Two interesting examples of businesses fighting their communities came up this morning in my reading.
Example 1. Amazon is selling Bill Clinton’s new book, Giving. They also deleted about 20 reviews from the product page. Presumably, these reviews were mostly low, mostly given by folks who don’t agree with Bill’s politics. Amazon, however, is in the business of selling books, and low reviews posted by people who are clearly not the target demographic do not help them make money. Thus, the reviews go away, and people get angry. Would better moderation interfaces, or different moderation policies affect the need for this type of "censorship"?
Example 2. Yahoo! Answers developers post a blog entry that basically says: stop using Yahoo Answers as a social space, and start asking intelligent questions. There are two prominent sub-communities of YA that are clearly not about Q&A discourse. There is the polls community, where people ask questions like "which pair of jeans should I wear tonight", and the politics community that focuses on flame wars. Why doesn’t Yahoo! seem to care about these thriving sub-communities? Well, perhaps they don’t promote Yahoo’s vision of social search, where a huge Q&A database helps Yahoo reclaim the #1 search engine slot.
These examples illustrate to me the challenges that businesses face in leveraging users’ work as part of their core business.