Editor’s note: This was contributed by Mikey Chee and Vladimir Garnele. Mikey is a WeChatpreneur based in Beijing. Founder of his own WeChat company, Fresh Prints, he also enjoys writing articles on ways businesses and people can use WeChat to grow their channels. Vladmir is UX-UI designer and partner at digital agency 31Ten. He manages and regularly participates in design-related WeChat groups.
WeChat group chat owners or those active in group chats may have stumbled upon a couple of articles stating the new rules to group chats (Chinese source). Effective October 8th, these new rules state the new management requirements. These new rules are very real and group chat owners will bear more responsibility in managing their groups and the content being shared.
What rules are we talking about?
- Sensitive Political Content
- Internal documents [of the Chinese Communist Party and government units]
- Content that is vulgar, pornographic, violent or shows drug-related criminal acts.
- News from Hong Kong and Macau that not been reported by official media outlets.
- Military information
- State secrets
- Videos from anonymous sources that insult or destroy the Chinese police’s reputation.
- Other illegal information
Given the current level of admin control allowed in WeChat groups chat, it’s very difficult for the above topics to be monitored effectively. Especially when groups exceed dozens of members. Plus there are already striking examples of WeChat group owners receiving penalties for unlawful conversation in their groups: insulting police officers, online petitioning, obscene content etc.
Today’s group chat management tools only allow an admin to kick a user for misbehavior. For us to manage properly, we need better tools.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of admin features we think would help group chat owners to properly manage and abide by the new regulations. If incorporated by Tencent, they would go a long way in enforcing new rules without any heads having to roll. Take a look below.
To keep things simple, we’ve tried to stay within the default WeChat user experience and Tencent’s general interface guidelines as much as possible.
1. Must haves!
As owners, we’re now on the hook for moderating all talk. However, the hardest part is controlling what members banter and send. Poster Ads, Unwanted XXX gifs, or xenophobic slurs really put a damper on group chats with a topic and drag down the perceived value of groups. There are some comments that do not belong in groups and ability to recall them as an admin would be so much useful for all eyes!
And since this is a potentially sensitive feature (it gives a lot of power to group admins who can end up acting like “little kings”), we believe
- Showing the name of the admin responsible for the deletion in the axed message’s bubble will introduce an element of scrutiny, making them more accountable to the group and censor judiciously
- Offering admins the opportunity to immediately share the reason (e.g. from a default list) for the recall could increase the legitimacy of the action, making it more acceptable for the community
Group Chat Welcome Message
When we join a Group chat today, we’re entered into the abyss. No notification or messages regarding the group chat’s theme are present on entry. The only way to know what’s going on is to either ask (thus awkwardly breaking the flow) or go to the group notice in the settings page. We all know very few people do this.
What would a group chat welcome message look like? We suggest displaying the group notice in a window overlay or as a top notification bar.
Let’s face it, monitoring a group chat is hard work. Between our daily work and other group chats, monitoring takes dedication and consistent reading. Good luck if you manage multiple groups.
To help out group chat owners, socialites, event organizers and more, we highly suggest allowing owners to elect moderators to alleviate the workload. With a SWAT team of such moderators, group chats can stay focused and on point, removing a lot of the fluff while still allowing group owners to live their lives.
What would this process look like? Since most small groups do not need moderation, (we all are in tons of 3-10 people groups), it’s probably best to add that as a feature not activated by default (same as verified invitations).
It could even be automatically activated when the group passes a threshold number of members (e.g. 20?).
2. Nice to have!
Owners can’t be expected to be constantly present excellent judgment at all times. When group chats get heavy into discussion, it’s hard for an admin to make the decision, or just to dedicate enough resources to maintain a constant watch. Allowing a group member to flag a message for review will help alert the admin when the chat conversation is getting off topic or becoming an issue for other users making them feel uncomfortable.
It’s a pain in the ass to have a one on one conversation with an individual that isn’t following the rules. If they weren’t added by you (the group owners), then it becomes even more challenging to explain why they are being warned or 1 step away from being kicked. We would love to see a feature where owners can send private pop-up warnings to individuals that aren’t behaving and that they are one step closer to being kicked.
3. Wish List
These last recommendations are far off from what WeChat would want to develop, but could make the group chat experience more fun!
Upvotes / Downvotes
If you’re a frequent user of Reddit or any social forum that has adopted the voting system, you’ll know that comments with downvotes are hidden from the mass public. The reason being that downvoted comments generally are of no use and provide useless information. But since group chats require chronological ordering, this feature could simply translate into a social approval or disapproval system, similar to Facebook likes, the upvote/downvote for YouTube videos or the Slack heart feature. Thus serving as a sort of quick real-time poll within the group chat window.
/votekick @[Troll nickname]
Video game enthusiasts or those around from the time of IRC might recognize writing commands with the / key. /votekick is an awesome way to generate an action and get the entire group involved. The /votekick allows the user to summon the admin to initiate a group vote kick. Kind of like 300 spartan scene where King Leonidas kicks the Persian guy down the well.
Sending an SOS to Tencent
I hope that someone gets our… I hope that someone gets our… I hope that someone gets our message in a (bottle) article.
With the new rules laid out by the government, it’s time for Tencent to develop better group admin features to help us regulate and monitor group chats. We’re hoping this message gets back to your team. WeChat and group chats play a pivotal role in our day to day lives. They play a central role for communities, business chatter and ways to stay connected with old and new friends. We hope we can see some of these changes added in the near future before the regulations catch up with a lot of owners that rely heavily on WeChat.
And you, what features would you like WeChat to add to groups? Let us know in the comments!