Online engagement with customers or followers requires a safe and positive environment. Community guidelines are a must to make the most out of online engagement! The guidelines should complement the company’s existing policies towards customers.
Considering the volume of user-generated content nowadays, drafting and implementing online community guidelines remains challenging. Stakeholders are often confused about what to include or exclude. Even a tiny mistake here can significantly impact brand image!
Therefore, community guidelines should not be drafted, keeping only the company’s interest in mind. It should also include factors such as user satisfaction and neutral moderation; so that if you remove any user-submitted content from your website, you’ll be in a position to justify your action. To know more about creating community guidelines, visit this page.
Community Guidelines Template: Things To Include
Your community guidelines’ contents will solely rely on a company’s rules and guidelines. However, some of the major pointers to include in your community guidelines are:
Be specific and clear in outlining personal attacks toleration policy. For example, to make your online space safer for users, define what falls under the personal attacks category in your community. Also, stipulate the consequences of committing such attacks.
For instance, most communities tag racial, gender, religious, or ethnicity-based discrimination as zero-tolerance content. Filtering out such content shows your commitment to users’ safety and improves your brand image.
Doxing refers to publicly revealing personal information online. The recent trend in misuse of personal data by scammers is alarming. Therefore, to keep these activities at bay, encourage users not to post personal and sensitive information.
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To take advantage of an existing user database of your platform, spammers may bombard it with self-promoting content. However, self-promotion on your official platform looks irrelevant and puts a bad impression on community members. So, your community guidelines should address such issues.
You should avoid offering the wrong information and copyrighted materials at any cost. The guidelines must mention the consequences of spreading false information or violating copyright rules.
If you have a content moderation system in place, clearly state how the system works. Then, if any dispute arises, how do you contact the right person?
Similarly, selecting a moderator out of community members should be solely based on merit and past performance.
Pro Tip: The most active member with a good track record should prioritize.
How To Start Writing Community Guidelines
Starting from scratch might be a challenging task, but you have to start from somewhere. So it’s recommended you do the refining process on the go.
Also, modify the community guidelines as per your company policies or users’ behavior changes. Here are some important tips with examples to start writing community guidelines:
Describe Your Community Purpose
Perhaps the best place to start is by stating your community’s mission statement. Then, before jumping to the do’s and don’ts, outline your purpose in the most constructive way.
Start with your main mission, what you’re offering, and what you expect from your members. As this is your first impression, be polite and concise.
You can find an example of a beautifully drafted mission statement from Linkedin at the following link:
Take note of the specific choice of words used in this policy outline. It clearly conveys its main objectives and expectations without harshing the users.
Create The Rules
The second step includes setting rules for your members and users. Again, ensure that you clearly mention what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Categorize the do’s and don’ts very precisely. It stops users from posting harmful, derogatory content in the first place. List of possible harmful content includes:
- Derogatory statements
- Bullying and Harassment
- Personal attacks
- Self-harm or Suicide Content
- Online Abuse
- Violent Content
- Pornographic Content
Implementing these guidelines makes conveying your actions’ intent easier while establishing what will and won’t be allowed within your community space. In addition, a do and don’t list offers a simple, easy way to break up these two types of behavior into an easily viewed list.
Your community members will automatically be able to form an understanding of which type of behaviour you favour. They will avoid the negative, problematic types of discussion that you’ve made clear is not acceptable.
Make It More Accessible, In All Aspects
Don’t make your community guidelines seem like a contract with complex legal jargon. Instead, use plain ambiguous wordings, headings, sub-headings to increase the readability. It’s advisable to keep the average community member in mind while drafting community guidelines.
In addition to warnings, mention measures to handle defaulters. Depending upon the severity of the violation, it can range from deleting the content to permanent suspension of the user account.
Generally, content moderation filters out offensive content beforehand. But having a set of rules to enforce in case of failure is a must.
Red Flag Option
Giving users the option to report abuse is an excellent way of controlling harmful content. If your moderation process skips something, your users have the option to report it.
This is a time-tested, successful option to control offensive material on social media platforms. This type of moderation is termed reactive moderation.
In addition to the aspects mentioned above, keep in mind the following tips:
- Don’t use a harsh tone while writing a community guideline; use a welcoming tone instead to make it more user-friendly.
- Make sure that the community guidelines are easily available to visitors.
- Welcome any feedback and suggestions to improve user satisfaction.
A good community guideline not only encompasses the vision of your company but also provides a safe environment for the entire community. It gives a sense of freedom to users to share their thoughts and ideas. Furthermore, it also paves the way for new community members, building trust in the brand.
Therefore, be specific in your word choices, refer to company policies, and understand users’ behavior to write a strong community guideline. Last but not least, don’t keep your interests above the community users’ interests.