Abandon your community at your own risk

I am a big fan of the Zune music subscription service that allows me to search, listen to, experience and enjoy music and media in some amazing ways. Much of the focus of the Zune experience is the social aspect of sharing your music experience with friends an like minded. The Zune software (both on the Zune player and online) has earned a devout following. One fun aspect is that the system scores your listening and gives you “badges” for artists, songs and and albums you listen to a lot. While the service and the music players have been around since 2006 the service is going through regular updates and enhancements. So far all is good.

However during these regular updates problems happen. About a week ago many of us lost all or a significant number of our badges. In my case I went from 30 to 6, while some went from 1000s to 10s. While the badges may only be a fun reward that doesn’t actually give you any privileges, the “badgees” are quite enamored with their badges (yes, me too). So, questions start appearing on the user forums at http://forums.zune.net. Now, since the Zune is so much about the social aspect of media, you would expect the Zune team to be alert and sensitive to bad sentiment on its forums. Unfortunately it seems the Zune team hasn’t devoted any resources to actually engage its community because after a week of questions the Zune team is still completely silent.

The result is a growing sense of frustration – why isn’t anyone from the Zune team chipping in and explaining what is going on?

I actually only discovered that I had lost my badges about an hour ago. That is, they weren’t more important to me than a whole week went by without me noticing it. But when I did notice it I went to the forum and took part of everyone’s frustration – and got frustrated myself.

My point – if you create a community you need to monitor it and maintain it, or it can become a liability quicker than you expect.