The 5 Worst Community Guidelines

Community Guidelines can be a struggle to write, especially since they're so specific to your community and its members. Inspired by a recent #CMGRChat on developing community guidelines, here are some really terrible ways to phrase your guidelines. 

Don't be a nOOb

Really? That's how you're greeting your new members... with admonishment that they might not even understand? Take a minute to think about what annoying behaviors you lump into the idea of a "nOOb" and figure out how to preempt that behavior. 

Don't [this], Don't [that], Don't [this thing, too]

A focus on the negative can make members overwhelmed and almost afraid of the community they're joining. Try to focus on positive reinforcement instead. 

Only moderators are allowed to tell people when they're doing something bad.

In a well-established, vibrant community, members will become pretty good at discouraging unacceptable behavior from newcomers. Obviously, you don't want your community ganging up on new people, but allowing them the freedom to say "Hey, that's not really cool... here's how this community works" to potentially disruptive members can be more effective than a moderator stepping in immediately. 

Having 16 pages of guidelines... for a brand new community.

While you want to make sure that some ideal behaviors are laid out from the start, community guidelines should be heavily influenced by your community. How can you know what those guidelines will need to be until your community has actually gotten started? 

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And the worst community guidelines are the ones you haven't actually written. Relying simply upon a Terms of Use document, with no guidelines on how members are expected to behave within the community is basically letting the Wild West run free within your community. 

Now that you know what not to say, check out this article from The Community Manager for ideas on getting your Community Guidelines started or refined: How to Write Effective Community Guidelines

Lead Image inspired by the list of Rules for Female Riders from an 1895 edition of The New York World. 

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