These are my personal rules to moderate the public forums on LinkedIn. I’ve posted on that topic in the discussion on the 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 the 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 it’s often important that they appear timely. Thus, I let all comments appear automatically and do moderation afterwards. With this approach, I need to be a bit more aggressive with violators.
You will never satisfy 100% of the group with how you moderate or how you set up the rules. However, the group is usually lead by an individual or a small group of like-minded individuals. The best practical solution that I know is that discussion moderators should apply the 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 group communications is that they’re personal and posters pay attention to the group’s topics and rules. LinkedIn is full of people who just blindly use it as a free spam channel — they automatically post materials in all groups that have a 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 received any response. In the end, 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 it 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 cases, 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 and webinars is promotion as well. Promotions are good if not abused — they just need to be classified as such. The members of the group are smart enough 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 their place in core discussions.
I think these guidelines are simple. There is some place for 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!