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Community Management: Key Considerations

community management restrictionsAre you a member of a community with too many rules? Are you a community manager always setting up rules to prevent or stop things from happening on a repetitive basis? Are you constantly upgrading the penalties to those who break them? Should familiarity and predictability breed contempt over time as a community manager?

 

Communities evolve over time. As your community grows, you will need to add rules and guidelines to ensure a fair level of expectation for the members. I have often witnessed rules changing dangerously towards the site and away from the user to avoid moderation of the community. As your community grows, you need to find a way to prevent things from happening when you are unable to be seen or heard. Often times your volunteer advocates are forced to enforce and sometimes set “un-community-like” policies that got your communities off the ground in the first place.

 

New members who join your site may not read your lengthy rules and could be banned or suspended for a simple violation mistake. For example, let's say a new member joins your site and posts in a few forums. They could be potentially suspended for trolling when they are merely trying to join the discussion. These rules often evolve negatively towards the process of community participation and engagement.

 

Everyone's idea of trolling, spamming, and flooding is different from community to community. It does happen: sometimes it's on purpose but sometimes it's just ignorance. Is it worth it to just suspend/ban first, and then ask questions later? You could be potentially be losing a quality member.

 

A few things need to change to fix the mess you may have created in your deeply evolved community.

  1. Make contact and talk to the person. You may be surprised how nice people can be if you talk to them about a potential problem.

  2. Before taking any action, ask yourself: Does the infraction actually merit any action? Sometimes trivial aspects of community management evolve into deep punishments over time.

  3. Are you really enjoying your management duties too much and no longer enjoying the community-building part of the job?

  4. If you have volunteers, sometimes they are following the rules you set to the letter rather than using their own minds and making decisions based off the situation at hand.

 

Growth and success lead to more layers of rules and positions within a hierarchy. Communities grow over time but the level of patience and understanding needs to stay the same. I am not saying every rule you make is wrong, but some of the trivial rules and infractions in community management need to stop growing more restrictive. Take a step back and ask yourself, Why am I keeping this person from becoming an active participant in my amazing community? Are you stopping yourself and your community from growing?


How do you keep yourself from falling into this trap of being too restrictive to your members?


(image: community management / shutterstock)

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