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9 Community Rules Examples to Keep the Good Vibes

April 25th 2024
Community Rules Examples
Table of Contents

Setting down good ground rules ensures that your community is a safe environment for all members. Good community rules are based on respect and mutual understanding and when all members adhere to the rules, a community thrives. Here are 9 community rules examples to help you establish a thriving community—online or off.

Why do you need Community Guidelines?

Community rules, or guidelines, are essential because they protect community members against abuse, define an outline for dealing with conflict, and create a pleasant atmosphere where community members can thrive. There are four distinct reasons why communities need guidelines:

1. Safety and Security

Protecting community members against cyberbullying creates a sense of safety and security within the group and encourages positive interaction. Guidelines that protect community members from harmful content and ensure privacy are the first step to creating a safe environment where community members can engage in meaningful conversation. 

2. Conflict and dispute

Clear guidelines allow moderators to resolve conflicts and disputes swiftly and fairly. When community members are aware of the rules and the consequences of negative behavior, the number of conflicts are reduced, as the group has agreed to a set of predetermined consequences for actions. 

3. Inclusion and equality

Rules that promote inclusion and equality ensure that all community members feel welcome and heard. This creates a pleasant, welcoming vibe that encourages engagement. Community groups with strict rules against discrimination and hate speech ensure that all community members have a pleasant experience interacting with the group. 

4. Social cohesion and cooperation

A shared goal creates social cohesion and cooperation among community members as everyone is striving towards a common goal. Highlighting the groups’ shared values, interests, and common objectives helps members find a sense of purpose in the community.

Common Community Rules

Community rules and guidelines are fundamental in creating a vibrant online community. The following rules will encourage respect, digital safety, and engagement. Here are some examples:

1. Be Respectful – Encouraging Constructive Conversations

Mutual respect requires members to “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” Encouraging constructive conversations ensures that everyone feels valued. A great example of this rule in action is Stack Overflow, an online community for data scientists, and developers. 

Stack Overflow’s Code of Conduct clearly states what kind of behavior is expected from community members:

“Engaging with users

No matter where you engage on the network with your peers, we expect all users to treat 

one another with kindness and respect. Remember, we are all here to learn; sometimes, people make mistakes while learning. While comments and other actions may not be meant to be harmful, they can still inadvertently end up causing harm. If you encounter something you believe is harmful, please flag it for moderator attention, and our moderators will assess the situation.”

2. No Hate Speech – Fostering Inclusivity and Tolerance

Any communication that demeans individuals based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other characteristic should have strict consequences. Create a safe space where all individuals are protected from abuse and create a place where community members feel safe. 

Moderators must strictly enforce this rule and punish those who break it. Reddit has been particularly successful in removing hate speech from their community. Here is how Reddit has worded their policy on hate speech:

“Remember the human. Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. Everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence. Communities and users that incite or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.” 

3. Stay on Topic – Keeping Discussions Relevant

Community groups should have a common goal or interest, and members should be informed about the group’s purpose. Rules that encourage members to keep discussions relevant help prevent the discussions from devolving into chaos. 

A notable example of a community guideline aimed at maintaining focus on the group’s primary purpose is found within Goodreads, a platform aimed at book enthusiasts. Goodreads enforces a guideline that can be summarized as: “Content Must Be Related to Books, Authors, or the Goodreads Community.” 

Here is how Goodreads has worded this rule:

“Reviews with off-topic, irrelevant comments about the author’s personal life will be deleted. For example, if the author owes you money, that is inappropriate information for a book review, and it will be deleted entirely.”

Not only does Goodreads clearly state what content is deemed unacceptable, but it also clearly states that the content will be removed. 

4. No Spam – Preserving the Quality of Content

A no-spam policy in online communities is pivotal for preserving quality content . A no spam policy typically prohibits unsolicited advertisements, repetitive postings, off-topic content, and content that does not contribute to the community. 

Enforcement of this policy involves the use of a combination of automated tools, such as spam filters and active moderation by volunteer moderators. Online communities also often rely on members to report spam content and quickly remove it from the platform. 

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, enforces a strict no-spam policy as part of its community guidelines. LinkedIn’s policy prohibits “Spamming or Repeatedly Posting the Same Content,” including irrelevant or unsolicited commercial messages. 

Here is how LinkedIn has worded their No Spam policy: 

“Do not spam members or the platform. We don’t allow untargeted, irrelevant, obviously unwanted, unauthorized, in appropriately commercial or promotional, or gratuitously repetitive messages or similar content. Do not use our invitation feature to send promotional messages to people you don’t know or to spam people otherwise. Please make an effort to create original, professional, relevant, and interesting content to gain engagement. Do not do things to increase engagement with your content artificially. Respond authentically to others’ content and disagree with others ahead of time to like or re-share each other’s content.”

