How to Craft Community Guidelines for Your Learning Community: An Operator's Handbook

Explore effective community guidelines for a vibrant learning community. Learn how to create, integrate, and enforce respectful and productive interaction norms using Disco's innovative tools.

What you'll learn in this article:

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Picture a vibrant learning community - a melting pot of ideas, conversations, and shared knowledge.

Now, imagine steering this dynamic environment towards positive, productive exchanges. This is where community guidelines come into play, acting as the lighthouse guiding the interactions within our learning community toward safe, respectful shores. And who better to facilitate this journey than Disco, with its advanced tools designed to simplify the process of integrating and enforcing these guidelines?

In the subsequent sections, we’ll be navigating the crucial aspects of cultivating core values within our community, crafting understandable and actionable guidelines, and integrating these guidelines with Disco’s tools. We’ll also explore the expectations for respectful communication and discuss how to enforce these guidelines fairly and effectively. Fasten your seatbelts, and let’s begin this enlightening journey!

What we'll learn together:

  • Understand the importance of establishing core community values and clear guidelines in creating a respectful and productive learning environment. This involves stakeholder input, encouraging diversity and respect, and fair enforcement of rules.
  • Leverage advanced tools like Disco for the effective integration and enforcement of these guidelines. Disco's features like AI co-pilot, custom onboarding, and Slack integration can help manage member queries and ensure adherence to community standards.
  • Regularly update the guidelines based on member feedback to ensure they remain relevant and useful. Also, make sure to handle community risks and violations effectively to maintain a safe learning environment.

What are Community Guidelines?

Community guidelines can be considered "the rulebook for your learning community". They are a set of rules and norms that outline what is considered acceptable behavior within the community. They help members understand what's expected of them, how they should interact with each other, and what actions could lead to consequences, such as being removed from the community.

Understanding the importance of community guidelines is crucial for the success of a learning community. These guidelines serve as a backbone, supporting a safe place and respectful environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

They help to prevent misunderstandings, conflicts, and inappropriate behavior, and ensure that the community remains a positive and productive space for learning and growth. By clearly defining what is and isn't acceptable, community guidelines help to foster trust, respect, and mutual understanding among all members.

The Importance of Writing Community Guidelines

Having community guidelines is like having a compass on a ship.

It not only provides direction but also sets the tone for how community members should interact with each other. The benefits of having community guidelines are numerous. They ensure that everyone is on the same page about what is expected from them and what kind of behavior is not acceptable. This clarity can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, and it can also help to create a more inclusive and respectful community.

On the other hand, not having community guidelines can be like sailing without a compass. Without clear guidelines, members might not know how to interact with each other, which could lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.

It could also lead to a lack of inclusivity and respect, as there are no clear standards for behavior. Therefore, having community guidelines is not only beneficial but is also essential for the success of a learning community. So, how can you craft effective community guidelines for your online community?

Here are the key steps to do that:

Step #1: Cultivate Core Values

Cultivating core values involves gathering insights from our stakeholders, providing a platform for individuals to voice their visions, and ultimately, creating a collective vision that serves the greater good.

This process is made more robust and inclusive by acknowledging and respecting the gender identity, race, and national origin of all community members. This ensures that the core values are truly representative of a diverse community, fostering an environment where everyone can learn and grow together.

These values, such as:

  • respect
  • responsibility
  • fairness
  • community
  • trust
  • integrity

guide our community members in their interactions and align with international human rights standards, thus serving a public interest value.

How to execute this step?

For brainstorming sessions with your community members, a variety of online whiteboard tools such as Miro, Whimsical, Canva whiteboard, and Google Jamboard can be utilized. Should you find yourself crunched for time, a simple yet effective method would be to request feedback from every member through survey forms like Google Form, TypeForm, or the Disco online quiz tool.

To streamline the process and keep all your resources organized, you can leverage the integration tool provided by Disco. This all-in-one solution can significantly enhance your efficiency.

An example of core values:
  1. Inclusivity as Our Collective Vision

How do we shape a collective vision that influences behavior and interaction within our community? The key is inclusivity.

Inclusivity ensures that all members of our community, including those with private information, are taken into account and that their perspectives, needs, and voices are reflected. Our community standards or guidelines serve as a lighthouse, guiding our community members safely through the sea of interactions and preventing any potential abuse or negative activity that could pose a risk of harm.

