The Killing of a Community

Posted on 17 August 2011

I’ve been pretty inactive lately and wanted to explain why.

I’ve recently been laid off and it’s been a trying time for me getting all the loose ends tied up.  There is absolutely no ill-will harbored by this layoff and truth be told, it doesn’t disappoint me from an employment standpoint.  These things happen and I’m not taking it personally, but it doesn’t bode well for the communities I managed.

The most important of those communities to me is Tabblo.

It’s important to note that Tabblo hasn’t received one iota of company resources in 3+ years except for the electricity powering the small portion of the server Tabblo resides on.  I’ve been working on projects other than Tabblo for years, spending minutes a day making sure the site is free of junk and answering the occasional email.

Now that I’m gone the site is basically unmanned, which in my opinion is completely irresponsible.  It will more than likely be overrun with spammers, porn, and wholly inappropriate content which will infest the community resulting in a slow, lingering, spam and booby-ridden death.  There will be no support, no moderation, and there will be no responses for incoming email.  If that is going to happen then shouldn’t it be shut down in a gracious, responsible way?

Granted, Tabblo is a smaller, legacy community that was gutted, like a fish, of it’s ability to generate revenue. The reality was that Tabblo was purchased not for the .com value but for the value in the engineers that created it.  That is still no excuse to abandon the community, the members and their content.  These actions and this mentality are contrary to everything I stand for as a community manager, and it bothers me not only because I manage Tabblo, but because I’m also a member.

I’ve trying to reassure the community because they are aware of the situation.  However, being unable to truthfully answer questions like “What happens to Tabblo after you leave?” and “What will happen to all of the content we’ve created?” is sickening.

Member uploaded content is a big issue when considering closing a site like Tabblo.  Some members have uploaded thousands of photos to the site and currently photos can only be retrieved one photo at a time!  All community members should have the ability to batch download their images.  That functionality doesn’t currently exist on Tabblo which means to implement such functionality resources MUST be spent.

The onus is on the company to find those resources and create the ability to batch downloads, but I’ve been unsuccessful in convincing anyone of that.

If a potential closure is imminent, or even on the horizon, every single registered community member should be emailed, notifying them of this potential, and giving them easy access to their content…but again we run into issues with  a “lack of available resources” to get that done.

Not only does this lack of action send a clear message to the members of the Tabblo community, but also to the members of the Internet community at large.

I would not be surprised to find that one day very soon we’ll see a “Tabblo has closed” page in place the login page.  It defies common sense that the largest technology company the world has ever known can’t allocate enough resources to do the right thing by these loyal community members.

So please forgive my lack of social media zeal…I’ve been terribly preoccupied by this issue and my time to act on behalf of Tabblo is fading quickly!

How have you dealt with a lack of resources?

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

I’d dig some insight.

Cheers!

-Eric


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