Rules for effectively moderating your community

Community moderation is the process of monitoring your community memberS and making sure no one is breaking the rules or trolling the community. 
February 6, 2023

Rules for effectively moderating your community

Community moderation is the process of monitoring your community memberS and making sure no one is breaking the rules or trolling the community. 
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February 6, 2023

Ten years ago, if someone would have said the word ‘troll’, you would imagine a gigantic, smelly, slow, creature whose only goal in life is destruction. 

Now, if you say ‘troll’ everyone jumps to an internet troll. To be fair, mythical trolls and internet trolls do share the common life goal of destruction. To understand more clearly about internet trolls, let’s look at the Wikipedia definition of trolling :

Unfortunately, trolls have become common place in this growing tech world and in communities too. They pose a serious threat to well established communities and could potentially ruin you by swinging their metaphorical club around and you need to be equipped to protect your community from trolls. 

Well, that’s a sentence that no one from a decade ago would take seriously, and that too in such a dramatically different setting.

The oxford dictionary describes moderation as "the quality of being reasonable and not being extreme".

Community moderation is the process of monitoring your community members, community communications and making sure no one is breaking the rules or trolling the community. 

Community moderation comes into play here, it essentially means to monitor your members, their conversations, their posts, etc, but, you also want to do this in a way to not hinder community building. Your community moderation should not feel like a dictatorship, but more like a guiding hand pointing your community-building techniques in the right direction. 

The three elements of community moderation :

  • The content posted by, and talked about by your community members should be of a good quality and should align with what the communities principles and values. 
  • The conversations between your community members should be open, honest and kind. There shouldn’t be any bullying of any kind, or trolling.
  • Community members should be aware of the rules they need to follow and practice to be a part of your community.

The Community Moderation Rule Book :

Rule 1 : Code of Conduct and Community Moderation Team

Create a clear rule book of do’s, do not’s, acceptable behaviour, unacceptable behaviour etc so that your members know they are safe and protected in your community. Community moderation should enable your community to be a safe space where your members can get together for a knowledgeable discussion without fear of being ridiculed or harassed. 

Assemble a team specifically for the purpose of community moderation. Your community moderation team should consist of people whom you trust, who are enthusiastic about your community, and who respect and understand why the rules are required. 

Once you have a team and a set of rules, you need to have these in a place where it is easily assessable to everyone. We recommend having a channel just for guidelines and encouraging your members to read them and keep them in mind at all times.

Rule 2 : Contingency, Contingency, Contingency! 

‘If something is supposed to go wrong, it will go wrong.’ Murphy’s law is applicable everywhere in the universe. Everything will never go perfectly according to your plans. There will be some or the other mistake and you need to be prepared for them. 

You need to be prepared to deal with every situation.

  1. Identify all that can possibly go wrong.
  2. Identify what you will need to manage these risks.
  3. Create a plan of action.
  4. Communicate this plan of action to your community moderation enablers. 

Rule 3 : Enforcing Consequences

Communicate the consequences of breaking your rules and values from the start and enforce them strictly. Do not have the mentality of second chances as if that happens your troublesome members believe they can advantage of you. 

At the same time, make sure your consequences are appropriate to the infraction committed, you don’t want your members to think that you are a dictator and will throw them out of the community for a very small infraction of genuine mistake. 

Rule 4 : Be quick with your community moderation

You need to make sure that you have at least one community moderator on at all times. It will do you no good if you remove a post that doesn’t conform to your values hours after your members have seen it. 

Having someone on standby who has the authority to remove and moderate content is a great community-building practice. 

You need to start this practice early in the community-building lifecycle, you might think that you could wait until your community grows to a respectable to start moderating but that will just get your problematic members used to lax rules and new members may be hesitant to join your community or may leave early.

Even before you allow any new members into your community, you need o vet them to make sure they fit into your community and understand and will adhere to your rules and values.

Rule 5 : Listen to your community

You need to listen to your community and see if your rules are working for them. That doesn’t mean you change your rules on a whim or at one person’s demand. Listen to your community and if there is a similar problem persistently then you need to re-evaluate your rules and see what is wrong with them and then change them to still fit your guidelines and values. 

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