Back in August of last year, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress wrote a post entitled 6 Steps to Kill Your Community, although it really should be called 6 Steps to Kill Your Community and Another 7 Step to Make Sure They Stay Dead.
I personally like:
Don’t Moderate. Allow anybody to post anything regardless of whether it contributes to the conversation or not. Stupidity, libel, hate, curse words are all okay because in the comments you have plausible deniability. Make sure people know that whatever they post will live forever, and anything goes. The few smart people you did have in your comments will enjoy responding to these folks. Advertisers love being next to a good fight, too.
Random Crap from Around the Web. Make sure any comments you have are buried by every random piece of “conversation” from around the web, especially retweets, Delicious links, Digg and Slashdot comments, pretty much anything will work here. Bonus points for unmoderated pingbacks, so every scraper spam blog copying the content of the post gets a free link in the comments.
As well as:
Make People Click Click Click. Ideally do 1-comment-per-page CNET-style and your pageviews will go through the roof, but if you can’t stomach that just make comments-per-page setting low or have some sort of complicated nesting scheme.
There’s also great comment from Ryan Hamilton, who hits the nail on the head when he says:
Until recently, I hadn’t realized that by being careless with moderation, readers may become careless as well when commenting. This leads to almost impossible to read comments and discussions that turns off the more intelligent / thoughtful readers from participating in discussion.
My addition to the discussion would be:
Scale your community as quickly as possible. Make sure that incoming newbies overwhelm your early adopters to such an extent that no one gets to know anyone and your earliest supporters feel immediately alienated. Remember, the more the merrier, and a rapidly growing community disintegrates into random crap/vitriol faster than you can fail to intervene in petty bickering.
What are your tips for destroying a community?