5. Privacy Matters – Protecting Member Information

Protecting member information is a top priority as members’ personal information can be misused. Privacy matters because members’ sensitive information may be at risk of being accessed by hackers, such as the data breach experienced by Facebook in 2019 where the personal details of 530 million users were compromised, according to NPR.org.  

Use technologies such as firewalls, HTTPS connections, and proxy servers to protect members’ information on your virtual community. It is also important to explain the steps community members can take to protect their information. 

Couchsurfing is a company that helps connect travelers with local hosts. Privacy is imperative for Couchsurfing members as they share information about their homes, locations, and personal details. Here is how CouchSurfer has worded this guideline: 

“Do not take conversations off the Couchsurfing platform: We want to ensure you have meaningful, engaging, and safe interactions with other members. Our Trust & Safety Team works around the clock to monitor the site for misuse and review member reports. Accessing interactions is the best way for our team to identify issues and react quickly. We do not allow members to exchange external communication information without a confirmed couch request. Never share your phone number, group chat links, email address, or other personal information to move conversations off-site (this includes profiles, messages, hangouts, groups, public trips, and events). If you have a confirmed stay with a member, exchanging phone numbers is allowed as backup communication; however, we ask that conversations still occur on the website or within the mobile app when possible.”

6. Help Others – Promoting a Supportive Atmosphere

A rule that encourages members to help each other is vital for promoting a supportive atmosphere that fosters collaboration and support. “Help others to help yourself” is a fundamental rule that helps communities grow. Members feel valued when they share their expertise, and everyone learns something. 

A great example of an online community that fosters a spirit of positive support is GitHub, a platform for software development and Git version control. 

Here is how GitHub has worded its community guidelines for promoting a supportive environment:

“Be empathetic – GitHub is a global community with people from various backgrounds and perspectives, many of which may not be your own. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes and understand their feelings before you address them. Do your best to help make GitHub a community where others feel safe contributing, participating in discussions, and sharing different ideas.” 

GitHub encourages a positive, inclusive, and respectful community. Many projects on GitHub include a Code of Conduct file to communicate expectations for behavior.

Additionally. GitHub has included several different features such as repositories, Forks, Pull Requests, and the GitHub Marketplace that enables community members to collaborate. These features and guidelines work together to create a platform that supports software development projects of all sizes and complexities and fosters collaboration in a  global community of developers.

7. Community Standards: Encourages adherence to community standards and policies.

Encourage adherence to community standards by creating a reporting system that moderators and members can use to report violations. Ensuring that community standards and policies are upheld will foster an environment of cooperation. 

Reddit provides a button beneath every post that enables community members to report violations. A page is also provided to report violations: “https://www.reddit.com/report.”

Once a community member reports a violation, a moderator is responsible for resolving the issue. Reddit has a code of conduct for moderators in the community that reads as follows: 

“Moderator Code of Conduct: Enforcement

We will strive to resolve issues with you without resorting to restrictive measures. We believe that, in most cases, we can achieve resolution and understanding through discussion, not remediation.

If an Admin informs you that you have violated the Moderator Code of Conduct, your cooperation and swift responsiveness can help resolve the issue. We want you to be the best mod possible and encourage you to ask questions and seek clarity. We will not tolerate hostility, refusal to cooperate, or continued encouragement of rule-breaking behavior across Reddit.

If any mod of a subreddit responds with hostility or is uncooperative, or we find the issues to be unresolvable via educational outreach, we may consider the following enforcement actions:

Issuing warnings

Temporary or permanent suspension of accounts

Removing moderators from a community

Prohibiting a moderator from joining additional moderator teams or creating new subreddits

Removal of privileges from, or adding restrictions to, accounts

Adding restrictions to Reddit communities, such as adding NSFW tags or Quarantining

Removal of content

Banning of Reddit communities.”

8. No Self-Promotion – Keeping Commercial Interests in Check

Self promotion, especially for profit, turns a community forum into a marketplace. Authentic communication is important when members interact in a community as it keeps individual commercial interests in check. Community forums are not an appropriate place for members to promote themselves or their products.

According to Forbes, it is important to communicate what is considered self promotion. Consider encouraging members to share values, examples of work and good news about themselves. However, trying to solicit community members by requesting that they buy a product, use their service, or to promote a business should be discouraged. 

Reddit has worded this rule as follows:

“Rule 3. No self-promotion.

“Posts linking directly to social media (IG, TikTok, YouTube, etc.) with the goal of getting views are strongly discouraged and may be deleted at mods’ discretion. We want you to engage, not promote and run. We ask that you maintain a 9:1 ratio of participation in the sub (outside of your own threads) to self-promotion; repeated posts without further community participation will be removed.”

