Recliner Free Throw
Creative Commons License photo credit: swanksalot

I take our user guidelines very seriously. If a post violates our guidelines, it is removed, documented privately and the member is contacted. So, when I say I am laid back about how I approach guideline violations, that is not what I mean.

What I mean is that guideline violations aren’t, in and of themselves, something that demands your immediate attention. I try not to create a sense of panic. I also try not to let them disrupt me from my normal routine or whatever I am doing.

For example, if I am checking my e-mail before sitting down to dinner, and I get a report from someone saying that someone has used a vulgarity, or has cross posted or that there is some spam, I’ll throw it into my “to do” folder and go to dinner. I will not visit the site immediately and handle the violation.

The reasons are simple. The biggest one is that there are more important things in life than immediately handling some minor indiscretion. Sacrificing even a portion of dinner with my family is a very bad trade off. So is sacrificing my own productivity or the quality of my work in some other area.

That spam, that comment can wait. A member of my staff may take care of it, may have already taken care of it, when they visit the site on their normal routine. Or, if not, I’ll grab it when I stop by next. (The rare exception to this is something like pornography, a threat of physical harm and things of an extreme nature). It’s not going to hurt anything.

For me, this is part of setting realistic expectations with your members. I do not, do not want my members to think that when they report a post, that that sends some sort of immediate page to me that I will answer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to immediately come to the site and handle that post.

I don’t want them to think that, if I did that, that would be “good community management.” It wouldn’t be – it would be a disaster. Violations happen and will appear and the more members you can get that through to the better offer that you will be.

Plus, to say the least, it’s bad for your team and your staff. I believe it fosters a sense of panic. “Oh my gosh! I got a report! Everything in my life, pause immediately! I must go to the forums and remove that spam!” No one wants to be on a team like that for very long, even if these are paid employees.

Instead, what I try to drill home is that a violation of our guidelines, especially spam, is not the end of the world. Don’t focus on spam. We have 10,000, 100,000, 300,000, 450,000 posts on this community and only a handful that might be a public violation of our guidelines at a given moment. So, as a community, let’s focus the virtual monopoly that is good content.

For my staff, I attempt to emphasize that guideline violations are a process. See them, remove them, document them and contact the member. It’s nothing to panic about or stress about – it’s simply a process. Stay calm, keep it light and execute.

My “laid back” approach is rewarded with a more understanding member base and a calmer, more relaxed, enjoyable experience for me and my staff.