Creating a community of readers or an online community in general is an accomplishment in itself. This does not mean that the challenges halt as keeping this community as a positive place to interact is imperative. The wrong few people can ruin the great time others are having or can cause issues between users.
Don’t Give Them Anything To Complain About In Terms Of Website Design
The website design is going to have to be very good as members of a community can and will start a thread complaining if the website is not user-friendly. Adding things like animated SVG icons can make a huge difference and differentiate the community from others. The loading symbol on Barstool Sports is a great example of this as it is specific to just their community. A website that wants to grow a community needs to think of that community when completing the design of the site.
Realize They Could Be Working For A Competing Blog/Company
There are going to be trolls and unlikeable characters that are made by competing blogs or companies. Competition online is intense as the financial rewards for creating a large community with genuine engagement can be vast. These people need to be removed as they could result in losing loyal community members by being immensely insulting. Identifying these people will not be easy though as creating a reputed member of the community then publicly chastising the community is far more effective than doing this with a brand new member name.
A Community Moderator Is Imperative
The larger a community grows the more risk there are for people looking to belittle users or harass those that do not agree with them. A community moderator might not be needed full-time but someone should be dedicating time to making sure that everyone feels welcome in the community. The moderator should be fair though as not all people reported are going to be breaking guidelines of the community. There are going to be those users that seem to report everyone so this should be monitored as well. Having every post get flagged is enough for some users to leave the community never to sign back in again.
User Agreements Need To Outline Appropriate Behavior
The user agreements need to have the rules and expected behavior of members listed explicitly. The members understanding what is appropriate and what is not needs to be clear. Misunderstandings do happen so a warning system for certain toxic behaviors should be created. Blatant hate speech or racism needs to be expelled immediately but remember hate speech needs to be defined. A person could claim what they consider to be hate speech but is far more sensitive than the general user community. Ranking community members by those that have liked posts, comments, or other content created is also a valuable tactic. This allows members to see who is making a comment and whether they have a good reputation.
There is going to be toxic behavior on the internet but that does not mean you cannot eradicate it from your reader community, user community, or any type of community online that you have established. This will take consistent effort but it will increase the overall quality of the community.
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