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Home / Forums Index / Help / Moderators Handbook

Moderators Handbook

WebmasterWorld.com

Working Draft Last update: Jan 06, 2014

  • Handbook Terminology
  • The Team
    • Position Descriptions
    • Lines of Authority
  • Moderator Commands
    • Overview
    • Editing a Title or Description
    • Moving a Post
    • Closing (locking) & Unclosing a Post
    • Editing any Message
    • Deleting a single Message
    • Deleting an Entire Thread
  • Charters
    • Overview
    • Editing a Charter
  • Marking a Post

Terminology:
Post or Thread: entire discussion of messages from the original message to the last response.
Forum or Sub-Board, each individual topic within WebmasterWorld (altavista forum, cloaking forum, etc).
Response: follow up messages to the original message.
Forum Index Page: the main entry page to a forum that lists the messages in the forum after clicking on the forum name from the home page.
UBB Codes: are the little html like codes one can insert in a post. See the Help link off top menu bar.
Admin/Moderator Menu: In the lower right of every post in your forum, is a link with the notation "Admin Options". Clicking on it will take you to a screen full of moderator options for that post.


The Team

Senior Administratorengine
Team Administratorsbakedjake, bill, Brett_Tabke, coopster, engine, incrediBill, jatar_k, phranque, rogerd

Position Descriptions

System Administrators

System Admins are moderators that have access to all system functions throughout the board. They help out when the owner of the system is not around watching for any red flags and generally protecting the integrity of the system. Their role is more of a technical nature than that of a user or moderator management nature.

Requirements for becoming a system administrator:

  • Must be in good reputable standing with the WebmasterWorld membership base.
  • A moderator for more than six months.
  • A user for more than nine months.
  • A minimum of 2000 public messages.

Moderators

Moderators are in charge of a particular forum. They are endowed with the ability to edit and delete posts. Topical expertise in the forum is not a requirement; however, we may "double up" moderators if someone with exemplary skills in an area is found.

Requirements for becoming a moderator: updated Oct 19,2000: current moderators are exempt from the following

  • Minimum of a senior level user. (currently at 300 posts).
  • An interest in becoming a moderator. Generally, we request that moderators seek the position.
  • Topical expertise is a plus, but not required.
  • Someone who accesses the system several times a week.

Team Lines of Authority

I believe strongly in the team concept. We are all volunteers here (thank you) and it presents some very unique management situations. Although I feel 99% of all team management issues that arise are best worked out with a what can I do attitude, there may be times when I or a system manager or administrator needs to make a final decision on an issue.

Much of what we do here is made up as we go along and there may be course corrections and decisions that affect moderator/administrator relations that need to be made. Our overall site management philosophy is always from an overriding what is best for the board over the long term point of view.

  • The system manager will have final authority on issues between moderators and users 1.
  • Issues between moderators should be worked out entirely between moderators 2.
  • Issues between moderators about a particular forum will first fall to the judgment of the moderator in the forum in question.
  • When issues between moderators and/or system administrators occurs, the system owner will make the final decision 3.

    1 It will not always be the case that SysAdmins will blindly agree with moderators on issues with users. (remember, we think of what is best for the board first).
    Obviously moderators will be backed up on issues with problem users without fail. However; there may be occasions where users are correct and a moderator is in the wrong position. When such a situation occurs, please use it as a learning experience and do not take is personal.
    Such a situation has occurred twice and it was handled so well that I think it is a rare exception.

    2 The best course of action is to respect other moderators requests when in their forum. When issues can't be resolved between moderators, the system owner alone will make a final ruling. It is hard to forsee this situation occurring - if it did, I would probably look for new moderators.

    3 On issues between moderators and system administrators, only the system owner will determine the course of action. It may surprise you to note, that this situation has already occurred. Generally, I stand by moderators almost more than anything else. I feel that moderators contribute so much to the board, that when it comes to their forum, they are the master of their domain.


