Forum Creation: Creating Policies 101

Shawn Gossman

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Shawn Gossman submitted a new Article:

Forum Creation: Creating Policies 101

Forum Creation: Creating Policies 101
By: Shawn J. Gossman (Owner, WeatherBB.com)

Welcome to one of my new series of Articles called, Forum Creation. There will be no particular order of how I submit these articles of this series as it depends on what mood I am in and what I want to write about, lol. This article was intended to help people create a basic set of forum rules and a privacy statement. These two policies is the only policies you really need on a forum. Terms of Use isn't needed for a forum, maybe a credit card service but not a forum.

Rules and Guidelines

The first step in making a good set of rules and guidelines is planning the placement of them. I place mine on a link at the top navigation bar of my forum, it shows on every page allowing people to clearing see the link. You want to make sure people can clearly see the link to your rules policy on every page so that if it comes to it, you can tell them the rules link is in full view of every page which they can easily click on to read them. Another suggestion would be creating an announcement or global sticky thread with your rules or a link to the rules page so that is shows in every board section as well. There is no such thing as over showing your rules. I even place a link in my signature to them and I do this all because I want people to read them so I don't have to go around enforcing them continuously.

The next thing is writing the rules itself. Begin the rules with the title. I call mine "Forum Rules and Guidelines". I have researched the terms used for calling the policy what it is and found that combining the two terms "Rules" and "Guidelines" seems to appear as a calm method of showing a policy. Why would this even matter? It really doesn't except for marketing purposes. It can help set a positive mood when things are professional and calm looking. Its like what colors you use and how you staff team acts. Anyways, create your title and then put a paragraph as the first part of your rules. Make the paragraph about welcoming them to your privately owned forum and explain that in order to provide a fun atmosphere, they must read and abide by the following rules and guidelines at all time. Be sure to include an agreement pitch like "By using our forum, you agree to follow these rules at all times." and also include a part saying if they do not agree, then may not use your site.

Next is the fun part! I will ask questions below which will give you an idea...

Read more about this article here...
 
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floris

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Great article, thank you for posting. It's a good read and I have my own ideas about some of the points. However, the biggest issue is: clutter.

You can get clutter if you write it all down. There's just now way for a staff or a member to read it all and understand it all. Summery of the rules and policies is also big enough to even remember all.

You can do this, you can't do that. This is never allowed, but this is always expected.

Organizing it is very hard. And I have been wondering if the FAQ manager in the vBulletin 3 branch or perhaps a stand alone staff forum with a wiki attached to it, might be the solution.

I simply don't know. I just know I tell every new staff: we never delete ANY content. And if it is ever required, we never physically delete anything. We also do not delete accounts with posts on it. Unless it's a merger and we allow users to opt-out.

I wish I could summarize policies and rules to: use common sense, and keep it simple. Discuss anything you do with others until we're all on the same page.
 

Shawn Gossman

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Floris said:
Great article, thank you for posting. It's a good read and I have my own ideas about some of the points. However, the biggest issue is: clutter.

You can get clutter if you write it all down. There's just now way for a staff or a member to read it all and understand it all. Summery of the rules and policies is also big enough to even remember all.

You can do this, you can't do that. This is never allowed, but this is always expected.

Organizing it is very hard. And I have been wondering if the FAQ manager in the vBulletin 3 branch or perhaps a stand alone staff forum with a wiki attached to it, might be the solution.

I simply don't know. I just know I tell every new staff: we never delete ANY content. And if it is ever required, we never physically delete anything. We also do not delete accounts with posts on it. Unless it's a merger and we allow users to opt-out.

I wish I could summarize policies and rules to: use common sense, and keep it simple. Discuss anything you do with others until we're all on the same page.

Thanks for the feedback! The clutter issue just reminded me of one idea I should have put in the article. You can beat the clutter issue by simply creating a short version of the rules which is short but to the point and then providing a link to the long-detailed version if they wish to read beyond that. I have found that always works in situations like what you are saying. :p

bozonessinc said:
I tried out what you said with your policy:
Tweet Forums Regulations - Tweet Forums

Tell me how I did please. I want to know if there are any other things I maybe should put!

