Forum Moderation Guide: Moderation Approach: Rules of Engagement

Forum Moderation Guide: Moderation Approach: Rules of Engagement

Even though Microsoft forums are an open community, it is necessary to have a set of ground rules, known as rules of engagement. The following rules help to frame the context of how to be an effective moderator:

  • Do have fun – Even though being a moderator is an important responsibility, it should be a fun and exciting experience.
  • Don't share confidential information –Most forums are public and are open to posters worldwide. Do not share internal e-mails, non-public information, or any partner or Microsoft internal/confidential information.
  • Avoid responding with anger – Focus on correcting misinformation in a neutral way. If you are feeling angry or defensive about a post (which is very natural for most people), wait before posting. This will allow a “cool-off” period that enables you to reread the post before sending to make sure it doesn't convey anger.
  • Don’t take issues personally –The nicest people can respond with terse posts. Any poster can forget that a real person is on the other end of the message. As a moderator, you need to moderate posts that direct blame or are unprofessional in nature, but posts can become personal.
  • Accuracy is important – All moderators, whether an employee of Microsoft or not, are perceived as official responses. It is very important to ensure that everything you post in any forum is factual and correct. If you are not sure, don’t post.
  • Use correct grammar and spelling – Too often forums are seen by users as no more than Instant Message (IM) chats, so they often use poor grammar, spelling, and capitalization. This is not acceptable for a moderator. While we don’t want to correct grammar and spelling of other posters, we do want to make sure that our own posts are worded well, are clear, and do not have spelling mistakes.
  • Be aware of perception – A seemingly simple post or response can create a firestorm of trouble for the Public Relations (PR) and/or Legal teams. Make sure you are aware of how your post can be perceived by the public before posting.
  • Do not post your email address – Because this is a public forum, you don’t want to post your email address. Depending on the circumstance, you may want to ask other public posters to consider not publishing their email address as well, but do not prevent this if they want their email address displayed in a forum.
  • Do not compare competitive products – Competitive product analysis is a through and rigorous process that requires proper vetting of data. Therefore, unless a Product Group does an explicit comparison with competing products, do not engage in such discussions. If a Product Group makes such comparisons available publicly, it is acceptable to link to that resource.
  • Do communicate in your own voice – A Microsoft forum is very much a gathering place for community as it is for technical discussions. As such, you are a valuable member of the community and are independent.
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