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The internet is like a giant delicious pie that’s filled with all kinds of cool junk, and you are building a community for a very specific slice of that sweet internet-pie. Pie metaphors aside, you probably are working to build a unique community filled with people who interact with each other in distinct ways. As a community leader, it is important for you to invest in your community and encourage these conversations and interactions on your site.

That’s where community guidelines come in. They’re one useful tool for strengthening your community by setting straightforward expectations and “rules of engagement” for your members. Check out these communities for some great examples:

The Dissolve

The Dissolve links directly to their guidelines below the comments for better visibility.

Politico

Providing an accessible contact link can help community moderators do a better job.

What community guidelines are right for my site?

If your community is still taking shape, we have some sample guidelines to get you started. But you’ll also want to think about type of community you want to build and the behavior you want to encourage. Maybe your members communicate primarily in cat-memes and puns, or perhaps you hope to generate in-depth conversations and civil debate. Think about the community that you want to build, and how your guidelines can help steer the discussions in that direction.

Guidelines can empower great discussions

Logic may tell you that you should keep your site as “open” as possible, so that you don’t accidentally stifle discussion. However, if you want to encourage quality discussions, providing clear expectations for your community can help focus and curate great conversations.

Guidelines can set the groundwork for what is allowed, and what isn't. By setting expectations of what is acceptable on your site, you'll allow more people to feel welcome to engage.

We want to hear from you!

  • What kinds of guidelines do you set for your forum? Do you have an example?

  • What’s unique about your community and how does that affect your guidelines?

  • Describe a situation where community guidelines had an impact on someone's behavior on your site

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please read our Community Guidelines.

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