How to Reiterate Rules in Your Online Community Welcome Letter - dummies

How to Reiterate Rules in Your Online Community Welcome Letter

By Deborah Ng

Very few people will read your rules or guidelines for your online community word for word. In fact, those who do read them will scan in order to get the gist of what you’re saying.

The majority of members who make up your community couldn’t care less about comment policies and community guidelines which is why there are so many rule breakers. The truth is most click “I agree” without even know what it is they agree to.

It never hurts to remind anyone of the rules. Pointing them to your comment policies, FAQs, and guidelines doesn’t hurt. Like the regulations posted in your forum, not everyone is going to stop by and read them but pointing them out will encourage some of your newbies to take a first or second list.

Moreover, it holds you free from liability if you have to reprimand or ban a member who isn’t playing by the rules. If anyone tells you he didn’t know he couldn’t say a certain thing or behave in a certain manner, you can point out that you sent him the guidelines in the welcome e-mail as well as posting them in the forum for all to see.

While it’s up to you to set rules and guidelines and past them in a prominent area, the onus of reading and behaving according to the rule falls on the member.

You don’t have to point out the rules by lecturing. Simply have a paragraph on the welcome letter linking to the appropriate content. Lead up to it by saying, “Before you begin participating in community discussions, please read our comment policy” or “Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page before writing to ask questions to be sure we haven’t already answered them.”