9. Enjoy the Space – Encouraging Positive Engagement

It is important to remind members that your community group is a space to enjoy.

Communities are built to encourage engagement and collaboration. Enforcing strict community guidelines ensures that it is a safe environment for all members. 

#Eventprofs, an online community for people working in the events industry encourages their members to enjoy themselves and highlights this in their community values: 

“Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Knowledge: We love sharing our knowledge and can always help someone find what they are looking for.

Privacy: We don’t like social networks that sell our data so any sponsors we have will never be given your personal information without your opt-in. 

Fun: Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive!”

9 Community Rules Examples within Guidelines

A thriving community has clear guidelines that help to foster positive engagement. Taking note of how other groups have implemented community rules can help new communities write effective guidelines for their own community. Here are a few examples:

Example 1: Earthed 

The Earthed community forum enables members who are interested in environmental matters to connect. To ensure a pleasant experience for all members, the Earthed community guidelines request the following of members who post content: 

“Be respectful: Treat others with kindness, empathy, and respect. Avoid personal attacks, offensive language, or any form of harassment. Remember, we’re here to support and learn from each other for the betterment of our planet.

Stay on topic: Earthed is a nature skills platform that helps anyone, anywhere, learn to grow. Please keep the conversation to nature skills, ecosystem restoration, and agroecology. Report inappropriate content: If you find any content offensive or violates our community standards, please report it immediately. We will review the issue promptly and take appropriate action. 

Use appropriate language: Your language should be suitable for all ages and cultures. Refrain from using profanity, offensive terms, or any form of hate speech. Let us create an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

Respect copyright and intellectual property: When sharing content, ensure you have the necessary permissions or give proper credit to the source. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not tolerated.

Avoid spam: Refrain from posting repetitive, promotional, or irrelevant content. This includes excessive self-promotion, advertisements, or links to unrelated websites. Our forum is focused on meaningful interactions and information exchange.

Maintain confidentiality: Respect the privacy and confidentiality of others. Do not share personal information without consent or engage in discussions that breach confidentiality agreements or legal obligations. Our community thrives when we collaborate, learn from each other, and engage in meaningful discussions. 

Adherence to these guidelines ensures a positive and respectful space for all members. Earthed has a zero-tolerance policy regarding inappropriate online behavior and anything we consider to be abuse, bullying, or harassment. We will take steps to remove any Members who create or seek to create harm. When we consider that a Member is not abiding by the Community Guidelines, we will send one initial warning via email or via the platform messenger. If the behavior continues, the Member will be removed.”

Earthed community guidelines
        Takeaways for Your Community: Encourage members to quote credible sources and avoid plagiarism and copyright infringements. This ensures that the information being shared is credible and trustworthy. Tailor rules to the community’s niche to ensure discussions remain on topic.

Example 2: Deviant Art

The Deviant Art community showcases members’ original artwork, allows members to receive feedback, and participate in creative challenges. Artists are also able to sell their digital artwork online. Here are the community guidelines for the Deviant Art members: 

 “Guidelines for Deviants 

Respect other authors. Tag your mature content. Don’t post hateful content. Don’t post child sexually exploitative material. Promote meaningful interactions Respect other members Don’t manipulate media with indecent intent.”

Community Guidelines for DeviantArt.
Takeaways for Your Community: Ensure that members only post content that belongs to them, or credit the original author of the content. Create guidelines that encourage a positive environment where members are respected and receive helpful feedback. Foster creativity within your group while providing a platform safe from spam and hate speech. 

Implementing and Enforcing Rules in Online Communities 

Implementing and enforcing rules are crucial aspects of creating a thriving community. Moderators require a clear plan of action when members disregard rules, otherwise, the community will be in danger of becoming a toxic environment. Here are some tips to help moderators ensure that members comply with the established rules and regulations: 

Introducing Rules to New Members

Introduce new members to the community rules when they first sign up. Create an onboarding process for all new members to ensure that everyone familiarizes themselves with the community guidelines.

Setting Clear Consequences for Rule Violations

Set clear consequences for members who violate rules. Community guidelines should clearly state the consequences of breaking the rules. Consequences for rule violations can include censorship of content, and removal from the community. 

The Role of Moderators in Rule Enforcement

The role that moderators are expected to play when enforcing rules need to be clearly defined. Moderators manage disputes, respond to feedback from the community, reward positive behavior, and protect the anonymity of members who report abuse. 

Moderators are expected to act swiftly and not to show partiality to any community member. Create a strict code of conduct for moderators to deal with conflicts. This will develop trust and help create a sense of authority for moderators.

Clearly defined moderator roles ensure that community members have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Creating good vibes in your community requires that moderators deal with infringements swiftly. 

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