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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

The Forum Moderator Dilemma

 4:03 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

How do you guys handle assigning moderators?

Our forums are on a negative health topic so a lot of our members are snarky, volatile, rude individuals.

Even when I pick a moderator, i get 10 PM's asking why I picked that person.

What's more frustrating is that the person is also just a user, so they participate daily in the discussions. They express opinions which may piss off other users, and may not be the opinions of me or my web site. Yet they are acting as representative of my web site because of the moderator title.

I tried setting up a unique moderator username they could log in as, and do moderator functions, but that did not work. Nobody wanted to log in as "not themselves" to moderate.

And what if they do or say something that puts the web site at risk of legal troubles?

Just wondering how you guys pick your moderators. I have had so many troubles with it.



 4:42 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Choosing a Moderator is one of the toughest challenges.

I'll start with this: In the fist instance, the individual should be a respected community participant. If they are not already respected there's going to be a problem there right away.


 5:03 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not going to be easy picking out a decent member to rein in the buttheads if a butthead culture is what you got. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to turn around the forum etiquette? Or do simply need someone to fight spam? If the latter then tell them it's a hands off policy on editing members, that their only job is to fight spam. Then change their title from moderator to something less authority-like, somewhere between caretaker and janitor.

If you want to reform their netiquette then good luck toilet training them. Many will bolt the forum and even start their own forum, although those rebel-forums often collapse under the weight of their infighting.

I choose my mods according to the quality of community participation they have demonstrated, first and foremost. Their knowledge level is secondary. I have no need for mods who are experts first and so-so members second.


 10:01 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

There's an excellent earlier thread somewhere in WebmasterWorld about what makes a good moderator. It was before my time and I --stop me if you've heard this one-- found it while looking for something else. But if anyone here is good at digging up old threads, go for it :)

One detail I remember: The people with high post counts :: cough-cough :: don't necessarily make the best moderators.


 12:08 am on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree that post count is not an accurate measure of quality.

However in my experience, It's a given that a mod candidate should be active on the forum. It's not a requirement, it's a given. A mod with a low post count is fairly useless.


 1:51 am on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

On boards where ordinary civility is iffy, any mod needs to be a leader by example and also thick skinned, with sufficient authority to can members for a timeout or to boot off the forum. Lacking that, you've got a cheerleader, great to improve some parts of the forum conversation, but insufficient to demand it. These potential moderators can be found, and will be found in their participation... but once given moderator status two things to observe, their effectiveness over at least a three month to one year period and/or see if "power" goes to their head making them even more obnoxious than the list members. There's a large difference between firm and heavy-handed.

What really needs be done is for the site owner to lay down simple and ordinary rules first. A notice posted on forum rules, a link in place to remind users of the rules so a mod doesn't burn out typing the same thing over and over... Truth is, however, once a forum gets out of hand, it is extremely difficult to regain control, and when that control is asserted, unruly members will desert, and some members will desert because of "freedom of speech".

That second part goes only so far.... on my forums I remind folks they are visiting My House of Topic and I don't allow pissing on the floor, swearing without good reason, or ad hominen attacks, ie. respect the House.

Decide what you want your forum to achieve, then build your members, and moderators, toward that goal.


 3:37 am on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

A notice posted on forum rules, a link in place to remind users of the rules so a mod doesn't burn out typing the same thing over and over

That enraged swearing you hear in the distance is incrediBill editorializing.

Here's one from 2006 that one of youse might remember:


And I think this thread from 2007 is the one I was originally trying to find:


The first half is about a specific problem but then it gets into more general advice, so I intentionally linked to the second page.

And now I know when the individual Forums started getting names instead of numbers :)


 6:02 am on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

This link works better [webmasterworld.com]for some reason. Thanks Lucy.


 11:09 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

For starters anybody that wants to be moderator is usually the last person I'll pick, that's not set in stone but I've found that most seeking to be moderator are the "power trip" type.

I usually try and find someone with the least volatile posts, long term member, some knowledge of the topic and they exhibit a medium amount of computer knowledge. I've had some people that would of made great moderators if they could figure out how to move a post. ;P

I don't necessarily put a great emphasis on post count because those with high posts counts usually achieved that through BS posts anyway. Post count is trumped by longevity especially if the those posts are very informative.


 8:22 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Haha, moderators, speak up: how were you chosen? :D


 1:00 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been asked by a few places, I only accepted one on phpbb.com. I would assume it's the "moderate" tone of my posts.


 2:05 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

And what is in it for the moderator? Any remuneration or other goodies?


 3:14 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

And what is in it for the moderator?

It relates to positive Community Citizenship. Many forum administrators do not understand the concept of Community Citizenship and their moderator choices reflect that.

Ideally, a moderator participates as a way of giving back to the community. The ideal moderator candidate is a member who has exhibited an appreciation for the community and wants to be an active participant in helping the community continue being a good place to visit. Those are the only people I choose, members who care about the community, promote the positive aspects of community citizenship and exhibit traits of wanting to help.


 1:09 am on Aug 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Any remuneration or other goodies?

Oh, you betcha. You generally get access to a Just For Moderators forum where you can yak about the non-moderators. And you can snoop into things like the post'er's IP addresses.

And, of course, you get the label Moderator* next to your name, which always gives your posts a little extra weight.

I only accepted one on phpbb.com

Gosh. You mean, not just some php/bb forum but THE php/bb itself? I am duly impressed ;)

* Unless it's superseded by a Custom Rank. So, on one forum, my rank is Crash Test Dummy. It means that whenever the administrator changes something, she calls on me to test-drive it.


 11:50 am on Aug 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

No framed certificates? Lame... :D


 2:31 am on Aug 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

And what is in it for the moderator? Any remuneration or other goodies?

Depends but on some of your larger forums there is going to be some goodies involved. For example, I've given my moderators free domain hosting as long as it's not really active site.


 5:50 am on Aug 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've given my moderators free domain hosting as long as it's not really active site.

I do something similar for my forum moderators and administrators; I'll pay for any domain name they want, along with full web, e-mail, ftp, etc. hosting.

Additionally, whenever we're selling site-branded merchandise the admins & mods get one for free.

Both are inexpensive ways to make the people I rely on to keep my forums running smoothly know that they're appreciated.

How do you guys handle assigning moderators?

I like to pick valued, long-term members of the community. People who are respected by the members they're being asked to help supervise. People who have demonstrated an ability to be adversarial without being personally disagreeable. Someone who can respond in a friendly and professionally way when challenged about anything, but especially when angrily told to [expletive deleted] off about something by a member or guest!

Those kinds of people aren't always available on-demand, so even if a new moderator isn't needed I'll still find a way to add one when the right kind of person comes along.


 3:06 am on Aug 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Gosh. You mean, not just some php/bb forum but THE php/bb itself? I am duly impressed ;)

To even impress you more I was offered a moderatorship on section of a "green" forum. :)


 7:33 am on Aug 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

A quick google search showed that some WW moderators list their office on their CVs; also nice one. I guess it depends on what kind of forum it is and to what extent it relates to your profession.


 4:01 pm on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

formulate the guidelines in choosing the mods
come up with a hierarchy before they reach the mod status
divide it accordingly (support, testers, officers, friends etc.)
assign key roles and responsibility
provide key performance indicators for each role
once achieved they can now be elevated.
indicators should be challenging and time consuming.

at the end of the day, you have a fair and square approach in choosing the mods

at least this is how i do it for my forums.


 4:39 pm on Dec 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's a really nice system, kind of removes a layer of subjective judgement from the process of choosing a mod and adds a more objective layer to it.

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