One of the hardest aspects of community management is the negative energy that can be directed your way when a member is unhappy. It’s common to grow weary and frustrated with the unwelcome behavior of many users, and it can feel like there is nothing you can do about it.
Luckily, there are proven tools and approaches that allowed you to proactively create a constructive environment. Community posting guidelines help you proactively create a constructive environment.
Your first order of business is to write (or revise) your community posting guidelines. Guidelines are often viewed as a secondary task in a community, but research and practice show that well-formulated guidelines are the difference between mayhem and harmony.
Below is a list of four prompts for positive community participation, along with a list of behaviors that will not be tolerated. Use these are a starting place for drafting community posting guidelines that work for your specific use case.
Getting the most out of your community experience:
- Read and learn! More than anything, this community exists to be an interactive and ever-growing resource.
- Ask questions! It can be to satisfy your own needs for knowledge or to propel a conversation further.
- Answer questions! Think you know the answer to a peer’s question? Give it a shot and share your experience.
- Encourage others! Be free with ‘thank you’, ‘good job’, and kudos.
The following behaviors are not acceptable and may result in content removal or being banned from the community:
- Posting messages that are inflammatory, unconstructive or at odds with the aims of the community.
- Posting messages that contain offensive language or references or personal attacks against other forum participants, including staff and moderators.
- Posting messages that advocate illegal actions.
- Posting the same message in multiple threads or forums.
- Posting unconstructive messages about the company and/or other products and services.
- Promoting or soliciting for your own business
- Posting unsolicited messages (including “spam”).
- Posting irrelevant or off-topic subject matter.
- Posting to 3rd party websites outside of official sources.
Want even more advice for using policies and guidelines to build a thriving community? Check out this podcast featuring community expert Melissa Westervelt.