There are a few key steps you can take to build a community that encourages high-quality comments:
- Know your community. What kind of articles will you be publishing? Will you cover controversial topics that are likely to elicit passionate responses? What demographic are you targeting? Once you know who will be posting (and what topics they will be posting about), you can start to…
- Think long and hard about community guidelines. If you know your community, you can create guidelines to protect. Be clear about your policies. If you allow profanity but not bullying, define bullying for your audience. If you allow racial slurs within the context of a historical article but not when they’re directed at another user, make sure it’s explained in your policy guide.
- Build a comprehensive moderation strategy. Visit the comments section of most websites, and you’re bound to walk away with a skewed — and highly unpleasant — view of humanity. Toxic voices will always drown out healthy voices. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re using a blend of smart computer automation and human review to moderate comments, you can build a process that works for your unique community.
- Engage with your best users. Who doesn’t appreciate a good shout-out? Encouraging high-quality content can go a long way towards fostering a healthy community. Give your moderators the time to upvote, call out, or comment on quality posts. If you’ve done the first three steps, your moderators will have time to do what people do best, and what computers will likely never do—interact with users and engage them emotionally.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Your community will grow and change over time, so you may have to adjust your policies as your audience changes. You will probably make mistakes and have to course-correct your moderation strategy. But if you start with a solid baseline, you will serve your audience well.
Originally published on Quora