When managing a community, creating new community functionality or developing a social- or contribution-centric projects, avoid using words like allow and let (e.g. “we’ll allow people to upload their photos…” “we let users comment on articles…”)
Using words like these will negatively influence – or betray – your perception of the project, as well as giving a strong indication to everyone else (including the community) of user involvement: barely tolerated, and only made possible through your largesse.
Instead, think about using words like invite, empower and encourage, even in your internal emails and planning documents.
It may sound silly, but the right frame of mind can help you make good community decisions on a site, and the words you use even to think about it or describe it can influence your frame of mind. If you think about users as troublesome, bothersome, people doing a thing you’re graciously allowing them to do, then you’ll expect them to be pathetically grateful/need constant supervision or management/will want to break the rules.
Contrast that with a message that you’re inviting users to get involved, or encouraging them to share ideas and images. See how different it feels? Already, the kind of community management you’ll be thinking about might include curation, reward, conversation development, and so on.
So think about – and influence – your subconscious approach via the words that you choose to describe community participation. In other words: mind your (negative) language.