The influence of our collective vision is not limited to words on a page - it provides a shared purpose and direction, like a compass guiding a ship, steering our community towards a common goal with public interest value.

  1. Encouraging Diversity and Mutual Respect

As we journey towards our shared goal, it's vital to respect and value every community member. This respect and value extend to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or ability.

Here, our community guidelines play a significant role, in expressing the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, advocating representation from various communities, and fostering a welcoming space with an inclusive atmosphere.

These guidelines serve as our compass, guiding us towards a respectful learning atmosphere by establishing explicit standards for conduct, discouraging illegal activity, and encouraging empathy and comprehension.

How you can involve founding community members in crafting community standards?

Community guidelines are the pillars that uphold this environment by outlining the expected behavior and standards for all community members, including the prohibition of graphic violence and sexual content. By encouraging community involvement and promoting social presence, community leaders can foster a supportive learning environment.

Integrating a learning community platform like Disco, the #1 learning community solution, can significantly streamline the process of gathering founding members. With the help of Disco's live events feature, you can easily organize community-wide events with the topic of "Weekly Office Hours: Crafting Community Guidelines". Through this, you are involving your founding members to write the guidelines for your community.

Thanks to Disco's smooth Zoom integration, hosting these events becomes a breeze, allowing you to automatically invite participants and send out calendar invites.

Step #2: Crafting Understandable and Actionable Guidelines

Now that we've defined our core values and highlighted the founding member's involvement, it's time to dive into the specifics of creating the community guidelines.

Just like anyone needs clear, easy-to-understand instructions to complete a task, community members need clear, understandable, and actionable guidelines to interact within the community.

These guidelines serve as our rulebook, ensuring a safe and respectful environment for members to interact with each other. They help prevent the sharing of harmful or offensive content and discourage the creation of multiple accounts. Let's see how you can achieve this:

Use the Right Language

The language used in our community guidelines, often referred to as "the tone of voice", plays a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity within our community. It's like the welcoming voice over a public announcement system, ensuring everyone understands and follows the same rules. By utilizing inclusive language and respecting the diversity of perspectives, we can create a positive and inclusive environment.

Avoiding company-specific acronyms and jargon and incorporating inclusive language in our communication is a necessity. Some questions to ask yourself to figure this out correctly:

Identify your community member's persona. What kind of community members do you want to be part of your online community? What is the language they are using, in terms of dialect, jargon, slang language, and the tone of voice they use in communication?

Align with the goal of your community. There are different types of communities. In the online community landscape alone, we have:

By figuring out the type of community you have, it's easy to identify your member's persona and align the language you'll use.

Provide Clarity

To provide clarity in your guidelines, you must be precise and explicit in your language providing context on every rule. This means avoiding ambiguous terms and providing a specific example of what is and isn't acceptable behavior.

It's also beneficial to use a friendly and approachable tone to ensure the guidelines are approachable and easy to understand. Remember, these guidelines are a roadmap for your community members, so the clearer the instructions, the easier it will be for them to follow. Coz if not, the stakes are high if guidelines are not clearly stated.

Unclear guidelines can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and inconsistency in enforcement. This can result in a breakdown of trust within the community, as members may feel uncertain about what is expected of them. In the worst-case scenario, unclear guidelines can even lead to harmful or disruptive behavior going unchecked, damaging the overall community environment. Therefore, clarity in your community guidelines is not just beneficial, it's essential for the health and success of your community.

Specify Handling Community Risk & Violations

Specifying and including how to handle community risks and violations in your community guidelines is essential for maintaining a safe, respectful, and productive learning environment. Such content violates the guidelines, community members know the consequences and how to handle situations like this.

Clear guidelines empower community members and moderators to take action against these violations and reassure the community that inappropriate behavior is not tolerated.

Regular Updates and Feedback Integration

By reviewing the guidelines regularly and soliciting feedback from community members, you can ensure your guidelines stay relevant and continue to serve everyone. What's more is, that other new members would feel a sense of belonging knowing their feedback is valuable in updating community standards.

Step #3: Integrating Guidelines with a Learning Platform

Just as school rules are prominently displayed on bulletin boards, office windows, and doors to ensure students are constantly reminded of them, community guidelines must be made highly visible in online communities.

