Guidelines make it clear to your members how you expect them to to treat each other and how you want things to run. If you are clear about what is acceptable in your Forum and consistently enforce the rules, most Forum participants will respect your wishes.
Guidelines are usually placed on a Forum's Start Page, or in a message thread that is linked to the Start Page. Here are some suggestions for setting guidelines for your Forum:
- Tell People it's OK to Post
This may seem like an obvious one, but many members (especially those new to Delphiforums.com) need a gentle prod to know that it is okay to join in. A friendly invitation always helps those who are hesitant add their thoughts to the discussion.
- Explain How Things Work
If you have any particular guidelines about how to post messages or where to put messages on specific topics explain them on the Start Page. Some Hosts explain where to put posts that are off the main topic of the Forum while others remind their members that it is okay to disagree.
- Define Vulgarity
This may be one of the most important guidelines to include because it varies from Forum to Forum and person to person. If you feel strongly one way or another, make sure you tell your members.
- Define Appropriate Behavior
What people consider offensive behavior varies widely. In some Forums, "trash talk" is acceptable, while in others, it is not. Explain your rules on how people should act right up front. If language that may be insulting, attacking, or rude is OK in your Forum, say so. If this is the case, you may want to politely suggest that if people aren't comfortable with that, there are plenty of other Forums they can participate in.
- Signatures and Graphics
Some Hosts find it helpful to set guidelines about members' signatures and posting graphics in their forums. Using large graphics, many smaller graphics, or animated graphics can really slow down the loading of Forum pages. As the the Forum host, you may want to gently remind your members about this, or create a specific guideline to address it.
- What Happens If Someone Breaks a Guideline?
Most Forums run smoothly without a hitch. When and if a member does act inappropriately it is important that they know what will happen. It's typical to have a warning followed by a gag, and then perhaps being locked out. Usually the most effective response is when other members call a person on it and remind them that what they've done is not okay. This can only happen if your Forum has clear guidelines that everyone can read on the Start Page.
Here is an example of Forum Guidelines you may want to look at while you're creating your own.
- Forum guidelines listed at bottom of start page.
Remember, this is just an example of some commonly used guidelines. As the Forum Host, you're in charge, so use whichever ones you want.
To have any of your hosting questions answered by staff, volunteers and other hosts please visit the Host Support Forum - click here
For further one on one help in learning to use controls and features as well as hosting a forum please visit the Host Mentors Forum - click here