Communities: With Freedom Comes Responsibility

Community guidelines are important. They give you a framework to make fair and productive decisions about moderating. They help your members understand what behavior is acceptable and promotes positive discourse.

But Guidelines are not enough. As Diabetes Daily has grown, there have been more posts that fall within our guidelines but are unproductive. We spent the last week debating these special cases and uncovered a set of principles that, if embraced, would substantially improve the level of discourse.

Yesterday, we posted Responsibilities of an Open Community. Here are the principles we are embracing – you can read the post for more detail and specific examples.

  • Principle 1: Everyone can participate in the conversation.
  • Principle 2: If someone starts a thread, let them lead it.
  • Principle 2 Corollary: Respond primarily to the person who started the conversation.
  • Principle 3: If someone requests personal experiences on a topic, reply if you have personal experience.

These principles are an attempt to build a productive culture on Diabetes Daily. As a support community, we have a specific set of needs that may go beyond what political or popular culture community might want. But as I read and re-read them, I think they are applicable to any tolerant, respectful, and productive community.

So did we get them right?

And the harder question: how can we disseminate these principles so that they stick?

  • Every new person that joins the community needs to be told about these guidelines to ensure success. Also, whenever the admin team needs to step into a discussion where the guidelines are not being respected, a link back to them helps.

  • davidedelman

    We are creating a “New Member Orientation” piece and I think a strong statement of values and links to these discussions will be critical. We're adding about 500 new members a week and maintaining (and improving) our culture is critically important.