Moderation also plays a big part in shaping a community’s voice. Large communities like Reddit or Hacker News possess an array of moderation tools, from flagging a post to lower its place in the rankings, to banning users altogether.

All In Moderation

So it’s up to you to highlight the type of content you want to see more of, and downplay (or outright remove) items that don’t match your vision, and generally speaking you shouldn’t be too shy about laying down the law. As much as we’d like them to be, online communities are not democracies: not every voice is equal, and not everybody deserves to be part of them.

We are always actively shaping the community through both positive (rewards) or negative (banning, etc.) actions.

Kelly Sutton, Designer News

These issues usually become more salient as your community grows, but it pays to be mindful of them from the start.

As long as you stay polite and do your best to be transparent with your decisions, the majority of members will appreciate your efforts to steer the ship.

We’ve had to be pretty decisive about setting the right culture. For example, sexism is rampant in tech and this is also a very tech-enabled community. So we’ve had multiple occasions where we’ve had to tell people to behave or leave. I don’t like doing that but that’s what happens when it becomes bigger.

Pieter Levels, #Nomads

Exclusive Communities

Another common strategy is to simply restrict access to your community in some way.

Given most startups’ obsession with growth at all cost, one might reasonably wonder why you’d ever want to restrict sign-ups to your community. But it turns out there are a lot of good reasons to do so.

After all, it’s the oldest trick in the book: limit supply to drive up demand. If it works for diamonds, maybe it can work for you? Share your work here to get a chance to share your work on Dribbble.

Exclusivity alone probably won’t be enough to make your community successful, but exclusivity combined with actual value can work wonders though.

Dribbble has always been an invite-only site, and its invites are so sought-after that people hold contests to win them and have even set up entire parallel communities dedicated to getting invited.

Quality Control

There’s also cases where restricting access is necessary just to maintain a reasonable level of quality. Some communities tend to attract vocal minorities, and things can quickly get out of hand.

So in many cases, it might be easier to close down access and approve suitable users individually, than open up the floodgates and hunt down offenders.

From, I learned that when you have a popular platform people will join to abuse your platform for personal gain, or just do things to make the experience worse for everybody. Learning from that experience, we decided to have a moderated website like Reddit. The moderation helps avoid spam and ensures we only have quality music on the site.

Justin Kan, The Drop a very active – if a bit unruly – community.

Setting An Example

Exclusivity has other advantages, especially in the first months of your community. Newer users tend to model their behavior after current members, so by filtering sign-ups you can make sure your initial batch of users sets the right tone for your community.

By keeping things invite only, we were able to cultivate the personality of the site before bringing in the masses. I believe that if you have a high-quality community, growth will come naturally.

Kelly Sutton, Designer News

So unless your audience is very narrow to begin with, limiting registrations is worth considering. Hopefully, the sign-ups you forfeit in the beginning will be offset by increased attention down the road thanks to your community’s higher quality.


  • If your community is already exclusive, set up a contest to win some invites.
  • If it isn’t, close registration down for a few days to see how people react.