Moderator Commands

As a moderator, you have access to commands not available to users in your forum. Moderator commands are located off the link in the lower right of every post in your forum with the notation "admin". Clicking on it will take you to the "Admin/Moderator Menu" for the current thread.

Editing a Title or Description

How to Edit a Title
On the "Admin Options" screen, is the option Edit Title & Description. Just click the radio button next to that option and press submit. A follow up screen will prompt for the new title and description for the post.
When to Edit a Title or Description
  • Any time the title does not reflect the content of the post. It should be descriptive of the post.
  • Anything with extremely vulgar or obscene language should be edited on the spot.
  • Anyone trying to play title games with weird characters. For example a recent one: "!!+++ ALTAVISTA +++!!".
  • Anyone doing a whole row of question marks or other characters "Altavista???????????!!!!!!!". Edit to something respectful.
  • All upper case titles should be made lower case with first character of words capitalized in standard title fashion.
  • When someone uses a really really bad title. These usually fall in the one word category "huh?" or "altavista?". Try to refrain from editing on a whim. Stale posts more than a couple weeks old without a new response are better game for editing.
  • Spelling? Use your best judgment on editing spelling errors. Sometimes people spell stuff wrong on purpose - those cases should be overlooked. Make sure to read the thread and check if the original poster may have mentioned something about the misspelling (especially in the keywords forum).

Moving Posts

Moving a post is the process of taking the post, including all messages in the thread, from one forum and transplanting it in another. Once moved, it will no longer show up on your forums entry page.

How to move a post:

Access the "admin menu" (again, the link in the lower right of a post). Click the radio checkbox next to "Move Post" and select the destination forum from the drop down menu. Double check that you have selected the right destination forum!
Remember, you can move a post OUT of your forum, but you can't move one back in.
When to move a post?
Anything that looks or sounds or maybe slanderous or libelous to the system, to another user, or to a referenced website. You can move the post into the Moderators Forum for admin review. Anything other posts that you think needs review by an admin before more users see the post can also be moved into the moderators forum.

Moving other posts, such as extremely off topic posts (eg: a post about Cloaking in the Foo forum should be moved to the cloaking forum). Keep in mind when you are moving a post that the original poster may have the post bookmarked. Probably a good idea to drop a note to the original poster that the post was moved and where to find it (StickyMail to the rescue) - Otherwise, the original poster may accuse or assume that we deleted the post.

Closing & Unclosing Posts

Closing or locking a post makes it so that no one can follow up to the post.
How to close a post:
On the "Admin Options" menu are the two options Close (lock) and Open (unlock) post. Just click the radio button next to that option and press submit.
When to close a post:
It is pretty rare when we lock down a post. There isn't a rule on doing so. It is usually reserved for things like official WebmasterWorld Postings (such as Official Forum Charters), or sometimes for flame oriented posts we don't want to see go any further. Generally, closing a post should be run by the admins for comment before doing so.

Editing Posts

It is a rare exception when a users post needs editing. Please remember we are dealing with people from all over the world, from all experience levels, and all points of view. I believe strongly in the freedom of speech and in respecting other peoples contributions to the board. Please be aware that all edits by moderators and administrators are fully logged. Our best defense against over eager editing, is over eager participation. We can do more with one post than editing a dozen threads. It is up to us to set the tone of the board.

How to edit a post:
In the forum that you moderate, click on "owner edit" of any post and edit just as if it were your message.

Unless it is a gross and obvious violation of the rules, please email the owner of the post and explain. Often on simple violations, it is easiest to include a brief note right in the thread - use it as an opportunity to follow up to their message or the thread.

Those types of brief notes in follow up posts, go a long way towards informing all of the users what is and isn't acceptable at WebmasterWorld. Be nice, in a non-condescending way as if the poster really didn't know it was unacceptable (be a teacher, not a police officer).

The worst thing you can do, is edit a post and then try to ignore the fact or cover it up. Editing without some acknowledgment to the original poster, is worse than not editing in the first place.

