Making Community Kind - A How-to of Kindness

Making Community Kind - A How-to of Kindness

Antman234 is exchanging heated words with KickThem45 on your community. They’re arguing over who is better, Batman or Superman. Or maybe it’s Wonderwoman or the Green Lantern. It’s hard to tell now. It’s not a civil argument. Certain words are being used. Things are being implied about each others’ respective mothers. Assumptions are being made. The problem is not the argument. The problem is that this is not a conversation built on kindness. It’s possible you’re not encouraging kindness in your online community.

But how can you get your community members to be kind? Well, the same way you get most people to be kind. (Believe it or not this article was partially inspired by this article on kindness in the classroom. You have to admit… there are some similarities between an online community and 3rd grade.) Here are some ideas on encouraging kindness in your online community.

Start off with kindness

A great way to go about encouraging kindness in an online community is, if possible, to welcome all new members with a kind, personal note. By doing this you set the stage for further kindness. Use this email to describe the community culture you’re trying to build and to encourage the new member to be kind in turn.

If you get too many new members to keep up, set up a similarly kind auto-message.

Set an example of kindness

You can’t force your members to be kind. But you can be kind yourself. Make sure all your dealings, even with difficult members, are kind.

  1. Use kind words.
  2. Don't SHOUT.
  3. Don't call people names.
  4. Be patient with people.
  5. Use smiley faces! :)
  6. Don't hit the post or send button immediately. (If necessary, sleep on something before you post it.)

It won’t always be easy to be kind, especially when other people aren’t. But at least you have the advantage over face-to-face communication–you can think before you speak, every time!

Make kindness personal

Have an introduction thread or forum or encourage new members to send an introduction email. This way people feel like they know the new person. It’s easier to be kind to people you know.

Set up a kindness thread

Sometimes people need a way to be deliberately kind. Set up a thread or email chain specifically for being kind to other people. You can do this one of several ways.

  1. A compliment chain. Everyone has to say something nice about the person before them.
  2. A kindness chain. A thread where everyone has to do something nice for the person before them. Whether that's helping them with something or just draw them some art.
  3. A random compliment thread. People just post compliments about other people here.

Got any examples of how you encouraged kindness in your online community? Have any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

P.S. Other ways to foster a positive community. Some guidelines to give your community structure.