This is crucial for reinforcing the rules and expectations within the community. Therefore, these guidelines should be seamlessly integrated into your learning platform, ensuring they are easily accessible and always in sight for all community members.

Communication Channels

As you navigate your learning community in the Disco platform, communication channels act as your signal flags, aiding in the effective dissemination of your guidelines. By creating a clear and concise post or announcement and regularly sharing reminders and updates, you can ensure that the guidelines are well-communicated and understood by all community members. Your efforts to raise awareness will contribute to a more cohesive and informed community.

Here are the online places where you can post, pin, and highlight your community rules:

  • social feeds
  • direct or group messaging
  • channels
  • Slack community

Slack Integration

Running your online community in Slack? We've got you covered! Disco has Slack integration for learning communities that are using Slack as their communication channel. With Disco's feature, you can automatically connect your learning platform to your Slack community, which serves as a reminder for your members to finish courses, attend live events, inform about new resources, etc.

AI Co-Pilot

Disco's AI co-pilot is your digital assistant, designed to help you manage member queries swiftly and ensure adherence to community guidelines. It's like having an extra set of hands on deck, capable of learning from your community's historical data and being trained to automatically answer questions about your community standards.

This means you can devote your time to more critical tasks, knowing that your members' inquiries, comments, and concerns are being handled efficiently and effectively.

Custom Features for Custom Guidelines

Disco provides an array of customizable features designed to facilitate the seamless integration of community guidelines. These features can be tailored to fit your community's unique needs ensuring optimal functionality and effectiveness.

Custom Onboarding

For instance, during the member onboarding process, you can establish community guidelines right from the get-go. This helps new members understand the expectations and rules of your community from the outset, setting the tone for their future interactions.

Learn how to onboard new members effectively on Disco!

Custom roles

Furthermore, Disco allows you to create custom roles with specified permissions for users. It allows you to delegate tasks and control access to certain features or areas of your platform, enhancing the overall management and security of your community.

These customizable features provided by Disco are not just add-ons, but essential components that help your community sail smoothly towards its objectives. They ensure that your community operates optimally, and serves its purpose of fostering a positive, respectful, and engaging learning environment.

Few Advice to Manage Your Community Successfully

Constructive Conversations

Constructive conversations involve respectful, equitable dialogue aimed at finding solutions or understanding different perspectives. Your community guidelines serve as the guide that directs these conversations, promoting respectful dialogue, fostering diverse perspectives, and cultivating empathy.

Addressing Conflict & Responding to Violations

Your learning community should address and resolve conflicts to maintain a positive and harmonious environment. Your community guidelines provide a clear set of standards for resolving these conflicts, ensuring a fair and consistent conflict-resolution process.

Meanwhile, community managers should respond effectively to guideline violations. They follow a clear process for handling such violations, ensuring a fair and consistent response.

Preventing Harmful Content

Your community should prevent harmful post content to maintain a safe and respectful environment. Your community guidelines guide you in preventing harmful content such as:

  • illegal activities
  • offensive material
  • hate speech
  • cyberbullying
  • hate groups

Enforcing Guidelines Fairly and Effectively

Just as a community leader enforces rules to maintain order, community managers should apply guidelines effectively to maintain a positive and respectful learning environment. Community managers from various locations worldwide are responsible for reviewing reports and taking necessary action.

On another note, transparency in reinforcement involves providing information about content rules, enforcement techniques, and any actions taken to delete, demote, or delay content that violates the guidelines.

Learn more on how to build a successful community!

Supercharge Your Learning Community

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The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

Our Final Note

In essence, community guidelines are the compass that guides the ship of our community, setting the course for positive, respectful, and productive interactions. They are an integral part of maintaining a harmonious atmosphere, preventing conflicts, and ensuring that every member feels valued and heard.

Furthermore, integrating these guidelines with a leading learning community platform like Disco not only simplifies the process but also enhances the effectiveness of your learning community and business.

Unlock the secrets of building, managing, and scaling successful learning communities by downloading Disco's learning community playbook for free! This comprehensive guide is packed with innovative frameworks and valuable strategies to ignite engagement, nurture growth, and foster meaningful connections.

Moreover, put your learning communities on the map by featuring them in Disco's learning community directory. This will not only increase your community's visibility but also position it within one of the most respected community listings in the industry!

Published on
December 10, 2023
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