I accidentally identified a hugely toxic behavior in my community about a week ago. It's not surprising that it took me so long (a couple of years, apparently) to notice it. My job right now is mostly behind the scenes, I sort of serve as a community manager for the volunteer moderators and that's generally the group I have the most contact with. I'm going to go ahead and be specific here, since this is unfolding in public view over there too. We've got a whole bunch of different kinds of communities under one umbrella, and one of them includes a paywalled support community. And it's paywalled in such a way that the average user can't purchase access, it's B2B, so their employers have to, and I believe they do at the time they purchase the product.
I discovered that members of this paywalled space are publishing links to documents behind the paywall as answers to questions posted in the public space, in response to people who can never see what's behind the paywall. I discovered it because three of those posts came through moderation and I rejected them with a polite note. The guy who wrote those posts asked about it in a feedback area, and we were off and running.
What is unfolding now is such a beautiful example of the definition of privilege. There's a four page (so far) thread of me saying that's a terrible experience for the public users because it doesn't answer their questions, and all of the people who already have access to the private space anyway defending the practice, because it's hugely convenient for them, even though it is damaging to the community at large. It's basically a lazy workaround for people whose companies didn't buy enough support licenses.
What happens next? I'm not sure. This is something truly new to me as a community manager. What do you do when the elites of your community are fostering a toxic culture that works for them, but nobody else? (Hey, that sounds like some other, large scale problems in cultures around the world.) We've got some ideas. I'm not sure how it's going to work yet, but it has to change. It's been over a week now and I"m still gobsmacked at the response I've seen.