Before diving deeper into the structures and methods involved in creating good online communities, I thought it best to highlight an important and recurring theme across community management websites.

The 24 hour rule states that any comment left by a member during a community discussion should be  replied to within 24 hours of initial posting.

Ideally the comment would be replied to by another member of the community as part of a rich and flourishing discussion. This, however, isn’t usually the case, especially in the early days of a community.

In the early days, there is a lack of commitment to your community. Members are still assessing whether or not this is something that they want to be a part of. They are conducting profit/loss sums in their head to work out if this is the place for them.

This is why the 24 hour rule is so crucial to a successful community.

You need to show members that this is a place where their effort will be listened to. Members need to see that your community is a bustling, busy and engaging place that they want to be part of.

Ignoring the 24 hour rule is a hallmark of companies with failed communities. They haven’t invested enough resources into ensuring that contributions are valued. Instead they have a forum ghost town with long lists of unanswered member posts.

Ensuring the 24 hour rule is adhered to is a key responsibility of the community manager. If a comment is left in the community and no-one has replied to it, then a good community manager will leave a reply.

As a community grows you can furnish experienced members with the responsibility of upholding the 24 hour rule.