What does a well-regulated community look like in practice? Last time, we discussed the 4 Pillars of a Successful Community, but we didn’t have enough time to explore effective community moderation techniques, so let’s take a look at that. Just like we had 4 pillars in the last round, let’s explore the 4 Keys to Effective Community Moderation.
It’s important to have a picture of what you want to accomplish when taking on any project. With that in mind, our first key is that you must Create a Community Moderation Philosophy. What the heck does that mean? It’s important to have an idea about how you want to approach your community members. The philosophy we use here at The Noname Nerd Communities (and highly recommend) is a customer-service style approach. We view our community as a product, and our members as our customers. The goal of our philosophy is to “keep the customers coming back” by being kind and courteous with our enforcement, and by creating and enforcing rules to keep our members comfortable. I could leave it there, but I thought it might be fun to share a passage from our own internal community philosophy documents, “The Nerd’s Guide to Community Management”:
When I was in my 20’s, I worked as a floor manager for an all-you-can-play retro arcade. I was not only responsible for dealing with any customer service and repair issues that popped up, but I also was responsible for being familiar with all the games. Why? Because we wanted to help make sure everyone was having a great experience, so that they would be more likely to come back!
When we set up any online community, our goal is to provide a space where people love to come and hang out. We want to do what we can to keep them coming back for more.
Successful communities tend to lead using a similar customer service tactic as I described from my arcade experience above.
Ok, so we know how we want to approach this, but what is the next step? In order to create an environment, you need to Set Community Guidelines, or boundaries, specifically, rules and punishments for breaking said rules. Exactly what your rules are will be specific to your community, and the vibe you want your community to have. We suggest starting with your host platform’s basic community standards, and customize from there. Additionally, it is important to not just create rules, but consequences for breaking them. This may include warnings, timeouts/suspensions, kicks, and bans. Again, how you handle consequences may vary based on your experiences, and can even vary from platform to platform, based on tendencies of those communities (ours do!). Below is an example from our Discord server. Please feel free to borrow heavily from these, but we do strongly encourage you to make your Community Guidelines reflect what you want your community to be.
- The Noname Nerd community's mission is to create a safe, positive, and welcoming environment for all types of Nerds. Any behaviors to the contrary will not be tolerated.
- Be friendly and always show respect to everyone, no matter their role.
- Do not spam or tag people repeatedly.
- Harassment, pornographic material, abusive actions, hate speech, excessive swearing, theft or any other illegal or discriminatory act will not be tolerated.
- Keep language approximately PG13 in content.
- No invisible names. No excessive use of voice changers or sound boards.
- No advertising or self promotion. This includes invites to other servers (such as Discord) and advertising other goods and services that you are affiliated with. This also includes contacting our members privately.
- Please avoid divisive topics such as politics or religion. This includes posting jersey designs featuring political or religious imagery. While the diverse beliefs that are part of our society are worth celebrating, this server is focused on things that we have in common in terms of nerd and gamer culture and we would ask that you keep discussions and postings that stray too far from these topics elsewhere.
- Keep all stream links and video clips in appropriate channels only. If you're not sure where your link should go, ask an @Admin.
- Do not recruit for any esports teams not officially sponsored by the Noname Nerd.
- We are a SFW server and NSFW content in any form will not be tolerated.
The views expressed in posts made by members of this server do not necessarily represent those of the Noname Nerd or any of its representatives and are the sole responsibility of those individuals.
Generally speaking, we'll follow this strike system. Server staff reserve the right to give more than one strike per action, depending on the severity of the infraction. Severe infractions may warrant an instant permaban.
-Free Warnings may be given for minor infractions.
-Strike 1: 24 hour timeout
-Strike 2: 1 week timeout
-Strike 3: permaban
Ok, so we’ve got rules on lock, but who is going to implement them? Naturally, as you are the one creating this community, a lot of the responsibility for implementation falls on you, but as your community grows, you’re going to need some help. You will need to Build Your Staff. Once your community has at least a dozen or so active members, you should probably have at least one additional staff member to help you keep an eye on things. As your group grows, we usually recommend at least one staff member per 100 users, at least through your first thousand or so users. If you manage to build a very large community, you can probably slow down on adding people after that first thousand.
That’s great and all, but who should you choose? Some groups, especially larger groups, will create open application processes, but we have had pretty good success with identifying people who would make great moderators, and then inviting them to take on the role. What do we look for? We tend to try to find people who are doing the right things already. Our ideal candidate is a very active user, who tends to spark conversation, while following the rules, and helps welcome and guide new users. If they are already doing these things, you won’t have much to teach them when they join your staff!
So we have our philosophy, our guidelines, and our staff. How will that staff make sure that the rules are followed, and the philosophy is upheld? You’ll need to Create a Workflow. Again, this may look different from group to group, and even from platform to platform. Basically, you’ll need some way to discuss and verify violations, implement discipline, and some way to track it. We have similar processes for our Facebook and Discord groups. Here’s the steps we follow:
- Screenshot the incident and share in the appropriate staff channel on our discord.
- If discussion is necessary, we will discuss the proper course of action here.
- Record the strike
- For Discord, we have a roles system set up that tracks the discipline for us.
- For Facebook, we have a Google Sheet that we keep track of strikes and bans on.
- Implement the discipline on the platform
- Contact the user, if necessary
- This may be necessary if the Facebook feedback tool doesn’t work correctly, if it’s more than a warning on Discord, or if it is a particularly serious violation.
About the only thing harder than building a quality community is regulating that community. With that said, if we follow the 4 Keys to Effective Community Moderation (create a community moderation philosophy, set community guidelines, build your staff, and create a workflow), the task becomes much more approachable. Want to see a great community in action? Check out our Discord and Facebook groups! Not already a member? Grab the links to our communities at NerdsBelongHere.com! And as always, stay tuned to this blog for more great tips and tricks!