People are very important because they comprise the essence of progress – they tend to form a community, and thus you should really care about their comfort. You should really do.
So how do you do this? My current answer is «I don't know». But you did not come here in vain. I suggest we think about it altogether.
We can surely take some inspiration from other communities on the internet: Subreddits, Stack Exchanges, Discord servers, and Telegram groups. And we'll do it. I've gathered a sample of a few communities from each platform and tried to divide their guidelines into a few groups.
The subject of the community
These rules usually clearly state what is being discussed there and what is not. For example, a lot of communities might involve «The No Politics» rule, but that's clearly not the case for r/politics. So context is important here.
The values of the community
Sometimes there's something more than that to it. Not only do you have a common topic, but you also have a group that postulates common values, and these common values guide you in your group decisions.
Just to give you some sense of what it could be: it could be that in your community you value equality and politeness the most, thus whenever some conflict pops up you should get it sorted out by looking at the values of the community.
This point is also closely related to the Golden Rule of Ethics described below.
You won't believe it but you can spend the whole day asking or answering meta-questions, without actually providing real value for the discussion. Or you could paste the nometa.xyz into your guidelines and help the community to be more on point.
There're lots of rules that help in communication. These are usually more technical and serve the purpose of making communication comfortable:
- Google before you post.
- Do not post files as text, use pastebin.com.
- Use these bots to automate processes for you: ...
But you shouldn't forget that the comfort of users lies not merely in effective communication but also in the choice and use of the latest platform's features. More on that below.
As someone once said(I really can't find it anywhere except in my head):
The complexity of a system that manages another system should be as complex as the fjrst one.
And that's all about creating laws for how the procedures are done. Examples are a multitude:
- If you get warned three times, you get banned.
- You get warned by either moderators or the public majority vote.
- Few chosen active for more than half a year participants get promoted to moderators by administrators.
- The administrator is also a moderator.
- If you think you were banned unjustly, you should write to admin.
- Every half a year you get a chance to be unbanned by the community.
This might also describe the reasons for the warning and that should be intact with Subject, Values, and Effective communication. And although it's not always objective it's much better for your community than an unmanaged anarchy.
Roman law wasn't perfect either, but as it turns out, you don't need perfect, you need working. Just make sure that you somehow add an algorithm for the evolution of your bureaucracy.
We must admit that there are groups that don't use all of the rules. Let's start with a case study of your local friend's group.
It is not that much about the Subject, but it's more about common Values that you share. But even though it might seem that you don't have a specific Subject of interest, you do – your Subject is your friendship.
There's no community without the Subject.
And since there are not a lot of people there in your group, you can skip the Bureaucracy. And Effective communication boils down to being benevolent with your friends as you'd always do, without the need for rules.
Golden rule of ethics
Treat others as you would like to be treated – Golden Rule of Ethics
I don't believe that much in the power of ethics, but this thing is probably going to work. Yet there's one problem with it – this rule is immediately subjective. So, while building a community from the start, one will need to find some common grounds described above.
Once we acquire that, we can begin evaluating the actions of others as either fair or unfair in accordance with our Values, and Subject.
Using platform capabilities
Be it a Discord server or a real-world conference, you need to organize the communication with the use of the latest platform capabilities:
- Communication Channels: Utilize text, voice, and video channels for real-time or asynchronous discussions.
- Organized Structure: Create sections or categories to help members find relevant information easily.
- Moderation Tools: Use automated content filtering, banning, and warnings to maintain a positive environment.
- Notifications and Announcements: Communicate updates and events through pinned messages or announcements.
- Integration and Automation: Explore integrations and bots for streamlined management tasks.
- Analytics and Insights: Leverage data to understand community needs and tailor strategies accordingly.
By maximizing platform features, you can enhance engagement and foster a vibrant and inclusive community space.
A note on Physical Spaces organization
If you think this may be thought out only in online communities, here are the points for your offline activities.
- Event Planning: Organize events, workshops, or gatherings to facilitate community engagement and networking. Consider the needs and interests of the community when planning activities, and provide opportunities for members to contribute and collaborate.
- Feedback and Surveys: Encourage community members to provide feedback and insights through surveys, suggestion boxes, or open forums. Actively listen to their input and make improvements based on their needs and preferences.
- Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaborations with local businesses, organizations, or institutions that align with the community's goals and interests. This can enhance resources, support, and opportunities for community members.
- Recognition and Rewards: Recognize the contributions and achievements of community members. Highlight their successes, provide incentives, or create awards to motivate and acknowledge their efforts.
- Face-to-Face Communication: Foster open and effective face-to-face communication within the community. Encourage active listening, respectful dialogue, and create opportunities for members to connect and build relationships.
The essence of a community
The world is big. It might be even scary in its entirety. That's why we seek shelter – which is small yet cozy communities around the world that we are comfortable with.
They cover our needs for communication, we may frequently find the affirmation of our values and beliefs and thus, they help us accept ourselves.
Yet they are limiting our worldview and make us comfortably numb to someone else's problems. They hide people's personalities and dehumanize the other ones - those that are not part of our herd, thus causing the «Herd Effect».
And here we're coming close up to the limitations of this piece.
I'd like to note that while this article describes one's probable incentives to create the community and how it's generally done, the author's thoughts on this topic are rather controversial.
First, you sometimes just need a community, because the community is where the «Crowdsourcing effect» really shines. It makes everyone benefit from quality community time.
Second, you all still live in the real world and you have other people around who are not part of your community, because they live in an outer world. You can't just pretend that you can isolate yourself from the bigger picture, you can't hide the world's implementation details.
While doubting, you may read «The Glass Bead Game» by Herman Hesse. It teaches us just the thing – you can't make your community outside of the real everyday world. Time is neither unpausable nor unstoppable.
No. I am going to write a second article, which was my actual purpose. This would be on «How to deal with reality in your community?».
The need for polishing
This article shows only the personal opinion of an author that tries to systematize his knowledge around the topic. Thus, as a personal growth, this article is by no means final. I'd hope for three things to happen in the future:
- Me constantly editing for this piece to be as polished as possible.
- Some crowdsourcing happens where everyone gives her/his comments on the theme. Just ping me anywhere.
- I just sit and prove/disprove any hard statements in this article at once. Or show that it's not yet studied.
I hope this will be happening gradually as I grow my communities.
Just go check my socials already. It's down below. Subscribe to my Telegram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while YouTube is yet to arrive. And happy community building to you all!