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Use Policy and Guidelines Pages on Your Online Community

Online communities are only as good as their rules. Seriously. If community managers don’t put a comment policy and community guidelines into place, everyone will run amok. Some members like to see how much they get away with, and many of them behave quite differently under the cloak of computer anonymity. With policies in place, your rules regarding comments and expected community behavior aren’t a surprise.

Every active community needs a comment policy, a list of guidelines specifically for comments and discussion topics. The best comment policies list the type of behavior you’re not willing to tolerate and what happens if you don’t abide by the guidelines.

It’s extremely important to set the standard from the very beginning. It’s much easier to have fair rules in place from the get-go, than to go around and change how things are done after things are out of control.

Posting a comment policy everyone can see shows them yours is a community respectful of its members and a place where they can interact without fear of being trolled, spammed, and attacked.

You’ll find most members don’t have any problems using comment policy or terms of service pages. Most approve because it means they can interact with others and not have to worry about trolls or abuse.

Most online communities should have established guidelines in place before opening for business. Prominently displaying them in a Welcome folder, About page, blog sidebar, or any other area immediately visible to the eye to ensure that they’re the first stop for new members.

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