We were privileged to redesign http://www.samharris.org in July of 2006. Along with the website of this influential thinker and writer, we inherited oversight of a thriving forum community. Filled with active members, the Sam Harris Forums explore issues of faith and society. However, an unfortunate side effect of the popularity of Sam’s new book “Letter to a Christian Nation” also attracted a thriving community of parasites.
Spammers posted dozens of unwanted, potentially offensive links, images, and ads in the forums. We were deleting ten or more member-reported ads every day, and still missing countless unreported spam posts in the depths of involved discussion threads. We couldn’t stem the tide of crud!
Finally, in a move that will hearten states rights enthusiasts, we deputized the locals. Especially active members were invited to step in and delete offensive posts themselves. The results were immediate and stunning — there is no longer spam on the site, new spam is deleted as soon as it goes up, and the forums are still vibrant!
We wish we could take credit for this, but time and again web communities demonstrate that sharing responsibility means a better experience for everyone. Unless you’re a spammer.