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7 Rules for Managing Internet Discussions

The free and open discussion that the Internet provides is awesome. Sadly there are those who abuse the privilege of being able to participate in an on-line discussion. Internet bullying, hate speech, and incorrect information are all encouraged by unlimited anonymous posting. If you run a discussion forum don’t forget that you privately own it and control it—and to those that read it, it represents your company or organization. You have a right and a responsibility to moderate it. And keep it appropriate for your readers, customers, or fans. Here are seven guidelines to help you manage:

1. Eliminate anonymous posting. Everyone must identify who they are somehow. Require users to register with a valid email address. If someone is sharing “expert” advice—require them to provide references.

2. Never allow un-moderated comments. Remember the days of “letters to the editor”? Used to be that someone had to prepare a thoughtful response, respectfully submit it, and also sign their name to it.…