As social media has grown, so has the presence of online communities. These communities provide the advantages of social media without any unwanted content. This is all possible because of moderation and community guidelines.
But there are various aspects to consider when launching an online community – setting guidelines is the most important. In addition, it allows brands to create a compelling and safe space for advocates and members to engage and connect.
Establishing clear guidelines isn’t an easy task. You may visit Viafoura to learn about the best ways of building practical community guidelines.
This article will lay down tips to help you build a safe space for your team and customers through the optimal implementation of community guidelines.
List the rules to get a clear idea of do’s and don’ts to be covered in guidelines
Determine why your community exists before setting the rules for community members to interact with each other. Listing the rules will give you a better idea of what will work best for the users.
The idea is to give clarity of the do’s and don’ts to your online community and provide details on how to engage with community admin and other users effectively. Note that there is no specific set of rules. They may vary according to the unique requirements of the platforms. However, certain aspects should be covered by all brands, including:
- Sharing and privacy of user info
- Self-promotion or spam
- Illegal activities
- Hate speech, harassment, discrimination, bullying, or any attacks of similar nature
- Protection of intellectual property
- Terms and conditions of using the content
Include your organization’s values in the guidelines
Community guidelines are all about protecting the brand’s value and interest of the users. Highlight your organization’s values in the policies so that the community members can better understand your brand and community engagement. For example, specify whether the guidelines cover comments on forums, blogs, or social media platforms.
The best way to strengthen your online community is to set up a dedicated space where the users can collaborate and connect in ways that will help your organization grow and achieve its mission. Connect the community guidelines with your aim to reinforce your organization’s larger purpose and goals.
Emphasize using a kind and respectful tone towards other community members
Users consider guidelines as a guide to communicating effectively in the online community. Ensure there are enough instructions in the guidelines that help users understand what tonality is expected in their conversations.
Create a sense of belonging and inclusion in the community members. It is the best approach to ensure all the community members are respectful towards each other.
This encourages the community to value differences in opinions and builds transparency in communication. Moreover, it reminds members of the community’s purpose – to provide support, value, and enjoyment to everyone involved in the conversation.
Enable users to access the community guidelines easily.
Creating online community guidelines and laying out the consequences for violating rules isn’t sufficient. You need to make sure that the visitors and community members are well aware of the practices.
- Add links to the guidelines on every platform, including your blog, website, social media pages, and forum.
- Alternatively, you may add the guideline links in the welcome emails, sign-up page, or newsletter issues to the members. It’s one of the best ways to keep both new and existing members updated on the guidelines and changes made to it from time to time.
- Also, inform your users about timing and reasons for content moderation.
Allow users to Report Violations
The purpose of online community guidelines isn’t limited to protecting the organization, its market image, and values. It’s essential to build a haven for the users as well. Hence, it’s best to allow users to share their concerns and report violations.
- Specify how individuals can report guidelines violations by another user(s).
- For example, provide an email or link where community members can notify the moderator or admin about the issue or concern.
- Don’t forget to mention how much time it will take to get a response or action against the reported violation.
- If possible, mention the names of moderators, coordinators, or community managers on board.
It is one of the ideal ways to let people know that real people are moderating the content posted in the online community and managing the digital channels.
Summarize community guidelines in short sentences
A guideline summary of 250 words is enough to highlight the crucial points. You may provide a link to guideline details in summary itself so that interested people can access the details. Use bullet points and short sentences (less than ten words) for the outline and include them above the comments. Check the examples below for better understanding:
- Be tolerant and respectful towards the viewpoints and opinions of others.
- Respect personal info and privacy of other community members
- No vulgarism.
- Communicate with respect and courtesy.
You may also add answers to frequently asked questions in summary. General FAQs include:
- Why is my comment not approved?
- How to contact the site admin or moderator?
- Can I mention an XYZ topic?
Revisit your community guidelines from time to time. The rules should address new concerns and issues that arise as the community grows. Consider new perspectives of expanding your online community as it grows and evolves.
Changes in the guidelines are necessary as the members bring new ideas and thoughts on specific actions or topics. They should fit in the evolving needs of the community. Connect with the community experts to learn how to manage and run communities efficiently. You may get new ideas to strengthen your online community.