is accepting controversy. I am a firm believer in the concept that managing controversy proves a communicator’s ability to do exactly that, communicate.
As co-founder of The Kitty Litter, http://klbox.wordpress.com/, I invited controversy into my life by providing an open forum for students at my university to voice their concerns. During the movement to stop SOPA and PIPA, a buzzword of the time was censorship, and this is what The Kitty Litter looked to get rid of. By remaining separate from the “official” university, the website was able to host conversations that were honest, and open, about concerns being voiced by students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
The reason that I have labeled The Kitty Litter controversial, however, is because hateful comments and general “trolling” took over the website in its first 36 hours. To quote a fan of the website, “a lot of trolls just means that you have a good website.” This idea held true in the fact that as trolls pushed to overwhelm the site, fans also spoke up, defending the integrity and the mission of the website.
With this understanding of The Kitty Litter, I have listed below the lessons that can be learned by anyone planning on starting a blog or website that is meant to generate conversation.
- Establish rules from the beginning
- If you do not want profane language on your site, block it
- Do your best to approve every comment, even if it does not agree with your stance
- Answer questions directed to you, the creator of the site
- Provide information to the community, not simply opinion
- Keep your online community involved
With these basic guidelines, an effective website can be run and maintained. Though it will be difficult at first, once readers understand your expectations for the site, they will respect them. As a final comment on the trolls, with the initial controversy of The Kitty Litter, the site’s busiest day generated 4,477 views. Considering that number, I would say that The Kitty Litter was not only controversial, but rather successful.