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Defining your Online Community policies is one of the most important steps when launching a community. Members need to be aware as to what “is” and “is not” allowed to be posted within your community. However, planning on how these policies will be enforced within your community is an effort that does not end when you launch your community. Continuous tweaking and decreasing of the “subjective” nature of your policies is an important step to remember.
All of our clients policies, and most other communities in general, have some aspect of “subjectiveness” to them. While we may try to define policies and guidelines that are straightforward as possible, there are always cases where members are unsure where the line is drawn. It is important to continually refine your policies so that your members are aware of what “is” and “is not” allowed.
At the same time, preparing for potential situations in advance is very important as well. How are you going to address content that may have a negative tone concerning your business or your product? What are you going to do when someone says something negative concerning your leadership? What if someone is giving another wrong advise? Where is the line drawn between constructive criticism/discussion and malicious behavior? These are some (definitely not all) of the questions that you need to ask yourself and others within your corporation before you launch your community. If you plan ahead and handle these situations appropriately, then your community will know where the lines are drawn. If you do not handle these situations appropriately, and address these situations inconsistently, that is where confusion comes into play. Trying to think of every situation in advance can be a daunting task, but having a baseline understanding of how certain situations are going to be handled will display to both your company and your community that you have a plan in place, and you are prepared.
As always, thanks for reading.
Note: Cross-posted at mzinga.com