Well, in addition to all the points covered in the Forum Management forum in the topic Do’s and Don’ts, I’m going to add another 5 points that you’ll need to keep in mind while in the process of building a website community.
- First, and this could very well stands as one of the most important things for any solid community, feedback. One of the topics that will pop around from time to time, possibly even frequently, is your site itself. People will mention things regarding the community, be it lack of features, discussing bugs, maybe even discussions regarding rules being broken around the site etc. Well, what better place for all this talk than a feedback section of the site, where the users get to discuss these issues in an organized manner, while also keeping the rest of the community complaint-free. Users want to be heard, and what better way to prove to them your willingness to listen and help and a feedback or support forum?
- It’s important that over time, you build a ‘loyal’ staff base, moderators, admins, support staff. You can’t run a forum of 30,000+ members single handily, that would be impossible. So either invite close friends to help you with moderation/administration. When you’re a dedicated consistent team, the overall work load becomes less to deal with and when a moderator goes offline for a long stretch, the site won’t suffer. Don’t worry, not all of us have friends willing to spend time on a community moderating, but that’s why you need to keep an eye out for regular members that seem like they could handle the position. Find someone unbiased, on good terms with most of the members and is constructive as well as valued in general on the forums.
- Trouble makers exist in the real world, everywhere, they also exist online, on communities. Here’s the thing though, one of the important things to keep in mind is ‘how to deal with trouble makers’ on forums. You have to confront these trouble makers as soon as you can, and you have to be careful when doing so. If you act with an iron fist swinging in the air, raging and being too harsh, you will probably turn that casual trouble maker into one of those driven-to-make-your-life-a-living-hell type of trouble maker. Who knows, they could be a hacker, and causing waves with one of those is never a good thing.Always start by emailing the person or PM’ing them, let them know they’re violating the rules even if it’s obvious, and let them know you don’t want to see them gone but that you would rather they go about things differently on your community. Don’t sound sarcastic, or threatening or angry in these PMs/emails, you should have a friend or fellow staffer review your email/pm, these trouble makers will usually stop when called on it in that manner.
If that doesn’t work then it’s penalty time, don’t ban them outright at this point, take away some of their rights, maybe rights to post. Then message them letting them know of what you did and why, and remember to let them know how they can get this partial ban lifted. I can tell you from past experience, after running some of the biggest black hat seo/hacking forums, that trouble makers, when converted, make the most loyal members. Why? Well, they go around causing trouble and admins/site owners, all react the same way, ban, ban, ban. These trouble makers are expecting those actions, but when an calm and collected admin simply stops them and say something to the effect of, “hey, what you’re doing is pretty immature, but I think you could really add value to this community, that’s why I want you to take a time out and come back, add value to this community and become a valued member, because I believe you can be.”
Banning, blocking their IP address or removing all their contributions from the forum is always going to spark more trouble than it will initially deflate. No one wins in the end, you lose a potential regular, make an enemy and they are annoyed when they’re banned. Just be nice with these trouble makers, try to convert them and do this as early on as you can.
- Try to highlight the best you community has to over, think of it this way, when someone makes cookies (bare with me here) and they burn them, but still need to serve them, regardless of what they taste like they’re going to serve them with the burnt side down, right? They’re not going to serve something that looks burnt…same thing with a community, put the best up top, in plain view, highlight and feature your most valued members. Wear them like medals, the more medals a forum owner has, the higher up on that rank chain they go. This will do several things; one main thing is it gives new members a sense of the forum standards, and something to aim for. You could even make this a community held event, have everyone pick the most valuable contributor, funniest member, friendliest, most helpful, most annoying 😉 just spice it up a bit. Build a sense of community to bring everyone closer together.
- Finally, I can never say this enough, a friendly inviting community that attracts quality users is not going to be easy to achieve. Building something from scratch into to a thriving, friendly, high quality community is immensely rewarding.
Above all, just have fun!