Last week, I wrote a guest post for Patrick O'Keefe's terrific blog. It explained how to shape the behaviour of members in a community.
It didn’t cover what the behaviour should be.
Too often, we begin writing rules with a pre-determined idea of what the behaviour in the community should be. Instead we should look to see what behaviour members want in a community and where that behavior is conducive to a successful community.
For example, should members be allowed to talk about their pets? Communities for teenagers might be fine with it, but communities for accounting professionals might be less keen. However, accounting professions might be happier to discuss anything career-related whereas a community of parents might not.
Yet, members might want to talk about issues which are not great for community building. They're either too dull or are likely to result in ongoing fights (e.g. reviewing/critiquing each other's work). Your role is to understand this and stop it.
Creating the behaviour for a community is much less about the act of writing out your expectations of members and far more about determining what behaviour is acceptable by community members and influencing members to undertake that behaviour (whilst avoiding the real bad behaviour).