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Forum Moderators: rogerd
This is not my site but I help out a lot with it for a friend. The site makes money, the mod duties are very activie (normal mod interaction). It is a friendly site so no anomosity.
The friend states that the mod retention is sporadic averaging on 3-6 months. He feels that he maybe is asking too much with giving to little back. He was looking for what others do to help retain the mods via insentives.
-Give them freedom and do not micro manage them.
-Let the forum flow for a while and eyeball the members that seem to contribute the most, are smart, and already add value to your community, THEN ask THOSE guys if they want to be a mod.
-I suggest you dont try to attract new mods because u will end up attracting power hungry people and fools generally.
Another idea that occured to me was that since your forum is making money, maybe give them an offline (or online, even) subscription to a magazine (Wired, that new Make magizine, penthouse, lol).
Say it's a car forum and the mods are all car enthusiasts, maybe you can get them gift certificates to a detailing shop (I guess it would have to be available in all your mods areas, though).
I think most moderators do what they do because they enjoy it, you'll most likely never be able to pay them what they're worth and might end up offending some if you try. A little annual gift might mean more to them and save you money over trying to pay them cash.
Equally important is to listen to your mods when they have suggestions, let them know you are listening, and either act or explain your reasoning why not.
I also make sure they're the most informed - first to know about new features, site gossip, etc.
Keep them informed. Don't you hate it when stuff happens where you work that affects you and you had no say in the matter? So do they.
We send T-shirts, and I try to get promotional stuff from companies to pass along. Since we're a music site, I can convince record companies to give us CDs in exchange for some advertising.
The previous advice about not micromanaging and giving them freedom is healthy. Let them worry about your forums and you can take care of the rest of your site.