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Wait, What Did I Just Agree to? 8 Ways to Update (and Enforce) Your Terms & Conditions

Written by Jenny Taylor | on November 30, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Let me set a scene that may or may not look familiar to you. Your wonderful, beautiful, source of life (seriously, what would we do without it?) iPhone or Android is going through a new software update. The "Terms and Conditions" screen pops up with all sorts of words that don't make much sense to you.

You quickly hit "I Accept" and let your phone go through the motions for new, exciting changes from version 112.2. Maybe there's a thought that crosses your mind about what you actually accepted, but in all honesty, whoever reads those things, right? For better or worse, we live in a society that doesn't read the fine print. Unfortunately, this likely includes our community's Terms and Conditions/Rules and Etiquette/Community Guidelines. So what happens if members start to violate these rules?

Here's a list of ideas and resources to hopefully help, in the event your community members may need a friendly reminder of community expectations.

8 Ways to Update (and Enforce) Community Terms & Conditions

1. Implement a three strikes and you're out policy.

Wherein the first strike gains a written warning, the second strike of the same nature receives a suspension, and the third strike results in a permanent removal from the community.

2. Call members who have violated the terms and conditions.

As part of or separate from the three strikes policy, call members who have violated terms, and gently remind them of the agreement. Discuss the appropriate avenue for channeling their feedback or rephrasing for their original question.

3. Send an announcement about a violation to the entire community.

If a member has violated a rule, send out an announcement to the community, reminding them of the guidelines (without accusing any specific offenders). Like I mentioned above, so many people skim or skip the terms and conditions, so a gentle reminder to everyone can only serve as reinforcement.

4. If there are consistent offenders, put them on full moderation.

This way, you can catch offending posts before they are submitted and send along a written reason as to how it violates the rules.

5. Send messaging to all members to encourage self-moderating.

Reach out to members (or your champions), encouraging those who see violations of the terms and conditions to self-moderate. This serves the purpose of letting members feel as if they have some control, and will act as a deterrent to violate the rule.

6. Create separate terms and conditions for certain issues. 

If there is a particular rule or guideline members seem to be struggling with, create a separate terms and conditions for those members to really drive that rule home. A common example is self-promotion –consider developing a more fine-tuned terms and conditions for those in the supplier or sales market and push out to that demographic.

7. Offer separate communities for promotion.

If you have an issue with promotion, create a separate community specifically for offering products or services. This way, members looking for services can proactively reach out to those providing resources. You can update your rules and etiquette document to direct people to this section.

8. Remove direct solicitation from your guidelines. 

Similarly to #7, if you have an issue with members directly advertising to other members, it may be worth removing that portion of your guidelines helping vendors to contact members directly.  Some community members may not appreciate direct solicitation, so changing the language to encourage those offering products and services to contact your advertising department (or send them to the specific community for that purpose) may be the best route for all involved.

These are just a few suggestions- I'd love to hear your strategies for encouraging the adoption and enforcement of your community terms and conditions! 


Topics: Online Community Management, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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