Here are five key takeaway tips:
1. Keep a community team for the long-term
Many professional moderators are agency-based, said Geary, so the turn over of moderating staff at an organisation can be high. To really get the most out of a community, for both the reader and the outlet, moderators should be long term employees to best understand the community.
"A fulltime, long-term team can be a font of knowledge about participators on commenting platform." said Geary, "Not only can they identify them but they can help journalists interact with them better."
2. Be sensitive to the varying needs of different communities
If a publication has a diverse readership be sensitive to what their different needs and opinions may be, said Geary.
Using the example of court cases on the UK and US Guardian sites, she pointed out that a UK audience my find it crass and "in bad taste" to allow comments on crime stories, aside from the potential legal issues of doing so. But in the US that facility is expected for a news story which will gather a lot of public interest.
3. Don't make assumptions about audience interests
At the Huffington Post, Carla Buzasi was surprised when the community team investigated the readership crossover between different sections. They found that for regular readers of the entertainment section, politics was the second most-read part of the Huffington Post UK site.
"A large part of our audience is coming for both the high-brow and the low-brow content," said Buzasi, which was unexpected for some members of the editorial team.
4. Be active in engaging individuals from groups not already involved in the site
The Guardian is committed to building a diverse and open community around its journalism, Geary said, but added that "handing a platform over to an audience and allowing them freedom of speech is not necessarily going to create a diverse audience".
Some demographic research found that the average commenter on the Guardian was white, male and around 48 years old, so the communities team took a more pro-active approach in encouraging greater diversity.
Geary said they actively reached out to experts and leaders in certain fields and communities not already involved in the site and encouraged them to enter the conversation and share their opinion.
5. Listen to the community
All the speakers on the panel – which also included Stuart Forrest of Pistonheads, Jane King, editorial director of Farmers Weekly, and Tony Macklin of Immediate Media – agreed that listening to and learning from the community in every respect is integral to developing it further.