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πŸ“ Rules? What Rules? | CCW #51

Community Club Weekly
Issue #51 | November 11, 2020

Community Club Weekly is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts and thoughts from various community managers.

πŸ•Ί 18 Days into the 24 Days of Community

Two weeks ago we launched a new forum dedicated to longer-form content from community builders, resources for people who are interested in or brand new to community, and much more. We've been hosting AMAs, fireside chats, and other events for the past two and a half weeks, and we have another six days of fun and events to go!

Missed some of the great content from the past few days? Don't worry, we've got you covered:

What would you say to yourself at your first community role?
AMA with Jake McKee
Sunday Musings about the Chief Community Officer job title
Fireside chat on moderation

πŸ“ What to think about when creating rules for your community

How many times have you found yourself in a position where a member of your community has done something you don't like, but you don't have specific rules to reference to curb that bad behavior? Or perhaps a group of users go wildly off the rails and you're without the proper code of conduct to ensure they don't do so again (not that I have any experience with that…)?

Having the right rules in place at the right time is critical for the health and safety of your community, and oftentimes it's a tricky thing to get right the first go-round.

Thinking about how to craft the best rules for a given community is now one of my favourite community-building activities because there's something satisfying in successfully anticipating things that could go wrong and preventing them from happening. It took a while to figure out the best approach; many years and mediocre attempts. The recommendations below stem from my personal process, but there are plenty of thoughts from other community builders on their approach to creating good, solid rules for their communities. Ultimately, this is more of an art than a science.

Figure out your goals

You'll see a common theme in many of my posts: to do these things well, you must understand your goals. All communities, whether they're built around a business or product or interest, should have goals. They can be simple or lofty, but if you don't understand WHY you're creating this community, you're probably going to have a bad time.

Determine your ideal member

Next, you'll need to figure out who your ideal community member is. Create your rules based on the behaviors you want to see from your best community members, not just the worst ones. There may certainly be overlap, but that's okay. For example, if you want your best community members to share their blog posts and content they're writing while also participating in conversation organically, you could create the rule "Light self-promotion is permitted." Short, sweet, to the point. This, however, leads me to my next point…

Be clear and understandable

Craft your rules to be understandable, direct, yet flexible. The more specific you get, the easier it is for people to skirt around the rules. So to maintain a clear basic rule you can get crafty and add examples to support the intent of these rules. With the rule "Light self-promotion is permitted," you may find certain KINDS of self-promotion to be acceptable, but most unacceptable. Define what is permissible and what is not with examples you can point to: e.g.
- Things you can do: post links to your own website once per week
- Things you can't do: only post self-promotional posts/comments; send unsolicited private messages to members about your self-promotional content; use redirects to obfuscate your self-promotional content; etc

Don't go overboard with a bunch of rules

Not only should your rules be clear, but you shouldn't overload your community members with dozens of 'em. I tend to have 10 or fewer core rules any time I draft rules, as I find more to be overwhelming and difficult to remember as a community member. If you have too many rules, people will eventually stop reading your documentation and any critical rules below that point will be lost to the ages.

Make rules easy to find and hard to ignore

It's important for you to get these rules in front of people's eyes as soon as you can once they've joined your community. If you can include them as part of their initial onboarding that's ideal, but make sure that whenever it happens it's before they have their first opportunity to engage with the other members of your community. A great way to drive these rules home is to lead by example. If you show people how they should be acting by doing it yourself, they'll internalize it faster and better than just relying on them reading a page on your site. You need to live by your rules, too--so if you have the rule "Light self-promotion is permitted" you need to stick to that (which can sometimes be difficult as a community manager, when you need to promote various initiatives that you and your company are leading).

The rules should apply to everyone

As much as it pains me to write this, you should also plan on not making exceptions for rule-breakers. Some day, one of your most beloved community members is going to slip up and break a rule. If you don't enforce the rule for their behavior, people will remember that until the day they die and use it as a way to get out of any rule-breaking behavior of their own. It will be painful, but you gotta do it (ask me about the time I banned /u/Unidan). Hopefully you'll be able to quickly resolve the issue and reconcile, and turn it into a positive experience for everyone!


There are plenty of additional pieces of advice I have for how you should think about creating rules for your community, but I didn't want to overwhelm you in this newsletter. For the full list of recommendations, check out my post on our new forum.

πŸ“† Upcoming Events

Upcoming events, from the club and its members.

24 Days of Community - IT'S HAPPENING!!

Workshop: Lean community launch framework - TODAY, November 11th @ 11AM ET

Fireside chat: transitioning to a paid community - November 16th @ 10AM ET

IS-CL Summit - November 17th - 19th

🐦 Community Tweets

What are YOUR favourite online communities?

A drive for employee experience will drive greater need for internal community

πŸ“š Community Reading List

Community blog posts and articles from the past week.

Mike Roberts, Sheep and Cheese

In this episode, Mike Roberts, co-founder of Symphonia, joins [no manifestos] to talk about Sheep and Cheese, a private mailing list he created for friends and colleagues in the software industry.
By no manifestos

The National Geographic of the digital age

A deep dive into the history of Atlas Obscura and the community fueling it.
By Bailey Richardson

Making Magic: Connection and Belonging at Online Events

Recommendations for doing events well to build stronger connections for your community.
By Danielle Maveal

πŸ™Œ Community Jobs

A handful of open roles from our community. Lots of great senior CM roles this week!

Community Support Manager @ InVision

Community Manager @ Everytable

Community Manager @ Notion

Developer Advocate @ OneSignal

Content and Community Lead @ Progression

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