Some online communities thrive on a snarky, provocative tone, and their members love a good foodfight. But if your community members prefer a more mellow, live-and-let-live environment, it can be up to the community manager to ensure that it stays that way. Here are some ideas for maintaining a friendly, civil energy within your online community.
- Set the example - whenever you post, use the conversational tone the community wants to have; be the role model for new members. And don't let a troll bait you into breaking tone.
- Use humor - just as in real life, sometimes a little chuckle can defuse a tense situation.
- Let it run its course - if the situation gets tense, don't whip out the "banstick" immediately. Often, a good back-and-forth will settle itself if you let it go. If it starts to get personal, then you might want to step in and remind the members of the community guidelines.
- Give it a separate area to breathe - we've used this idea with good effect; if you have a small group of members who want to spar with each other, you can create a special forum or area where they are free to do so. This leaves the rest of the community in peace while they lock horns.
- Use some behind-the-scenes counseling - if you have a means of contacting members privately (either via email or private message), sometimes a gentle nudge can bring them back to civility. A private reminder saves embarrassment for the member, and keeps the argument out of the general discussion.
What are your tricks for maintaining civility in your community?