Community Bonsai (a Metaphor) – Part Three: Death

This is the last of a three-part series where we are using “A Beginner’s First Bonsai” by Brent Walston as a muse for how to think about managing an online community. See parts one and two.

“It may die anyway, so be prepared for that.”

Your community may die, fracture, or fail in some other way. As a professional, you may be called upon to close an active community for reasons outside your control.

Personally, I believe it’s better to acknowledge the passing and have closure, versus allowing a community to die slow death. Humans are wired for ceremony and having the change acknowledged in a meaningful way can be important, especially for those that have grown attached to the community. Community constancy Feverbee created a way to manage this process with their framework Mitosis. Even with this tool however, community managers must be proactive and “out in front” of the ending process to achieve the most satisfactory result.

It is important to acknowledge that closing a community can be heartbreaking for you as the community manager as well. You may be highly attached to the people within, so remember to address your own emotional needs as well those of the community members.

I wish you the best of luck in growing your communities. May they be as beautiful and rewarding as bonsai. Feel free to contact me at hello at for my expertise and encouragement along your community journey.