Those look like a great set of rules bozonessinc! I think that is all you need right now. From experience to experience in forum management, you may go back and delete some or you may add some, we all do it at some point. Just be sure to announce it when you change it for legal purposes.
 

bozonessinc-AdEx

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I've moved my rules to the FAQ since I felt it's a better place.

I want to read another guide by you for TOS and Privacy Policy!
 

Shawn Gossman

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Okay I think I may write two more articles on TOS/TOU and Privacy :) Maybe even one on copyright too!
 

Lburou

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Mar 10, 2010
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Thank You!

This article was helpful in writing Official Rules and Guidelines for my new site. It saved us a lot of time and expanded what we originally had in mind, it is a great resource. :eek:
 

Vilandra

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Jan 26, 2004
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Floris said:
Organizing it is very hard. And I have been wondering if the FAQ manager in the vBulletin 3 branch or perhaps a stand alone staff forum with a wiki attached to it, might be the solution.

We've used the FAQ for our rules since it was possible to add to it. I'm actually pretty surprised that most forums I see don't use it at all.

It's become a massive document lol but I think it works really well in that EVERYTHING pretty much is covered. So when someone does something idiotic lol you can just point to the rules where you covered your ass ;) I sometimes loosely interpret some of the things but when I need to I have it in black and white.

PS Those are great questions Shawn :)
 

MjrNuT

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Vilandra said:
We've used the FAQ for our rules since it was possible to add to it. I'm actually pretty surprised that most forums I see don't use it at all.

It's become a massive document lol but I think it works really well in that EVERYTHING pretty much is covered. So when someone does something idiotic lol you can just point to the rules where you covered your ass ;) I sometimes loosely interpret some of the things but when I need to I have it in black and white.

PS Those are great questions Shawn :)

I just checked out you, I mean your FAQ on the Buffy boards and I have to say....fantastic!!

Thanks for mentioning this because because I've always wanted to find a way to use something already available. I just have to utilize it. I have not delved into it yet, but can you comment on the effort level is? Is it simple to just add your content, separate it, etc.?

Thanks
 

Vilandra

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You mean to add to the Faq? I think it's easy as posting, it's mainly just taking the time to sit down and do it. And it's not like you can't start small and change it. We didn't have nearly as much the first time I added to it, but it's grown as things came up and we found a need to add things. When people ask the same questions over and over it's a clue to us we're missing something in the Faq.

:)
 

Lisa

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I would say the only pain about using the FAQs is having to use html for it all. So long as you have a basic understanding of the html needed for paragraphs, emphasis, etc you'll be fine.
 

Vilandra

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Really all you might need is <br><br> for a blank line, and <b> and <i> if you want to "dress it up" a bit lol. My html is not that great lol :)
 

Lisa

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You'd be surprised at how few people know just that LOL

Incidently <p></p> is better for paragraphs than using <br>... which should actually be <br /> as it's a self-closing one :D
 

WinInizio

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Shawn said:
Privacy Policy

Privacy policies are simple

Of course, for us living in EU this are a little bit more complicated.

According to European directives, we must also indicate:

- Who (person) is responsible for the processing of personal data;
- Where these data are physically stored.
- How the owner of personal data (member) can read and modify his/her personal data;
- How he can delete his/her personal data (in the EU if a member requests to unsubscribe we, as webmaster can not refuse to do it, we must delete and remove all the member's personal data.)
- If the data are stored outside the EU (for es. the server is in the U.S.) we have to previously inform the members that their personal data will be transferred outside the union and to have their approval for it.

We can be more or less agree with these regulations, in any case we must respect them because by breaking them, especially in certain EU countries can be a quite serious crime (see the case against Google in Italy).
 

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AlanCIT

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Thanks again Shawn, another great article bookmarked for future use :)

Dr. Jekyll, thanks for that additional info, I've never really given much attention to EU law as I usually host in the USA (despite living in the UK) - guess I'll have to do some research on it :)
 
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