Discussions, also called Feeds, can be a dynamic part of your community. Here are some tips to get them running well.
The biggest single piece of advice? Don't expect the same thing out of your Discussions crowd as you do out of your wiki's editors.
The Discussions area is mainly about having fun. Most people who use Discussions are not wiki editors. They arrive on mobile web and through the Fandom app. They're also likely to be more casual fans of your wiki's topic.
So run Discussions differently than you do the wiki proper.
Get people talking
Not surprisingly, Discussions are all about generating conversation. Since you'll want users to return often and have lots of fun, focus on giving them positive reasons to come back every day.
It's vital they see great discussions the first time they arrive. So always make sure you like what you see in the first few posts that are visible on any given day.
Lead by example. Post regularly yourself. The more often you contribute something interesting, the more others will, as well.
Importantly, you should always be experimenting with different topics, times of posting, posting length and other variables to find out what resonates the most with your users.
Consider posting things like these:
- Topics you know other fans will want to talk about. News about your fandom, fan theories, controversial plot twists, speculations, game tips, in-game curiosities discovered — they're all excellent things to post about.
- Regular topics or activities. For example, you can make Friday trivia day where you post a quiz related to your fandom.
- Polls. People love voting. Just make sure that you're asking an interesting question, rather than one that always appears in your fandom. Just remember: you only get seven choices in Discussions polls.
- Questions, not statements. By prompting users to give their thoughts on a topic, rather than posting a fact, you’ll invite more responses. For example, rather than posting "I just saw the latest episode and can’t wait for the next one", ask, "What did you think of that cliffhanger?"
- News about the topic. People like new information. It sparks analysis, commentary, and speculation which can lead to more interest in other issues around the topic. Also, being news, it should be fresh compared to many other things which may have been discussed to death.
- Images and videos. People just respond better when there's something cool to look at. So try to put a picture or video on every post you make.
- Fan art. Even if your wiki doesn't allow fanon, consider allowing at least still fan art in Discussions. It's very popular and can get people talking.
- Replies and upvotes. Just as you’d like others to appreciate good content, give upvotes to the kinds of posts you’d like to see more of and keep conversations going by adding responses yourself.
If your wiki covers a topic with several different parts — such as a video game with several installments, or a franchise with both a filmed title and a comic series — you may want to set up categories for the Discussions. Since these categories act as a way to filter posts, they're often called that, too.
Remember this about categories:
- Feeds are personal. By default, all messages from all categories are compiled into a single feed. But users can filter by category to see as much — or as little — of the whole as they want. That means that different users can have very different experiences of your Discussions area.
- Keep categories wide open. The maximum number of categories you can set up is ten. But use fewer, if possible. A few, broad categories is better than several specific ones. A category called "Merchandise" is better than one called "1970s actions figures".
- The "General" category. Your wiki's default Discussions category is called "General" and it can't be deleted or renamed. If you choose to use only one category for your community, all posts automatically use "General".
- Categories aren't forever. Adapt your categories to suit the way the conversation is actually flowing. And don't be afraid to retire category names that have proven unpopular.
- Short names are best. A category name must be 20 characters or fewer, and it should be obvious to users what kinds of posts they can expect there. Fewer than 20 characters are actually displayed, however, so check your category names on a phone to make sure they display properly.
- Categories help with spoilers. If the wiki proper has strict policies about spoilers, consider starting a category called "Spoilers" and ask the gang to post there. That way, people trying to avoid spoilers can turn that category off, and they'll probably be okay.
Moderate ... moderately
The best way to moderate is to do what we've already been talking about. If you lead by example and use Discussions yourself, you probably won't have to do much "negative moderation", like deleting posts and blocking users. In fact, it's important that you do actually visit Discussions regularly, since Discussions posts don't show in Recent Changes.
You should also be aware that there are special admin and moderator tools for Discussions, and that individual users can report particular posts for you to look at.
But like we said at the very top of this article, Discussions users are probably unfamiliar with the rules you've established for wiki editors. And that's okay!
Value honest, well-meaning participation over compliance with all your local rules. Understand that deleting someone's post can make them feel unwelcome. And remember that if your Discussions have enough velocity, mistakes don't need to be deleted. They'll just be carried swiftly downstream and out of sight.
Do take action when a post contains:
- Hate speech
- Personal information about another user
- Personal attacks upon another user
- Mostly or entirely gibberish
- Obvious advertising
Don't worry so much about: Depending on what you say in your guidelines...
- Off-topic posts
- The same question being asked multiple times
Customize your guidelines
While a relaxed, easygoing moderation style works best for Discussions, having your wiki's Discussions-specific guidelines written down is important.
After all, it's your best chance of educating Discussions-only users about the things that are important to your community.
But keep in mind:
- Discussions is a different county. Don't just copy your wiki's rules into your Discussions guidelines. There are bound to be some rules that apply to your wiki editors which don't work for Discussions, and vice versa.
- Keep them short. Most people will read the guidelines on a phone, so brevity is key.
- Guidelines should assume nothing. Many people discover your wiki through Discussions. So make sure your Discussions guidelines are able to be completely understood without referencing the wiki's rules.
Find some friends to help you moderate Discussions. It'll just make your life easier. When looking for moderator candidates:
- Promote from within. You might as well promote active, responsible Discussions users. They're already in the habit of checking in regularly.
- Know that good Discussions mods don't have to be editors. Remember, Discussions is a mobile-forward space. It's completely expected that people who use it will be mostly using their phones. And not many people edit wikis from their phones. Some of the best Discussions mods have zero wiki edits. However, many active wiki editors are more knowledgeable about the wiki topic, so it can be an advantage.