Every community has its dirty back alleys, seedy joints, mean streets or, like Amsterdam, a Red Light District.

In the gotdotnet community, our seedy joint is the Off Topic Discussions message board. This un-moderated discussion has included a wide range of sometimes contentious but always interesting discussions and debates. For several years, the gotdotnet team has been content to let the discussion map its own course. We have not condoned abusive behavior but we have not aggressively cracked down on the trolls either. Additionally, we have neither the resources nor the inclination to provide active moderation. Thus to my question:

To bulldoze or not to bulldoze?

From a business perspective, the calculable ROI of this discussion board, if ever there was any, has disappeared. Frankly, it’s an administrative burden.

From a community perspective, this decision is anything but clear. If I order the demolition of Off Topic Discussions, what will the consequences be? Could the effect be to drive away positive contributors as well as the few bad actors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, by email, on the discussion board, or in the comments to this blog post, especially if you a current or future gotdotnet community member or if you have experience in such matters. If you are Rudolph Giuliani, I already know what you think.