Address and resolve crises and conflicts in your community.
At some point, it is inevitable that a conflict will come up in your community. A conflict is a clash of interests between two or more people that could range from a difference of opinion to an argument or more harmful communication. It’s not unusual for community members to engage in a conversation where differences of opinions may arise. However, when those differences become serious, negative or turn into a significant conflict, community managers should intervene.
In this lesson, we will review what conflict moderation looks like in an online community, how you can prevent it from happening, and which strategies can address and resolve crises and disputes.
What does conflict look like in an online community?
People can engage in debates or conversations online that are controversial. That is part of normal community interaction. However, when a discussion escalates and participants become deliberately aggressive or insulting, this is a conflict and it’s important to take action.
Conflicts usually arise when two or more people disagree, and, despite their best attempts, aren’t able to achieve a mutual understanding. This can happen because of differing values, opinions or perspectives, and often occurs when someone’s feelings are hurt in response to a conflicting view.
In online communities, conflict can range from negative posts, rude comments and inappropriate language to bullying or harassment.
How can you minimize conflicts in your community?
As a community manager, you want to make your community a safe place for open and respectful debate. You may not be able to eradicate conflict completely, but you can follow these strategies to keep debates civil:
Write clear community guidelines.
Community guidelines reflect how you plan to uphold your mission and values and show the kind of behavior you want to encourage in your community. Your guidelines should state the consequences of not following the rules.
Share your community guidelines regularly.
Repost your community guidelines often to remind your members about them. You can share your guidelines to your whole community with a post, comment on specific discussions where you think conversation is becoming negative or send private messages to members who are engaging in heated conversation. If you are using Pages, make a pinned public post to share your guidelines. If you are using Groups, make an announcement, which you can refer to when needed, or use the rules section.
Train your team to spot early signs of conflict.
You will not always be available to track content and conversations in your community. Empower your team to recognize early signs in heated conversations about controversial topics. Delegate the responsibility to moderate discussions and take action to enforce your community guidelines.
Encourage your members to report conflict.
Members should be able to report posts or tag admins in the comments of heated conversations. When a member reports a post, community managers will receive a notification. This enables you or someone on your team to address the situation. Members can report content to the community manager or to Facebook.
Use keyword alerts to track potential negative comments.
Turn on keyword alerts to stay ahead of disagreements. If you know that certain language is banned or indicative of conflict, you can flag those keywords and receive an alert when they are used in your community.
Curate all published content.
In communities like groups where members can post their own content, consider using post approvals. This way, you can approve posts before they appear in your community.
These strategies may not prevent conflict in your community completely, but they can help you to take action before negative conversations escalate.
How to manage conflict in your community?
Act quickly in a conflict to minimize its impact and keep your community safe. Here are some actions you can take:
Always step in. Leave no conflict unmanaged.
Moderate or comment on a conversation that you think may escalate to a conflict and is moving away from your community guidelines. Show members that you care about the way they speak to one another and that your community doesn’t tolerate rude behavior. If needed, you can reach out to members privately to understand the source of conflict and remind them of the rules.
If intervening and moderating the discussion doesn’t solve the conflict, consider turning off comments or removing the posts. Before closing a post or a post’s comments, it’s important to be transparent and state why you decided to do so, providing feedback for the involved members. For instance, you can say that the conversation was not productive to the community anymore and it was moving too far away from an appropriate context, or refer to the community rule the post was not adhering to.
Mute, remove or ban members from your community.
If intervening or closing the conversation doesn’t work, you will have to consider other approaches. The options you have to moderate your community will look different based on the product you are using. In Groups, you can temporarily mute or block members, and in Pages, you can hide or delete member comments or ban people from your community. When you take actions like these, it’s important to be upfront and open about why you took them.
Keep a record of conflicts and crises that have occurred in your community. Count how many conflicts have been solved and how many are active. Try to bring this latter number to zero. Your record will help you measure your community health.
Let’s test your knowledge
Conflicts happen when two or more people have a disagreement that escalates. In an online community, conflict is unavoidable and it will happen eventually.
Be proactive in taking actions to prevent conflict, such as writing and sharing clear community guidelines to maintain respectful conversation that you, your team and your community members can enforce.
When conflicts arise, act quickly. Join the conversation to moderate it, and mute, remove, ban or report members if necessary.