I run a website for bikers in London called londonbikers.com – it’s a pretty cool site that has an amazing forum and collection of users losley defined by a standard internet forum.

It’s been pretty noisy lately, with the very vocal majority, pointing out what they see as problems in the way the site is run – mainly they feel that the site is over moderated. I’ve seen this many times before and Robin Hammon hits the nail on the head in his post here.

Robin points to resent research that suggests users much prefer a moderated forum to a non moderated forum – what he believes is happening is that the user preferes a hosted forum – and that a host and moderator have very different role within an online community.

So I’m going to try to move londonbikers.com down that road – we’ve already identified several members who would like to be hosts, and we’ve losley defined what they’ll do, we’ve also thinned out the moderator ranks, and hopfully this will lead to a much happier forum.

I’m leaving things quite lose at the moment because I think it’s going to take a month or so for both the mods and the hosts to explore what their role, in combination with the site owners, should be.

Then there’s always the commercial angle, and whilst we will never charge members for access to the site (why would we?) we do have to come up with a way to cover costs – we can’t keep writing blank cheques to run the site, and we need to make enough money to employ someone full time to really make the site fly.

We’re a very young company and we’re facing the problems many sites have faced in the past, so I’m trying to learn from other people mistakes and base our way forward on research and tested ideas rather than gut feeling… but why does it feel like I’m pushing a stone up hill.

How do you deal with members who, no matter how open you become, no matter how great the site is, will still only post negative comments and scare away those members who just want a cool club to be a member of – trolls if you like… answers on a post card please!