Most of the time, running a parenting Facebook group is a fun and rewarding job.
It’s nice to see forgotten teddies being reunited with their distraught owners, mums being encouraged to go to hospital after posting a photo of a worrying rash, others connecting with mums who have children with rare medical conditions, and even the more mundane things like people finally finding an amazing cleaner. Some of these posts may seem trivial or irrelevant to other people, but as parents we are all going through our own challenges, and it’s amazing that we have such a supportive group of local mums on the North Shore.
And then of course, once in a while, things go horribly wrong. A controversial post causes a big stir, and the virtual knives come out… sometimes at other members and sometimes at the admin team for attempting to moderate it.
Behind the scenes, there is a team of about ten local mums – the ‘admin team’ – discussing what is the best way to deal with the situation. We have a clear set of Group Guidelines, so sometimes it’s pretty clear what we need to do. But no post is the same, and some posts require a bit of a discussion (sometimes a debate, we don’t always agree!).
At the end of the day, we all want North Shore Mums to be a positive and supportive place for people to chat… to ask for recommendations, help or opinions, to share challenges, vents or an amusing story and to connect with other mums going through similar issues.
Yep, things can get VERY heated in the group, very quickly. Topics like circumcision, vaccination, ear-piercing infants, public vs. private schools and even Parents with Prams parking spots can quickly escalate.
We don’t have any topics that are ‘off limits’, but we know that some topics can quickly turn into disturbing attacking matches. Of course people are entitled to their own opinion, and sensible debate is never censored… but when people start to get personal and attacking other members of the group, that’s when we have to step in to moderate. Usually we try to delete individual comments. Often we try to delete comments relating to the abusive comment (just so the whole post makes sense). Sometimes it has just gone too far, and we just can’t sit there deleting nasty comments all night. So that’s when the post gets deleted.
Although sometimes entertaining (‘let’s get the popcorn!’), there comes a point where the nastiness has gone past the point of no return.
So this brings me to the next issue of bullying. We have a ZERO tolerance to bullies. Members who personally attack and belittle other members of the group will be removed from the group without warning. There really is no excuse for bullying. We wouldn’t knowingly stand for our children getting bullied in the school playground, so there is absolutely no excuse for grown women to attack other people for a different opinion. No, we don’t always warn people before we remove them. We did in the past, but given the nature of these individuals, we would cop nasty abuse back from them. So now we just remove them from the group, and the group is always better for it.
We receive complaints about posts being deleted, but we receive a lot more complaints about the ‘bitchy’ tone of the group – and that is not what we want the group to be.
At the end of the day, we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. I’ve come to the realisation that whatever decisions we make as an admin team, there is no way that every member is always going to agree. With 16,000 opinionated women, it just ain’t gonna happen!
‘But I’ve seen stuff NOT get deleted!’
There are ten local mums in the admin team but we are not online all the time. According to the latest stats, there are about 150 new posts every day, and each of these posts gets on average 20 comments. So we obviously cannot see every single comment that gets posted.
We love it when members use the ‘Report to Admin’ function (if you haven’t seen it, it’s in the drop down menu from the little arrow next to the post). This means the whole admin team gets a notification about the post, so we can easily take a look and decide the best course of action.
We want to be as consistent as we can, so if we miss anything, please alert us!
And finally… be nice!
Our number one guideline is ‘be nice, treat people as you would in the real world’. The admin team sometimes cops a lot of nasty comments at times. It is incredibly hurtful to see comments about you from people who have never met you, and really have no idea who you are.
Contrary to any ridiculous “North Shore” stereotypes, we are not pearl-wearing, Botox-filled ladies who lunch, drive luxury cars and live behind gated compounds. We don’t admin the group for any bizarre ‘power trip’. We are normal, everyday mums, juggling work and family. We also (mostly) enjoy managing a bustling online community of local mums.
Just like being a mum, it’s impossible to get things right all the times and please every member of your family. But we all have one thing in common. We are all mums trying to do the best we can, making a good life for our children and being good examples for the next generation. When women band together, support one another and build each other up, great things can happen.