When to edit a post:
  • Obscene language that goes unfiltered by the swear word filter. Use your best judgment.
  • Obvious commercialized postings. "example: Try Me, Buy Me at www.junkworld.com".
  • Signature style urls. example:
  • Links to adult/obscene websites. (even mailto's)
Brett Tabke
http://www.searchengineworld.com

Should be edited to:
Brett Tabke
[edit]oops, sig file urls are frowned upon at WebmasterWorld[/edit]

Deleting A Message

Deleting a message or response removes it from the thread and slides all following response messages up 1.
How to delete a message:
Click on "owner edit" of the message you wish to delete in your forum. On the follow up edit screen is a checkbox below the edit window marked "delete post". Check the box and press submit.
When to delete a message:
See deleting a thread. Same guidelines apply.

Deleting A Thread

Deleting a post removes it and follow up messages in the thread from the system.
How to delete a post:
On the "Admin Options" menu is the option delete post. Just click the radio button next to that option and press submit.
When to delete a post:
Again, a rare exception when we delete posts. It must be something very egregiously inflammatory. If you find a post that you feel you want to delete, we prefer it if you use the "move post" option to move the post into the moderators forum for discussion before deleting. Posts with content such as extremely inflammatory, libelous, and/or slanderous are deleted. However, in the case of libelous or slanderous statements, please use the "move post" option to move it into the moderators forum - we need an original copy on file.

Administrative Commands and Functions

Since there is potential danger to the system involved, the following are not available to moderators and may or may not be available to all sysadmins.
I list them here for admin reference, and to inform moderators of what commands are available if the need arises.
  • Clone Post: Makes a perfect copy of the post for further editing.
  • Split Thread: Splits thread at chosen spot into two separate threads.
  • Splice Thread: Joins this thread onto the end of another thread.
  • Edit Post Details: Time, Poster, and order. Used for maintenance on broken threads.
    Between the above 4 options and the other moderator options, a post can be sliced and diced any way possible.

    Admin is at console with backup in hand commands:

  • Resurrect Thread: Attempt to rebuild thread from raw flat data file.
  • Restore Thread: Attempt to pull copy of thread out of recent backup file.
  • Fix Forum: runs Resurrect Thread on every data file found in forum.
  • Restore Forum: runs Restore Thread on the entire forum rolling it back to the last backup.
  • Rebuild search.dat for this forum. Rebuilds all active list entries for this forum. Search.dat is the basis of the Active list and of the search routine when "search headers only" is used.
  • Rebuild search.dat GLOBAL all forums (please have a backup in hand ;)

    Functions in beta testing at this time:

  • Make a two parter post. Splits a thread at a chosen message, puts a message from "system notice" at end of source thread that says "continued over here" and then builds new thread with a system notice as first message saying it is a "continuation of thread xyz".

Charters

A forum charter is a text file that is the Official Guide for topics covered in that forum.
Charters are located off the entry page for your forum near the top. Click on Charter to view the charter for the forum.

    The Charter should:
  • Describe the forum and the topic.
  • Point out any exceptions to normal WebmasterWorld message guidelines.
  • Address any potential problem before it arises in clear language.
  • A small repository for commonly asked questions in your forum.

Editing a Charter

After viewing a charter in your forum, you may edit the charter by clicking on the Admin Edit link in the lower right of the display. Then edit the charter just like a normal message. You may use the UBB codes as well.

Some charters are bare at this point and need creating or updating. After updating with any major changes, please drop me a note so that I may view it. Charters are the official system positions on each forum and we need to be in agreement with their content.

If you wish to include FAQ style information in your forum's charter, place the FAQ information near the bottom of the post and clearly mark that this is non-charter information.

From looking at logs, I am pleased that most new users check the charter for the forum before posting. They are more popular than I ever thought they'd be and I feel we need to raise their quality from my original postings.


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