Your online community has launched and registrations are growing at a very satisfactory pace. It’s extremely active with several 100 posts a day and everything is peachy. Time to sit back and relax right? Heck no! One thing you should know, there’s no relaxing as a community manager. Don’t rest on your laurels and never let your guard down. There is a cost with being a large successful community. You become a target.
Spammers, hackers and solicitors alike are becoming savvier each and every day. You have to take pro-active/pre-cautionary measures to protect the integrity of your online community and its members. Read more
Short and simple
1. Drugs are bad
2. Don’t steal!
3. Don’t punch or kick people
4. No cheating
5. Don’t harass anyone
6. Don’t vandalize anything
7. Don’t mess with stuff that’s not yours
Have you seen such simple [and humorous] community guidelines before? How elaborate are yours?
This post was inspired by 02/02/2011 #cmgrchat on Health & Wellness
It’s kind of a joke title, more hypothetical than anything else. But I started to realize how much my gym, and gyms in general, are similar to online communities. My fellow gym members all have common goals. We’re passionate about being healthy or getting into shape. We use it as another networking opportunity or social outlet. We even look to it for support, either for spotters, positive coaching or tips. In fact, the dedication it takes to keep going back is reminiscent of online community power users.
You can easily match up the roles in this metaphor too.
Online Community Equivalent
|Front desk||Log-in credentials|
|Personal Trainers||Subject Matter Experts|
|Community Manager||Shift Supervisor|
Next time you’re at your gym, take a look around. You’ll see signs posted containing the club guidelines.
- Cell phone use in designated areas only
- Re-rack your weights
- Wipe down machine after each use
- No smoking, drugs or alcohol of any kind
- Keep voices and personal audio devices at reasonable levels
- Be courteous to and considerate of others
- Wear proper workout attire
These are pretty standard across all gyms. Being a community manager myself, I would love to have a crack at writing the community guidelines for this hypothetical online gym. Here’s my spin:
- All shirts must have sleeves
- Hair dryers are for the hair on your head, not on your body.
- No grunting or sexual sounding noises when lifting. If you do make said noises, you shouldn’t be lifting it.
- Even though you’ve reached an age where you don’t care what’s sagging on your body, guaranteed other members do care. Please wear a towel at all times when in the locker rooms.
- Girls are there to work out, not to be hit on. Don’t be that guy.
Would you attend my online gym? What other guidelines would you add? Are there other gym roles that have a online community equivalent?
Setting the tone and expectations of your members early will save you a lot of headache down the road when managing your online community. So take some time when crafting your community guidelines. They are pretty standard in today’s web 2.0 world, but are important because they:
1) Help members become valuable contributors to the community
2) Explains what kind of conduct to avoid and
3) Makes sure the community is enjoyable for – and respectful of – all your members.
These are all things that promote a healthy environment.
Here are six popular examples to include into your community guidelines.
- Submit only original content. This helps maintain your community’s reputation and observes the intellectual property rights of others. So don’t let your members plagiarize.
- Keep it professional. Every post should make a positive contribution to the community and should be suitable for all members.
- Be honest. Your community is intended to be used for the helpful exchange of information between members. Lies, obviously, are not helpful.
- Stay on topic. Good contributions help the entire community by providing relevant, insightful information. Members that derail conversations lead to unanswered questions and disengaged members.
- Remember the readers. Have your members follow standard email etiquette. Writing in ALL CAPS or using HTML tags can make contribution difficult to read. Excessive typographic symbols, special characters, and instant/text messaging slang can be equally hard to read and may also be confusing to users who are unfamiliar with their meanings.
- Watch over the community. The community is for the benefit and enjoyment of your members. If members notice content within the community that does not abide by the guidelines or User Agreement, they should be encouraged to flag it for the moderators
Now some may argue that community guidelines are a waste of time. And instead, should create a welcome guide displaying to members what they can do, rather than what they can’t. This approach puts a positive spin on what is acceptable behavior. Regardless of which approach you run with, you’ll most likely have to draft both documents (see Flickr). Why? Employees, moderators and members themselves will need direction on what are potential violations. These guidelines serve that purpose.
How do you make sure your members read your guidelines? During the registration process, make them part of your ToS agreement (Terms of Service, this is the legal mumbo jumbo.) If your platform spits out a welcome email to confirm account creation, include the guidelines there as well.
What guidelines are you considering? How often do you review your community guidelines and modify them as members grow more sophisticated and technology changes the playing field?