The Community Club


Discussion on: AMA with Cindy Au

shinyee_au profile image
Cindy Au Ask Me Anything

Crafting guidelines/rules is so core to our work - I feel like after you've gone through guidelines revisions cycles enough times, you feel equipped to rewrite the constitution 😂

Guidelines are so tricky because they tend to be the things that seem so clear when you read them, but then you roll them out and people find exactly all the ways in which they're fuzzy. And that's kind of the deal. If it wasn't fuzzy, it would be in your TOS. Sometimes they're in both, and it's still not enough!

Guidelines writing requires you to transform a set of ideas or concepts that are inherently important for defining your community and culture into words that can be understood by anyone, with any intention, from anywhere. It's hard to do well for all these reasons.

Some important principles when getting into the process are:

  1. Start with clear goals/purpose - guidelines/rules are just as important as things like your company mission/vision. They tell the story of who your community is and how to be part of it.
  2. Write guidelines with your best users in mind, not your worst. Don't let exceptions be the rule.
  3. Guidelines/rules only hold water if they're enforceable. If you're not sure you'll be able to enforce it, it can't be a rule.
  4. Get feedback on your guidelines/rules from (trusted) community members.
  5. Get feedback on your guidelines/rules from other teams. Have them role play different scenarios with you and see where things actually will land if this set of rules were live.
  6. Build into your guidelines the understanding that they will change. Culture shifts over time, and your guidelines will too.

I've written about this more here, for anyone wanting the longer version :)