How to

Write Community Guidelines

in 2022

Are you wanting to write community guidelines for your forum but don’t know what to write? Are you wanting to write rules but at the same time not have too many of them? It is import for all forum owners to write community guidelines before incidents occur so that problems can be dealt with in a productive manner. You should never start a community with no guidelines, there needs to be at least the basic rules that all forums should start out with. In this article, I’m going to show you how to write community guidelines that don’t overwhelm you community but still protect your community as a whole.

Hey there! Before we get into the article, did you know I’ve started an admin forum? Please join, it’s free and we can discuss running forums together with other administrators. Join Now.

Write Community Guidelines that Protect from Criminal Prosecution

Being arrested or prosecuted in a criminal court of law can be extremely devastating. It can result in denial of permits and licenses. It can result in being terminated from jobs. It can result in hefty fines or even a prison sentence. You don’t want to become a criminal or allow you members to become criminals, right? So, you need to make sure you write community guidelines specific to avoiding criminal actions on your forum.

At minimum, you should have a rule stating that “Any form of criminal activity is prohibited from the message forum!” so that members and visitors know right away that criminal activities are not allowed. You should further define what criminal activities means for the community especially for moderators and administrators who will be helping to enforce the rules. Think of anything that could lead to you, your team members, or regular members getting arrested and make a rule against it.

 

Write Community Guidelines that Protect from Civil Liabilities and Lawsuits

Being sued isn’t anything you want to be a part of. Most forum owners are sole individuals when it comes to the business arrangement of the forum. This means if a lawsuit is placed against you over something on the forum, you can be sued as an individual. This is a good reason to consider registering your message forum as an actual business. In the United States for example, you might register your forum as an LLC. ForumTips.Blog is a service of Social Trail Media, LLC. This protects me from being sued as an individual for something that occurred being represented as my company.

Think about all the ways in which you could be sued, or your members could be sued and write community guidelines that prohibit that sort of activity. For example, if your members are uploading photos belonging to someone else without their permission, your community could be liable if it doesn’t act. Writing a rule against posting content that belongs to someone else no matter if they have permission or not would help mitigate this sort of activity.

 

Write Community Guidelines that Protect Everyone’s Privacy

I’m sure you have followed the most recent privacy scandals and government probes of social media networks. A lot of privacy protections have been violated these past few years. There are a lot of civil to even potential criminal cases concerning these violations. Countries are even making new laws and regulations about privacy on the internet. All of the major countries have created laws and regulations including laws like GDPR, COPPA and others. Even networks such as iOS are changing their native settings to require apps follow privacy rules. Violating the privacy of another person or entity is a great way to ruin a message forum in 2022 and beyond.

You should write community guidelines for all privacy concerns for your community, its staff team members, its regular members, and people and entities outside of the community. I even recommend making rules to protect members from violating their own privacy. You should also have a separate privacy policy from your community guidelines as well and include all information concerning privacy on your online community.

 

Free Community Guidelines Template

The following is a basic and generic template for minimum community guidelines. Now, I do suggest you write community guidelines that cater more to your forum, but you are free to use these guidelines on your forum without crediting me or this blog:

Welcome to Your-Forum-Name-Here where you can discuss Your-Topic-Here. In order to provide a friendly and fun online community for everyone, we have created the following Community Guidelines that all members must follow at all times. Do keep in mind that violating these guidelines could result in warnings, suspensions, or even being banned from the community.

  1. Abuse of any kind is prohibited on this community. This includes extreme profanity, harassment, discrimination, racism, hate, threats, and/or stalking.
  2. Spam is prohibited from this forum. This includes commercial solicitation of any kind.
  3. Adult-rated content is prohibited from this forum. This is was created for members 13 years of age and older and is considered a family-friendly online community.
  4. Violations of copyright, trademark, and/or trade secrets of any individual, company, or entity is prohibited from this forum.
  5. Any sort of illegal activity is prohibited from this forum. This includes the promotion of illegal activities such as drugs. This also includes transmitting content/media/files or performing activities that disrupt computer, internet, and/or software access and/or useability.
  6. Off topic discussion is prohibited from this forum. Please keep topics on topic and use the search function before creating a new topic.
  7. Impersonating anyone or any entity of any kind is prohibited from this forum.
  8. Violating privacy of an individual, company, entity, and/or even yourself is prohibited from this forum. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information about your privacy on this forum.

Thank you for reading our forum rules. Please report suspicious activities if you see them even if you’re unsure that it is against the rules or not. Our staff has full discretion on enforcing these Community Guidelines. Please respect our staff team members. This policy may be updated at any time without notice.

 

And there you have it – a guide showing you how to write community guidelines for your message forum in 2022 and beyond. You don’t have to add too many rules these days. However, you want to make sure you add the ones that are important for protecting you, your community, and its members from legal problems. What are the most important rules that you think every forum should incorporate into their community guidelines? Comment on this blog with your answer and please share this post with other forum owners that you know will enjoy it.

SHAWN GOSSMAN

SHAWN GOSSMAN

Founder, Forum Tips Blog

Howdy! My name is Shawn and I founded ForumTips.Blog! I created this blog to share my 20+ years of message forum knowledge with other community administrators and moderators. Learn about useful topics here such as managing, marketing, profiting, and sustaining your message forum community!