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Forum Administration: As your forum grows, how do you maintain a positive, respectful membership?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by DomainArchitect.com, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. DomainArchitect.com

    DomainArchitect.com Active Member

    My preference to visit those sites with polite and well-mannered members, regardless of content, has never been so apparent until now. Since joining this site, I have noticed that other members show respect for one another and manners (e.g. someone asks 'Why is that relevant?' or 'Can someone enlightenment me about [X]?' and the question is politely answered by a member who subsequently receives a 'Thank you' from the original poster).

    People are not noobified on this site, obviously because it wouldn't be tolerated in this community, but I was curious how some of you keep a positive, respectful, and well-mannered forum especially as the membership swells to tens of thousands of members? Or is my perception that it is an incredibly daunting task, correct?
     
  2. Trombones13

    Trombones13 Well-Known Member

    I personally feel that the forum I frequent and am an administrator of has always built on a strong sense of community. The forum is fairly diverse in age, gender, etc., yet people have always been rather welcoming of one another and respectful. We've always encouraged respect and politeness through our forum rules, and it also helped that the forum began with a large "family" feel. These members stuck around on the forum and, through their behavior, influenced incoming members to feel welcome, and they paid it forward from there. Making new members feel welcome (one thing that helps is our "Welcome New Members" thread, where people can introduce themselves and get help if needed) and helping them understand how to use the forum (since a good handful of them are teenagers who may not be used to navigating forums) is important, too: it makes them want to stick around, and it makes them want to pass their knowledge and kindness on to new members. Hope that helps you. :)
     
    Abomination likes this.
  3. Dean

    Dean Well-Known Member

    I do what I can with clear communication and reasons why things should be a certain way, instead of 'I said so' or ignoring people. Our forum is also reasonably polite, respectful, and helpful.

    When things do come up that are not as pleasant, a please/thank you works for me almost all the time.

    When that does not work, I moderate their posts so they need to be approved before they show up. We do not use an infraction system, I would get more staff as a first step before doing that.

    In addition all new members have their posts moderated. That solves a multitude of problems.

    I think xf software will also promote good behavior. Easy to use, and has a Like & Trophy system.
     
    gordy likes this.
  4. Floris

    Floris Guest

    Part of the reason why we are nice to each other here (well, I try to be hehe) is that we know the users from sites we post on, sites we help the admin on, and know them as vBulletin or IPB customer. We're all kinda players in the world of communities.

    But having said that, we also realize the value of content and participation. Knowing that if you contribute and think twice before posting you get the info you're looking for from others, plus if you post well, others will respect that and learn from it, repeating that behavior.

    Having a community is one thing, having a community where users know each other is another .. time is what creates that. Allowing space for community members to socialize with each other and talk about the site. Where the staff is open and flexible, all helps improve that positive mood.

    On my own sites I am always very strict about one thing; malicious users who their only reason that they are there is to disrupt normal posting, ruining the mood for everybody. They get a) a chance to learn that they're in a different community that trolltown, and b) no chance to get away with not learning that.

    But more value than that is simply allowing users to browse, register, participate at no cost, and no bull towards them about what their options are on the site. Allowing them to share opinion, and allow them freedom to have a different opinion than others. This might seem logical, but it's not always the case, and it leads to cliques of users sometimes if you don't allow that.

    Building a community is hard, and takes time, good content, a good team of friendly team members, and patience from everybody.
     
  5. pk698

    pk698 Active Member

    Such a relevant question yet the answers are quite elusive and varied because all admins runs their forums differently. And of course, it's a huge task once you get thousands of members. Then you are no longer an admin, but what I like to call instead "a baby sitter". I ran a forum for my college alone until about 700 members, with a few hundred active members. Once it grew to over 2000, I added moderators to help me police the forums because it was just getting out of hand (a college forum, imagine that). I think you just have to be fair and objective - again, not quite an easy thing to do because what's fair and objective to one might be completely different to another. You also have to stick by your rules, so it's important to lay down well-defined rules and guidelines.

    At one point, we got to a point where the students were misbehaving left and right. The mods were having a hard time keeping things in line. So, I made a forum called "the pit" - a forum where I allowed any and all kinds of post. The pit was a great way to let students just goof off. I also made a clause where it would spell out the details of the Pit: where if you enter the Pit, you enter at your own risk and the site holds no liability for you entering into the Pit. In all, giving a place for members to goof off helped a little bit. It also provided them a place to vent about anything they want.

    So yes, it's really difficulty once you establish a large, diverse user base. And another thing you can do is to get feedback from your members... of course. But as I said before, set out well-defined rules, have your mods help you, and have a place for your members to goof off.

    cheers.
     
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