How Do You Moderate LinkedIn Discussion Forums?
May 8, 2012 / By Alex Gorbachev
These are my personal rules that I’ve been following moderating the public forums on LinkedIn. I’ve posted on that topic in the discussion on IOUG Exadata SIG forum. As I’m passing RAC SIG group to the next folks on the board (I’m the RAC SIG president until end of August) I needed to hand over my forum management duties too. I decided that it might be useful to the wider audience so why don’t I just publish this on the blog?
First of all, the rules of posting must be stated clearly in the group description. This is the brief disclaimer I put on RAC SIG LinkedIn Group:
No recruiters, jobs and unrelated marketing postings please – violators are banned. RAC technology related promotional material must be posted in promotions section.
Now how do you enforce it? Adding moderation of all posts is adding delay to the posts and often it’s important that they appear timely. Thus, I leave all comments appearing automatically and do moderation afterwards. With this approach I need to be a bit more aggressive to violators.
You will never satisfy 100% of the group on how you moderate or how you setup the rules. However, usually the group is lead by an individual or a small group of like-minded individuals. The best practical solution that I know is that discussion moderators decide to apply group’s rules using their personal judgement to approve, delete or even ban the author from the group. Unfortunately, there will always be somebody who disagrees with the call made but as long as the vast majority of the group is happy, I think it’s the way to go.
The value of the group communication is that communications are personal and that posters pay attention to the group’s topics and rules. LinkedIn is full of people who simple blindly use it as a free spam channel — they automatically post materials in all groups that have very remote chance to overlap with their target audience (including job posts, blunt marketing and SEO). IMHO, such impersonal communications are not tolerable. In the past, I have tried to send private messages to such violators but I never had any response so I decided to not spend my (valuable) time on this and simply ban such members.
There are, however, people who are personal with their communications (be it job posts, promotions, or marketing). You can see because they are at least directly relevant to the group’s focus area and the messages are written for the members of the group even if they focus on a competing technology or alternatives. In such case, my responsibility as a moderator is to help them classify their message accordingly by communicating to them and re-classifying their posts.
What are classifications? Jobs are easy. Promotions are a bit more complicated but not by much. Posting about certain companies’ services, products and achievements — that’s a promotion. Posting invitations to training classes classes and webinars is promotion as well. Promotions are good if not abused — they just need to be classified as such and members of the group are smart to pay attention and trust to ones that matter to them. Of course core communications of the core group activity (like organized webinars) are not promotions and have the place in core discussions.
I think these guidelines are simple. There is some place by subjectivity but that’s OK as long as people trust that subjectivity.
If you have any other approaches and recommendations — feel free to comment. I’m sure it will be useful.
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