The Golden Rule of Online Communities

When trying to determine what to do for your online community, ask yourself what you would do if the same thing happened off-line. Today while speaking at the Boomer Business Summit, we listened to a lot of people ask about managing their online communities. Some were large and others were small but they all had similar questions about how to handle various things happening in their community. One individual asked about highlighting individuals in the community and the rules about reposting their articles on the site.

To the person who asked about highlighting community members and their articles, the solution was simple: ask them for permission. After a series of questions I finally realized that if these people only asked themselves how they would handle a similar issue off of the internet they could easily find a solution. Those that explore online communication as some sort of foreign territory will fail at communicating effectively.

The reality is that the rules for success that apply online are the same ones that exist offline. The only difference is that online, things have become more transparent and your intentions will become more obvious. As Gary Vaynerchuk emphasized yesterday, good people will succeed in this digital world.

So to reiterate my point, when you come across an issue that you need a solution for, first ask yourself how you would handle this issue off line. The same rules apply. That’s the golden rule. Do you agree? Do you think things should be handled differently online?