Discuss Communities - Online Community Management Topics

Forum Management How to Create a Friendly Community Environment

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Creating a friendly community environment is important for success.

No one wants to join a disgruntled, mean, and toxic online community. Could you imagine having to go to a home like that? How about going to a school or working in that environment? Of course, we wouldn't want to do that. Now we'd especially not want to go to a community with that environment because communities are supposed to be fun and entertaining.

If you're wondering what makes a friendly community environment, this article is for you.

A Friendly Community Environment Needs Clear Guidelines​

It's important that you create clear and concise member guidelines for your community.

Your members must know what they can and cannot do while engaging in your community. They need to understand why the guidelines are in place and what will happen to those violating them. The guidelines need to be easy to read and understand by all members. Keeping it short and sweet is ideal.

Lastly, you should enforce your community guidelines for everyone regardless of their status in your community or how active they are.

You're Not Just a Community Manager; You're a Community Leader​

It's important for you to lead by example to create a friendly community environment.

If you act polite, friendly, and calm - other people in your community will mimic that behavior. You have to lead to be a leader. A leader is always seen in the community and always has a positive and friendly attitude. Don't let anyone walk on top of you, but that's what your community guidelines are for.

You should also be a leader for any staff members you add, such as moderators and related positions. Show them how you expect them to act based on your own actions.

Be Welcoming and Onboard New Members​

From the start, show people your friendly community environment by welcoming new members and motivating them to join the community action.

A good and planned onboarding strategy will help you create a friendly environment from the start of your community. Every new community member should be greeted in a Private Message/Direct Message if they've not posted an introduction. Welcome them to the community and find out why they joined. Make it feel comfortable to jump right in.

Try building a friendly relationship with every new member if you want them to know how friendly your community is.

Be Diverse and Transparent​

It's important to be diverse and transparent if you want to promote a friendly community environment in this day and age.

You must be diverse and accepting of people from all walks of life, cultures, and beliefs. You should welcome many different cultures to form in your community. You should also always be transparent and never lie to your members. The first lie you get caught making will likely ruin your community and your reputation.

Whatever you do online will always be on the internet, no matter what laws are passed. Keep that in mind when running a community.

Maintaining a friendly community environment isn't as difficult as you might think it is. You just need to ensure you're the creator and maintainer of positive energy and behavior. What other ways do you ensure that your community remains friendly?
I think that even with the best intentions of having a friendly community, that the members can make others feel uncomfortable without breaking rules. On the Christian forum I run, we've had this happen repeatedly and some members wanted others banned because they didn't like how those people responded. I had to be fair to everyone though and wait for those members to ban themselves out by actually committing rule violations. I can't give staff actions just because of attitude. That's not a good leader.