Should you allow your competitors on your online community?

Do you really know who’s on your community?

I think most people expect that if a community is “private” or “invitation-only” then they would end up knowing each other. But if you are running a public community like Digg and expect users to self police, then that creates another mess. Business Week reports on Cleaning Messy Boards, where companies are turning to new tools to prevent “hate-filled arguments or meaningless drivel”.

Every one of our communities does NOT allow anonymous comments, message posts and unidentified participants. That’s the advantage of a Business to Business community versus a Consumer community. We know the users well, their background, most cases have had offline interactions with them at events, etc. so it becomes easier to participate and eases the discussion online.

So then if you do know everyone in your community will you prevent a competitor from joining ?