Questions are vital. Asking questions keeps community discussions alive. Asking questions keeps a community manager in touch with the community. You should never stop asking questions – especially when you don’t know the answer.
Recently, a member of Female Forum complained about some of the jokes that were being posted in the ‘Just for Fun’ section of the forums. The jokes in particular were ones that poked fun of specific nationalities and political systems. As jokes go, I didn’t find them offensive – but I could see how they may be to some.
The problem with humor is so much of it is based on issues that, if spoken about seriously, would be offensive to one or more parties. I recognize this fact, but I didn’t want Female Forum to become a place where jokes could no longer be posted, or members wouldn’t want to post jokes for fear of upsetting members or getting their content removed. Furthermore, I didn’t want to add stipulations for the kind of jokes we would or would not allow in the community within the community guidelines.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like seeing long community guidelines – especially when they’re hidden within terms and conditions, disclaimers or other legal mumbo-jumbo. First, it’s impossible to cover every single potential ‘infraction’ or word you don’t want to see in the community. Second, nobody will read the guidelines if they’re too long or too hard to find.
So, I reached out to the member that was reporting the posts with the following message:
I’ve noticed that you have felt uncomfortable with a few of the jokes being posted to the forums of late (I know you’ve hit the ‘report’ button on a couple of them).
To be honest, I’m not sure how to proceed – normally I immediately delete all posts that are reported, but I am not sure how far to take this when it comes to jokes and other forms of humor.
Do you think we should be censoring or disallowing certain types of jokes? I’d appreciate hearing your opinion.
Instead of making a decision as one person without consultation, I asked the member in question what her thoughts were. We had a discussion about the issue, and came up with the compromise of adding a ‘Sticky’ post in the ‘Just for Fun’ forum with the following copy:
The Just for Fun forum is a place for you to share jokes and other humorous stories or anecdotes. When it comes to humor, everyone is different – what one person may find funny, another may find offensive. Therefore, please think carefully before sharing them in this forum.
We won’t be banning or chastising people who post jokes that may be seen as offensive but we may remove these type of posts (at our own discretion).
As a general guideline, consider this before posting your joke or story:
If you were the individual/group being poked fun at would you still find the joke funny?
Generally speaking, it may be a good idea to avoid posting jokes that are political in nature. It’s also worth reminding yourself that we have members from all over the world here at Female Forum, so jokes that make fun of particular nationalities or ethnic groups may not go down too well.
We don’t want to stop people sharing jokes – humor and laughter help to bring people together, and that’s what Female Forum is all about. All we ask is that you think twice before posting some of the more potentially offensive or risque jokes.
In the end, I was satisfied, the member who complained was satisfied and we didn’t have to complicate the existing community guidelines. I was initially unsure how to proceed, but by asking questions, a solution was found.
A satisfactory conclusion, then – all because a community manager reached out and asked for input from a member, rather than acting in an arbitrary manner.
Remember – you don’t have all the answers (not all of the time, at least). Recognizing this will make you a better community manager.