There are some users on a site I moderate that participate but I don't consider to be in the core user base.

How can I get them to care about how the site operates more? Whenever discussing something about the site's future/how to handle something, I get the same users discussing it. I like that some users have an opinion, but I would like to see some new faces. Maybe the other users don't see the discussion going on, but I'd like to make sure the community is strong by having more core users.

I don't have any control over the site's inner workings. I think that if this happened, our site would be much better. How can I encourage more users to be interested in the behind the scenes stuff to let the community flourish? I know not every user will be interested, but is there anything I can do?

2 Answers 2


I recommend a two-pronged approach:

  1. Choose the issues that are most important to get broader input on and publicize those in whatever general ways are available to you -- links in newsletters or blog posts, the Community Bulletin on Stack Exchange, "featured" lists/tags, etc. Asking people to dig through a pile of such discussions (like, say, by visiting a meta site on SE) might overwhelm some; pick some important items and ask people to look at those.

  2. Targeted invitations. Pay attention to your users as individuals. Is Joe really active in reviewing and closing questions? Ask Joe, specifically, to weigh in on guidelines for closing questions, which is being discussed at this link. Is Sue giving a lot of feedback via comments? Ask her for input on this discussion over here about how comments should be moderated. Does Lee care deeply about a particular topic that could fall on either side of the on-/off-topic line? Ask him if he would consider making a post to explain the nuances of the topic, as a way of educating other members in evaluating questions.

In my experience, broad calls for input or volunteers don't net a lot of response (but they net some, so don't ignore them), and people are much more likely to respond to individual requests for small-enough chunks of work that they can do.

And you'll know you're making real progress when you see 2A: other users asking specific other users for this kind of help. It's a community, after all; this can't come only from moderators.


To encourage community members to participate in meta issues, the following points can be helpful:

  • Convince your community members that they are the real owners of their community.

    As we know well, people usually do not consider themselves responsible for taking care of public spaces because they have not a sense of ownership to such spaces. Analogously, members of a community may lack a sense of responsibility if they feel that their community is not theirs.

    Thus, one effective way to motivate community members to be involved in meta issues is to convince them that they are the real owners of their community. This should be done in various forms, for example, by mentioning it in writing guidelines and casually talking about it in public places such as Meta or chat rooms; however, decent practical behavior of community managers (administrators & moderators) is the best and most effective way to persuade community members of the fact.
  • Be open to any opinion from anyone.

    You, as a community manager, should not expect your community members to refrain from expressing opinions you dislike. It may be harsh to you to be criticized by community members. However, if you want your community to flourish, you should encourage community members to criticize the community mainstream and norms; every rose has its thorn.

    When a community member expresses (and may insist on) some opinion you dislike, the worst decision in such a situation is to take disciplinary actions against the community member. If you want your community members to be interested in the future of your community, you should avoid taking such actions unless there is no way to rescue your community from collapsing.
  • Let community members themselves determine community norms.

    As you said, you have no control over your community inner workings; however, you, as a moderator, have a key role in establishing norms within your community.

    If you want to push your own decisions and policies most community members oppose, you cannot expect your community members to be interested in the future of your own community. If a community you moderate is really a "community for/by the community", you should let the community determines its norms. Even, if members of your community you moderate insist on some changes in the inner structure of the community, which may be out of your control, you should try to convince the community administrators of such changes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.