Community moderation is not just about removing the "bad stuff" in your community; it's about removing barriers to participation and facilitating motivation for members to interact with the rest of the community. By setting moderation objectives, you can more effectively mold your community's culture, resolve conflicts, and steer the community.
Establishing Moderation Objectives
Before you start enacting a moderation plan, you have to figure out what your objectives in moderation will be. Are you wanting to increase the number of members participating, the number of posts, or the overall number of discussions? What about more qualitative objectives like improving the quality of discussion, steering the community more, or fostering better relationships between members.
Too many guidelines are written to tell members what they can't do. Look at focusing on a Welcome Pack instead, giving them an easy way to get started, tips on what the community's culture is and a brief history. Instead of strict guidelines, look at creating a Community Constitution that details what your community is about: the community's purpose (why are you here?), beliefs (what does your community work for?), personality (is sarcasm welcome or verboten?), and governance (what behavior is expected from members and moderators?).
When someone attacks your viewpoint, because community discussions are public, you feel that you have to defend your point of view. Our gut instinct is to avoid conflict but some conflicts can actually be good for your community. Civil disagreements can help develop your activity and increase the level of activity. Moderators should only get involved when attacks get personal, direct threats are made, or the conflicts start spreading to other areas of the community. While there are certainly instances of spammers or bots that deserve immediate bans, when members begin a disruptive streak, it's better to follow an escalation ladder to determine when to get involved and how.
Steering Your Community
Using some careful steering and moderation, you can highlight content, members, and discussions that you'd like to encourage. Making discussions sticky, featuring members, and promoting well-made content can subtly influence your other members. People always want to do what they see other people doing - it's the good kind of peer pressure!
How to Effectively Moderate an Online Community is the third in a series of Community Management Talks with FeverBee founder Richard Millington, who has spent the last 10 years mastering a range of social sciences, refining key community management skills, learning how to use and apply data, and amassing a collection of case studies to tackle every situation. Richard's previous webinars with Ning cover topics including strategies for generating activity, managing growth, facilitating member engagement, converting newcomers into active members, and the science behind it all. To be alerted of upcoming Community Management Talks, email Allison with the subject line "Add me."