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Welcome to Group Ownership! We hope your time as a Group Owner is fun and fulfilling, and we thank you for volunteering.
5 steps for being a great Group Owner: PERRC (Participate, Educate, Redirect, Remind, and Collaborate)
1. Participate! This is the number one, most important step: Be an active participant in your group! Respond to threads and take part in the conversation, ask questions, start topics, and be kind. Your strong, visible presence and involvement helps members remember to post within the guidelines, even if the discussion is a debate or contentious.
2. Educate! Sometimes people simply don’t realize that they’re violating our guidelines. Be bold and link to the guidelines when necessary, either on the thread or in a private message (Pass a Note! aka PAN). Let them know that PANs, Reports, and Ignore Lists all contain private information and may not be shared with other members. Let them know they can use the Report This link at any time, and that reports to the GO's go to all the GO's.
3. Redirect! Sometimes a conversation is becoming heated but hasn't yet crossed any lines. Diffuse the situation by changing the subject or direction and helping members keep their posts within guidelines.
4. Remind! When necessary, speak up with authority and remind people that conversation is great and disagreements are normal, but it's not cool to launch personal attacks or harass another member because of a disagreement. Remind them to use Block, Ignore, and Report This as needed, and that the Golden Rule is excellent advice. Sometimes a clear reminder about internet safety and the hazards of revealing personal information (e.g., Facebook accounts, ultrasound images with patient name and location) is also prudent.
5. Collaborate! You're probably not the only Group Owner of your group, especially if it's a birth club. Your GO team is just that – a team. We strongly encourage you to create your own private GO group to work things out, share the load, and communicate, communicate, communicate with each other and your group. Make up games! Have fun!
Best practices using the above guidelines:
How to handle hot topics and debates
- You can pull threads back from the brink with a few simple actions before locking or deleting becomes necessary.
- Watch hot topics closely, even if you're not participating.
- Participate! Just being "in the room" can keep people's behavior within the guidelines.
- Post gentle and friendly reminders of the guidelines if the conversation starts to turn in the wrong direction. Redirection can often get a thread back on track before it fully derails.
- Delete comments that are violations but keep the thread open if possible.
- If necessary, lock the thread while you review it for violations. Before locking a thread, be sure to post on it why you're locking it and which guideline applies to the situation – and be sure to review and reopen it later. If a thread is so bad that it can't be reopened, consider deleting it to remove the problems.
- These kinds of threads will happen. Just try and keep them within the guidelines.
- Sometimes locking a thread temporarily is all that's needed for the members involved to walk away and calm down.
Effective ways to communicate by PAN (Pass a Note)
- Some members love to argue with you and just won't stop, no matter what you do. It's best to respond to them once or twice and then stop. It's okay to tell them nicely that you're not willing to debate the issue any more. Report if needed. If they object to your decisions as GO, ask them to share their concerns with the staff by emailing [email protected]
- In new Birth Clubs, it's often helpful to PAN new members who violate the guidelines with reminders of the guidelines. Many new members are not fully aware of the guidelines and simply need a little guidance.
- Don't respond to a PAN when you are angry. Wait until you've had a chance to calm down. Set a good example by replying with respect even if the PAN is rude.
- Sign PANs you send to the group members with "[Your name], Group Owner for [name of group]."
- Use short, direct notes that leave little room for argument.
- "Your thread was removed for violating [guideline X]."
- "Please edit your comment [insert comment]. It violates [guideline X]. It will be removed if not edited by [X time]."
- "Your comments on this thread are violations of [guideline X]. You've been asked before to refrain from [X]. It is not acceptable to continue to [X]. Continued behavior like this may lead to Community staff removing you from the group temporarily or permanently, and possibly even banning you from the site."
Threats of harm (suicide, abuse, etc.)
- It can be concerning and alarming when members post about suicide, domestic abuse or child abuse. Please report the situation to Community staff so we can monitor the situation.
- our site has a protocol that we follow in these cases, and if necessary we have ways of reaching out and offering help to the member.
- What can you do as a GO? You can post resources for the member. They can be found here: https://www.babycenter.com/community-help-resources. You can also monitor the thread to be sure the conversation stays supportive. It's up to you whether you feel the thread should be locked, but it doesn't have to be.
How to handle complaints about Group Owners
- Groups are allowed to question a GO’s locking or deleting decisions in order to learn more about your group rules and policy in a reasonable and respectful way. However, they cannot attack Group Owners any more than they can attack other members.
- Let grumpy or rude posts roll off your back. A cheerful and friendly reply in the face of a cranky member makes you look calm and in control and reasonable. Responding in kind...not so much.
- Be consistent.
- Listen to the member's concerns, responding as calmly, diplomatically, and honestly as you can. Everyone's POV deserves a respectful hearing even if you disagree with it.
- Let members complain or air grievances as long as they don't turn into personal attacks. Sometimes people just need to vent. There's no need to lock or delete threads in anticipation – sometimes the conflict gets resolved without intervention from you.
- Ask for help from your fellow Group Owner or a moderator if you're not sure how to handle a certain situation or feel you shouldn't.
- Remind members that they can report their concerns to our site or send an email to [email protected], but don't be defensive about it.
- Always post an explanation when you lock a thread and PAN the member when you delete a thread. This helps people better understand the guidelines.
Hot topics: Topics such as abortion and circumcision can be very touchy. Again, PERRC is a great resource when you're managing threads that are getting hot.
Nudity: In and of itself, nudity is not a violation. Only XXX (porn) is not allowed.
Illegal activity: Talking about illegal activity, such as pot smoking, is not a violation. However, it is a violation to sell or trade illegal substances, including prescription fertility drugs. Another violation: Seeking a child to adopt or seeking parents to adopt a child. (There are many adoption resources out there; our site is not one of them.)
"Complaints about GO's": Did you take an action that was justified but unpopular? It happens. Members questioning a GO's actions are not in violation of our guidelines, but name-calling or causing deliberate disruptions in retaliation is a violation. If someone asks why you closed a thread, answer them while preserving privacy. "There were personal attacks on that thread and we determined it was best to shut it down." Members are free to report to Staff any concerns they have with a Group Owner so that we can take a look.
What are Big Sisters?
Big Sisters are temporary helpers for Birth Clubs in the first trimester. Big Sisters are experienced Group Owners chosen by our site staff for their skills as welcoming and informative guides. They're here to assist members in learning how to navigate our site and understanding the Community Guidelines. They also enforce the guidelines when necessary.
Big Sisters are not a permanent part of your group. They can assist you in determining which qualities – such as such as leadership, fairness, presence, and personality – to look for when it's time to choose Group Owners from members of your group.
Still need help?
We're here! We don't expect you to become a slave to your computer and devote all your time to dealing with reports and documentation. When an issue arises, make sure it's reported to Staff, delete anything that's a violation and shouldn't be on the site, and refer to PERRC to prevent further problems. Then go back to having a good time!
Do come visit the Group Owners Group for more GO support, and if you need more input from Staff, use the Report This link and tell us all about it, or email us at [email protected]
Remember: Have fun!