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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement

LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement
Have you given thought to your LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement? It's an important question, and yet one that many group owners, managers and moderators haven't addressed.

Recently, Tricia Pompo from Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, Inc. - whom I got to meet in person at Coverings - emailed me about LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules.  Here is her message: 

Christine,

I wonder if I can pick your brain a little? In your presentation and in our conversations you’ve said that “rules” should be created for those of us that have a group on Linkedin. For the life of me, I cannot find any examples! Is it just that not too many groups are actually making rules, or are they hiding somewhere in their page where I cannot see them? I looked under all the groups of which we are members and there aren’t any. Can you send me an example?

Thanks so much.

My model for LinkedIn Group moderation, interaction and guidelines is HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which has successfully grown a LinkedIn Group to over 40,000 members by nurturing interaction, carefully moderating and consistently communicating its guidelines. [For more perspective, read my post HIMSS, Social Media & Heathcare IT Community.]

When I read Tricia's email, I immediately went to the HIMSS group and found their guidelines. But, then I became curious and decided to check out more of the groups I belong to in search of LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules. And I had difficulty!

Many LinkedIn Groups aren't that vibrant and others, too self-promotional. The ones that shine are ones where the group owner actively moderates, invites conversation and encourages the sharing of true value with members.

Regardless, I expected to trip over more examples of LinkedIn Group Rules and Guidelines to share with Tricia.

What has been your experience? Which LinkedIn Groups do you consider most vibrant and what are their guidelines? How are those guidelines and rules of engagement communicated?

Here are two examples:

Lead Change LinkedIn Group:

The purpose of this group is to connect and discuss character-based leadership. You will notice that self-promotion is generally ignored. People in this community connect and share openly about leadership, but if all you do is talk about yourself, people will lose interest quickly. Promoting other groups or services that don't have to do with leadership development will cause us to move your discussions to the Promotions area, or ban you altogether.

HIMSS Group Rules of Engagement

Please read the following rules of engagement before posting. They are designed to ensure the HIMSS Group remains professional, vibrant, and useful for all group members. Since there are gray areas for such rules, HIMSS Group moderators reserve the right to interpret the rules of engagement so the group can successfully lead change in the health IT and management systems field through knowledge sharing and communications. Although, HIMSS staff moderates the group, members are encouraged to help the moderators in this process by reading and following the Rules of Engagement, flagging inappropriate content and inform a moderator of spam and inappropriate content.

RULE #1: All discussions and shared links must clearly relate to the health IT and management systems field.

RULE # 2: Discussions should advance the professional development of health IT and management systems professionals.

RULE #3: Discussions must clearly invite member response and participation. When posting discussions or sharing links, pose questions to garner quality conversations.

RULE #4: Discussion items must be self-contained. While articles, blogs or other reputable health IT and management systems sources may support a good discussion, these resources cannot substitute a discussion.

RULE #5: Be professional, kind, polite and respectful of other members.

RULE #6: Promotions of products and services (even when free) are not allowed.

RULE #7: Job posts are not allowed. This includes messages that advertise job opportunities; recruit candidates; feature resumes and applications, or that self-promote one’s availability for positions. If you are in the process of seeking a new position or looking to hire a new candidate, visit HIMSS JobMine at http://www.himss.org/jobmine.

RULE #8: Spam messages and postings are prohibited. Spam includes:
• Sending multiple unsolicited messages to group members. Substantiated complaints will result in the spammer being removed and blocked from the group.
• Posting the same discussion repeatedly in order to promote a product, service or company.
• Posting commercial comments in discussions when such comments have nothing to do with the discussion.
• Posting comments in one’s own discussion for the sole purpose of making it go to the top of discussions.

RULE #9: General invitations to connect are not allowed in the discussions forum.

RULE #10: BREAKING THESE RULES OR ANY OF LINKEDIN TERMS OF USE MAY LEAD TO MEMBER REMOVAL. Members who break the HIMSS Group Rules of Engagement or the LinkedIn Users Agreement, may receive a reminder or may be removed and/or blocked without additional notice.

Thanks, Tricia, for the question.

For those of you with LinkedIn Group Guidelines and Rules experience, what would you add to these examples? What other examples have you come across?

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