It is a challenge to moderate large communities. Ideally, as the community grew, the community manager identified those helpful super users and cultivated relationships with them to help them become enthusiastic volunteer moderators.
While volunteer moderators play an increasingly important role in a growing community, it’s also useful to give community members various ways to help moderate themselves and each others.
The community guidelines
Ensure that your community has clear guidelines that your members can find easily. Refer to them and reinforce them. Over time, a community that understands the guidelines will not only follow them, but reinforce them for you. This is crucial for self-governance.
Simple things like answering another member’s question, informing a member that the post is in the wrong area, or suggesting they edit their post are examples of the type of self-governance you should aim for in order to scale your community.
Many forums come with some kind of mechanism for users to report a post. Enable it and then encourage your members to use it and use it properly. Some systems rank the quality of the reported post against the user and float their reports to the top. Other systems may penalise users for reporting non-reportable content.
Remind members that it’s their community and they have an active role in shaping it.
Block posts and people
Not everyone in your community will get along. That’s okay, that’s normal, but if they want to be members of the community, they have to learn to coexist. Make sure you enable a member’s ability to block a user. It’s a useful technique for self-governance.
Help your members govern themselves
Explore tools that help members. For instance, some forums have plug-ins that will prompt a user to rewrite their post based on certain keywords.
Get creative. We once offered self-imposed timeouts where members asked us to block them from the community for a period of time, often 48 hours often longer. It was surprising that it was utilised. Members used it for a variety of things from needing to keep away from a topic that got them irate to having exams on the weekend they needed to study for.
Moderating huge communities is difficult and expensive. As your community grows, self-governance is increasingly important. Remind your members that they have an active role in deciding what kind of community they want to be a part of. Encourage them and give them the tools to do the job.
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