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My community has just had a major fight, with prominent, long-term contributors weighing in on both sides with much heat. Several key people have left in anger, the issue they were fighting over still doesn't have a clear resolution, and I've got a diminished group of remaining users who want to move forward...somehow.

What should my next steps as a moderator be?

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The basic thing is to reach resolution. You can't please everyone, and there would always be those who wanted things to go this way and not that way.

The staff and moderation team should pick the debate from there, make a decision, announce it, and move on.

The quicker it is to be over, the quicker it is to become "the ugly part of the site's history".

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We all have different opinions, otherwise the world wouldn't move forward. I challenge anyone not big enough who leaves the table in anger just because they can't take an argument. That's something missing from their side, not yours.

I'm no 3 on UX.SE and have many times challenged the community over icon request and visual representation should be part of UX or not. I think it is, but the mods disagree. I outrank them all in rep but still value their opinion and don't leave in anger.

My advice is: Work with the community you have, not the ones that left. Bring up discussions on behavior and get a solid common ground to work from. You will grow stronger over time.

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Reconcile, consolidate, and resolve. You want to look at the reasons why your members should continue to be active in your community, and then gently suggest these ideas to each party. You must then think of a compromise that can satisfy both parties, and attempt to bring each party back to the table.

Naturally this may not always work out so in that case, work with the majority or whichever party you favour, if it really has to go that way. If the current situation is also indecisive, seize the initiative and take your community to the direction you feel best.

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