Tekka, Slums, and Rent
In the new Tekka -- out very soon -- I have a long review of books about community and the Web. It's called slums of cyberspace.
This weekend, I've been scratching my head about the problem posed by trolls and snerts in support forums. They're incredibly expensive, both in dollars and in morale. My best idea so far is to put a toll on the channel. If you want to come in, read, write, and have a direct channel to the designers, you pay an initiation fee. It's a private space. You're welcome to use the facilities. If someone bothers other members, they're politely shown to the street.
A nominal charge -- say $20 -- would keep casual tirekickers and cyber-graffiti poseurs away. Of course, shoppers won't be able to benefit from forum discussions any more, which is too bad; perhaps we'll assert rights to reprint edited forum material in the public area at our discretion.
Alternatively, we might try a bigger price -- $100 seems right -- and offer some premium service. iChat support, for example. Access to betas.