Creating Online Community Guidelines, Rules, And Values

LikeMinds is a chat platform for premium micro-communities. We are on a mission to enable 1 million community entrepreneurs to help people connect, learn, and grow together. In an increasingly digital world, people are building private communities on instant messaging platforms in the quest for this experience but have to compromise a lot.

  • Deeper conversations create lots of spam for people not interested in the topic
  • Too many notifications in active communities force people to mute the groups
  • There are no tools to support community building
  • Multiple conversations happening in parallel makes it difficult to follow the relevant ones
  • In larger communities, members don't have enough background about each other

LikeMinds helps communities engage deeper by enabling real-time conversations between relevant members in shared chat rooms, which dramatically reduces spam and fosters collaboration. On 23rd February 2022, we at LikeMinds hosted our fourth roundtable on the topic 'Online Community Guidelines - Creating Community Values, Rules, and Guidelines.'

There are certain values, rules, and guidelines that a community builder should decide and define, at least the first version of it, before starting the community. And then, use that as a framework to make certain decisions around various aspects of community building, whether it is moderation, what type of events to conduct, what kind of people do we want, what kind of behavior do we want, and what kind of seeding do we want to do.

All these decisions are generally driven by the community constitution. Online community guidelines and rules are a mix of the values, practices, and brand personality of the community. Here's how you can create them:

  • Write points which should reflect the value, mission and vision statement
  • Best way to approach the rules is to examine your industry best practices

If you're in search of a platform that can help you grow your community and sell memberships, consultations, events, and courses in a super effective way, then check out LikeMinds now.

What Are The Values Practised At CommunityHood?

At CommunityHood, before this roundtable, we never thought of writing these values down ourselves. We are still learning, we are still early in our journey of a lot of things and these roundtables also become a way for us to learn. So, when we started writing down, these are some of the values that we could come up with:

  • We are extremely focused on empowering communities. Whatever we do, it has to empower communities.
  • The second biggest thing that we realised was that we want to be resourceful. While we try to make our sessions fun and entertaining, the bigger focus is on how can we add more value and learning for our attendees.
  • The third one is active inclusiveness, where we actively try to reach out to a lot of you and have one-on-one conversations. A lot of things we do are volunteer-led.
  • And then, friendliness comes relatively below but it is still quite important. We want people to be friendly with each other.
  • However, we don't want people to spam each other. We try to maintain our friendliness over no spam but we still tell them that "Hey, this is not the right place to write it down."
  • Over time, we have seen that a lot of people learned and they have stopped putting promotional ad posts in spaces which are open to everyone for different purposes.
  • And the last one is agility. We don't know everything so we have to be agile and we have to keep evolving our values.

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Introducing Our Volunteer Leaders

  • Priya Bhatt - Community and Brand Speciialist at Springworks.
  • Nirav Chahwala - Creative Entrepreneur and Founder of BRANDFLUENZERS Community.
  • Vineet Nandan Gupta - Facebook Certified CM with Expertise in Community strategy and Growth consulting.
  • Manohar Kabeer - Community Manager at Mentza and Founder of 90ML Talks.

How Do We Determine Community Values?

If you are building a brand community, then try to reach out to the decision-makers and understand what are the values of the organization. Also, try to figure out what are some of these values that you want to take back into your community. Then decide which are the primary and secondary values. So, that's how one should prioritize and then only use those values which help to make decisions. Don't keep them open-ended.

Following are some of the questions that helped us to come up with these values:

What Is Important To Us As A Community?

  • Being resourceful
  • Provide value for time spent
  • Source of social connection
  • Provide a sense of belonging

Conversation as a value, fun as a value, helping each other as a value, mutual benefit and strong relationships, mutual understanding, and mutual trust. So, this word mutual came up very often when people were sharing and I think that it indicates that somewhere everybody feels reciprocity should be a common value of cost. It should be something both parties should feel.

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How Do We Want Our Members To Treat Each Other?

  • Support
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Welcoming

We at CommunityHood try to welcome everyone who joins the community. Nipun (our founder and CEO) personally makes sure that he welcomes every member because, for him, that is an integral part of the community.

The underlying feeling almost everywhere, even if we chose different goals is respect. Mutual respect is a common thread. It is a non-negotiable value that people want their members to treat each other with. Some call it civility, some call it respect, some call it anti-bullying. Respect is one part but everybody should be aligned when it comes to bullying.

Zero tolerance to bullying should be there. And finally, there should be honest communication. I am not sure if all communities can follow it, but if they do, that's great. But a community of psychologists, where people are there for their mental well-being, definitely should follow honest communication.

What Is The Vibe Of Our Community?

  • Welcoming
  • Interactive
  • Generous
  • Empathy
  • Optimism

Community building is a very young industry in our country and all of us are doing an amazing job. But we need optimism to take that leap of faith where we help each other without thinking of short-term benefits and things will turn out to be good in the long run.

People used words like semi-formal vibe, house party vibe, and curiosity was something two people mentioned. What they meant was that basically, people should engage with each other with curious intent. They should try to learn from each other. The kind of content that is there in the community should be either driven from curiosity or should serve curiosity. And, the vibe should also be non-judgmental. 

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How Do We Capture And Communicate Our Values?

  • Try to understand the why and WIIFM/T (what's in it for me/them)
  • Community rituals (e.g. welcome each other, talk about events)
  • Community events and activities (e.g. being heavy on learning, focus on having fun)

How Do Values Help Fulfill The Community's Ultimate Purpose?

  • Helps to identify important goals
  • Strengthens decision-making
  • Ensure alignment to our current roadmap
  • Builds trust among members

Community values essentially help us to navigate around different decision-making frameworks. Our community values eventually become our differentiator. Manohar tells us, "A lot of people might think of values as something where people would consider them as what value is being delivered to the members. But that is a different value. Here, when we say value, we are talking about principles."

So, establish those core principles on how do we want to treat the community and what is the culture of the community. It reduces ambiguity and also helps in handling conflicts. These values can be bracketed across intellectual value, cultural value, social value. So, when you are thinking of these values, try to use all these frameworks and see what works for you.

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A Few Examples Of Brand Community Building

  • One is the Salesforce, where everybody is part of the trailblazer community and they want to use it better, build over it, and sell it better. The whole idea is that Salesforce is a CRM software but it tries dollar and cents for your business and the fun, what they have, is very strategic.
  • Second community is adidas Runners. So, you don't need to have Adidas merchandise to be a part of Adidas Runners. It is more about coming together. What happened after one and a half years of adidas Runners coming into place, the merchandise sales simply went up and every metric on the marketing kpi was being hit through the community being put into picture.
  • Lastly, the lifestyle brand example was of The Jeep Community. So, the folks who owned the jeep, they can call themselves The Jeepers, although the Jeep company calls them #thejeeplife. You are a part of the larger collective, making sure that you are doing the conscious effort.

If you want to learn from the experience of leading community builders themselves, then join CommunityHood now. And if you feel you can help other community builders in upskilling themselves, then also we'd like you to be a part of CommunityHood.