Over on the Stanford Medicine X blog, Julia James profiles Brian Loew, chief executive officer of patient-support network Inspire, about how to grow a useful, engaging social network. Loew says the company employs five simple rules, including:
Employ good moderators: It's easy to identify hate speech and commercial sales pitches - both forbidden on Inspire - but it's harder to tell where healthy argument crosses the line into insult. (No topic is off-limits.) "That," says Loew, "is where you need smart people with good judgment." If a discussion starts generating "more heat than light," a moderator steps in. Inspire's ban rate is only about one in every 5,000 members. But "this tiny fraction of people can be so destructive, they can destroy a community if not moderated."
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Make space for experts: Inspire has exclusive relationships with 78 patient advocacy groups. If a particular discussion veers into irrationality, these partners tend to jump in and provide comment. Epatients are by their nature information seekers, Loew says. "Good information pushes out the bad."
The full entry is worth reading.
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