Last week I joined an online community group and on the same day deleted my membership in the community. It wasn't because the community group lacked information, interaction, had spammers, people with rude behaviors, or any of the reasons we would typically assume. It was for one reason only--too many rules.
I thought to myself, there is no way I'm going to remember all these rules and I will end up forgetting and violating one of them by accident.
My next thought was, I don't have time for this. I need to make my life simple.
My final thought was, what does this online group have that none of the others have? Nothing!
Don't get me wrong, I believe in rules. Setting up sensible rules are necessary to prevent few people from spamming, posting bad links, verbally abusing and hurting others, or posting offensive things. However, there is a balance. Keep in mind that for every bad individual, there are many more who are reasonable, sensible, professional adults who don't need to be treated like children. Keep your rules sensible and balanced for the majority who are not trouble makers.
I have joined a number of online email lists, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and now Google+ Community groups. Some post simple rules that are only a few paragraphs, while others have several pages of specific, mind-boggling, over-bearing rules that no one will be able to remember.
A month ago, I joined a LinkedIn group that I thought would be interesting and helpful. I received a standard welcome email from the moderator with a long list of rules and by the time I got to the third page of rules, I stopped reading. I haven't posted or participated in this group, because to be honest, I'm really not sure what is allowed and what isn't. I will probably leave the group soon. There isn't any point in being a member of something I'm hesitant to participate in.
If you are thinking about creating a community group and the purpose is to build a large network of people that will ultimately increase your platform, my advice would be to try and keep things as simple as possible. Do you really want to waste a lot of time hand-holding, coddling, and reprimanding individuals for the slightest of offenses when you have a lot other productive things to do?
Remember, setting too many unnecessary rules will discourage good people from joining your community, and indirectly slow the growth of your online community.
What are your thoughts? Have you had your hand smacked for posting something to an email loop or an online group forum that you thought would be perfectly acceptable? Have you dropped out or been tempted to drop out of any online communities for something similar? Or have you had to deal with the opposite issue of too much self-promotion and rude comments that went unmoderated?