social media

Administering a Gated Community on Facebook

This is a bit of an update on my post about The Value of Curated Content on Facebook, which you should probably read first.

To recap, I’m the founder/creator of a Facebook group called Met Opera Live in HD Fans. It’s an international group of fans of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series which is transmitted live to over 2000 movie screens in over 70 countries. The Facebook group is public so anyone can read the posts and comments, but you must join the group to participate in the discussions.

Since my previous article from October of 2014, the group has tripled to nearly 7500 members. I’ve added 3 administrators for a total of 5. They help with a wide variety of tasks, especially membership.

We verify each new member. Why?

  1. Nearly eliminates SPAM.
  2. Helps keep content focused.
  3. Helps to identify any VIPs joining the group.

How do we do this?

  1. Facebook users wishing to join the group must do this themselves by visiting the group page and clicking on the “Join Group” button. We do not approve members who were added by someone else. We’ve had instances where a well-meaning friend added 20+ of their friends to the group. We did not approve them. 99% did not even like opera and I’m fairly certain they  would’ve been angry to start getting a fair number of opera posts in their Facebook feeds. The group has a high volume of activity especially around live transmission dates. It can be overwhelming even for people who love opera. When an unsuspecting soul has been added, they usually add to the high volume with posts like “How do I leave this group?” “Why am I here?” and other similar posts that compound the problem.
  2. We verify that they are a real person by examining their public Facebook profile. If the page is on the tightest security lockdown and we can’t see anything, we may likely deny membership. Sometimes they will request to join again and we will try to engage them in a private message conversation before admitting them. Here are some things we look for:
    • Does the name look legitimate?
    • Do they have a real picture on their profile?
    • Do they have friends?
    • When did they join Facebook?
  3. We verify that they are actually an opera fan by looking at their Facebook profile. We look for signs of opera and classical music in a few places.
    • Work – Are they a musician/performer/teacher?
    • Groups – Do they belong to other opera-related groups?
    • Likes – Do they like opera companies, composers, singers, etc?
    • Checkins – Have they checked in to a performing arts venue?
    • Public photos/posts/comments – Are they arts-related?
  4. Some signs that they are fake accounts/spammers/or trouble.
    • Majority of public posts are cause/political/military related.
    • No friends.
    • Joined Facebook recently.
    • Facebook name is suspicious.
    • Absence of a profile photo.
    • Belongs to more than 50 groups.
    • Belongs to many groups beginning with the letters “Met” that are completely unrelated.
    • Anything that looks suspicious.

As an admin group, we have looked at thousands upon thousands of profiles and get it right 99.9% of the time. When the rare spammer gets through the gates, they usually post right away, multiple times, and one of our admins removes it and bans them almost immediately.

Once we have determined that an applicant should be admitted, we send a private Facebook message that looks something like this:

“Welcome to the Met Opera Live in HD Facebook Group. Please read the “Pinned Post” at the top of the page and “Like” it once you’ve read it. I hope you enjoy our community! — Met Opera Live in HD Fans Admin Team

This is an imperfect system because many people do not see Message Requests from people they don’t know, so they miss this welcome message. We have started tagging them in comments attached to the pinned post so they will read it. This seems to be having a positive effect.

We need new members to read the pinned post to understand how the group operates and our community standards. This is what the current pinned post looks like:

Welcome Letter – Revised January 5, 2016
Please read this entire document and click “like” once you’ve done so. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Met Opera Live in HD Fans group. I highly recommend reading through a few days of posts to get a feel for the group before posting. The cultivation of this group has been a labor of love for many years. My hope is that you find a respectful, spirited, curious, knowledgeable, and interesting community.

Ann Caldwell Adair, Fearless Leader and Founder
Kathleen Crisp, Pastor S. Blake Duncan, Nigel Gallimore, Theresa McCarty, and Ariadne Sophia Auf Naxos (on leave)
We reserve the right to remove comments, posts, or members that are inappropriate.

– Be kind and respectful of other members and the Admins at all times.
– Comments and posts should be constructive.
– Include commentary with links and photos or risk removal.
– Duplicate and unrelated posts will be removed.
– Vulgar, political, sexual, and religious posts will be removed.
– Posts should be written in proper English.
– Problems? Message the Admin Team. We are very quick to respond.

Behavior that will result in removal and possibly banishment includes, but is not limited to:

– Repeated posting of unrelated or offensive material.
– Name-calling.
– Illegal activity.
– Inflammatory behavior.
– Deliberately picking a fight.

Please check out the events tab for the current HD transmissions and other events.

– If you like to play-by-play opera conversations, you will want to check out the new group Sirius Opera Fans at

This pinned post is extremely helpful with maintaining community standards and making determinations when a post or user must be removed.

Another huge help with all of this is our Secret Admins Facebook Group. It has been an invaluable tool in being able to discuss problems, train new admins, maintain a unified front (like parents!), and keeping an informal record of repeat offenders.

The end result of all of this work is to have an active, content-rich community that adds to people’s lives in a positive way.

I think our members would agree that we’ve succeeded.