Best practices for managing your community

Tom Cook
Tom Cook

When you first launch a community with Gather, we recommend that you follow some basic steps and enable certain features to help you to guide your users and make managing your community easier.

Writing a community code of conduct

Before you launch your community, it’s important to write down what the rules of the space will be. This helps users to understand how to participate in your community, and what kinds of things won’t be allowed.

In addition to letting users know the things you might not want them to do in the community, for example, posting spam or harassing others, also consider things like:

  • Is it ok for people to promote their business or solicit other users to contact them outside of your site?
  • Are there terms, phrases, or certain kinds of activity that will not be allowed in your community?
  • If a user violates any of the rules, how will they be enforced? It’s good to explain to users what will happen if they violate the code of conduct.

Post the code of conduct in your community, and consider pinning it to the top of a topic. It should be easy for users to find and refer to.

It’s important to revisit your code of conduct regularly, and make adjustments to the rules as required. If you have a legal team as a part of your organization, you might want to include them in the process or get their approval.

Here’s the Zendesk Community Code of Conduct as an example.

Setting up content moderation filters

We recommend using the content moderation feature to help avoid spam and other inappropriate or abusive posts being published in your community.

You can choose whether you want to moderate all posts, or just those matching certain keywords. You’ll need to evaluate which option will be best for your community, depending on the kind of audience you’ll be engaging, the size and capabilities of the team you have managing your community, and how much of a risk is posed by spam in your community.

Moderating all posts can be very effective in eliminating any spam from getting through. However, it is best to use this feature only if you have a team that can be highly responsive in approving posts (that is, they can log in and approve content whenever a notification is received, or periodically during your community’s most active hours), or if your community is one that does not require speedy responses. This is because when the content is pulled into the moderation queue, the user has to wait for a Guide Manager to approve the post before it goes live, which can lead to a significant lag between when a user tries to make a post and when it actually appears in the community.

Using the keyword function allows you to specify words that, when they’re present in a post, trigger the post to go into the moderation queue to be reviewed, and then either approved or rejected by a Guide Manager. This means that posts without any of the keywords are published immediately, which is preferable for a community trying to foster high conversational engagement. However, this option does run the risk of allowing some spam posts through on occasion, until the spam filter learns or a new keyword is added to the filter.

See moderating end-user content to learn more about content moderation for your Help Center.

Creating moderator groups and setting permissions

The community moderator feature enables you to assign certain permissions to groups of users (agents and end-users) so that they can assist your community managers to moderate the community.

This feature is not available with Gather Legacy. See About Gather plan types.

Identify a group of trusted users or agents, and give them the ability to flag posts for moderation, so that they can help hide anything that shouldn’t be in your community or flag questionable content for your community managers to review.

There are a variety of permissions that you can give to these groups, and you can set up multiple groups with different sets of permissions. To learn more, see creating community moderator groups.

Creating your first few topics

Start by creating two or three topics in your community. More than three topics can spread your users across too many spaces, especially when launching a new community.

To determine what your initial topics should be, you should consider:

  • Your goals for the community
  • What your customers or users are most interested in talking about

It can be helpful to look at support tickets that you already receive. See what areas come up most often, then create a topic in your community for users to discuss that topic. Your topics should be specific enough that users know what they’re supposed to do when they get there, but broad enough to apply to a wide variety of users.

Fill in the description field for your topics, to help users understand what they’re supposed to post.

Writing pinned “how to” and welcome posts in each topic

In addition to the topic description, it is helpful to write a pinned post to explain to users what the space is for and how to best use it. If the code of conduct tells your users what not to do, this post tells them what you do want them to do.

This step is especially helpful if you want to encourage users to post in a specific format, include specific information in their post, or use voting in a specific way.

For example, your topic might be set up for users to share recipes. You want them to follow a format of listing the ingredients first and the recipe instructions second. You might also want them to vote on their favorite recipes. While this might seem intuitive, it will be helpful to explain what you want them to do.

Another example might be collecting product feedback, where you want to encourage users to post which version of a product they’re using and answer some specific questions in their post.

Here are some examples from the Zendesk Community, explaining to our users how to participate in different topics:

  • How to ask a question in the Zendesk Community
  • How to write an effective feedback post

Customizing your theme

As a bonus, consider customizing your community’s theme to make your new community’s look and feel match the rest of your website or brand. A common theme can help your users feel more at home and connected to the other ways they connect with your organization online.

The Zendesk Guide theme is highly customizable. There are a number of free and paid themes available in the Zendesk Marketplace, or you can contact a Zendesk partner to assist in building a custom theme.

More community resources

If you have any questions about any of these recommendations, from writing your code of conduct to determining which kind of content moderation to use, or on setting up your moderator permissions, you can connect with Zendesk Gather experts in the Zendesk Community.

Ask any questions specific to setting up or launching your community in the Gather Q&A topic.

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