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How do you manage moderators on big boards

make them more helpfull for the community, less energy consuming for admins

3:53 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


we run a community board, that curently have around 2K posts a day, which is still not huge, but enough to need 15 voluntary moderators.

I don't know if it is due to our non technical thema, or the nature of women, (i'd appreciate you tell me!), but you know managing moderators is crazy time and energy consuming.

I have the impression that Whatever you do, whatever the rules, enhancements to your mod system, if you don't manage them hard, the moderators private forums will always keep a natural tendance to become a mess, a gossip pit instead of the productive environment you tend to. Off course you can reduce that phenomenon, make it possible for you not to be here one week without a major issue happening in the staff.

As admins, we always want our forum to have more interrest, more content, more members, more traffic, and we don't give a sh*t who sleeps with who, who like or dislike who etc...If we want to overcome and grow, our forum has not to be ruled by feelings, but by a fair and square justice.
Unfortunately the whole moderators will always tend to behave exactly the contrary!

So we often try to optimise that, make them more helpfull for the community, less time and energy consuming for us.
After some years of daily experience and enhancements here is what we have now :

- precise and basic rules, the more simple, natural and intuitive we could make.
- Only rules breaking can be punished.
- No prevention, users are warn in "linked on every page" rules they break a rule they get directly banned.
- A banned user can ask to be unbanned by email. If the whole staff finds it is ok, the user get unbanned a certain time after. That one perfectly prevent the "big
poster banned buddies wanna make a revolution" issue.
- a precise protocol telling mods how they must communicate. When they find someone break the rules, they have to open a topic to report it, mentioning
precisely the broken rule. It is only after 2 or 3 others give their vision of the situation that user gets banned...or not! Except for very common cases,
where moderator do not have to wait for others validation, but still he must report it in a topic.
- Zero private message mod to mod, and mod to member policy. Every thing that has to be told has to be told loud. Mods can off course PM members, but never
for moderator issues.
- Through other private forums, moderator get focused on projects and contributions, rather than playing the cops or gossip.
- Through a topic Forum members are honnestly briefed on what it takes to be a mod, we do not try to seduce them.
- Every mod action is logged, and every mod has access to it.
- Even the slightly mod action made outside of these rules can cause a mod to be demoded.
- Mods must pause when they feel it is necessary, or we feel it is. A 2 week pause can calm down passions, give a better viewpoint, have great effects on motivation and creativity.

With all this (and some others), we have lot more productive mods, good mood inside the staff. We use to keep some mods more than a year, and we stay in good terms with most of them. From time to time, one of them become crazy, get demoded, and then will spread #*$! about us to all of his contacts.

We are quite satisfied, even if it is never a won battle, even if some bad days, we can think about fire everybody, and hire a professional moderator...sleep better, go to holidays, rediscover quietness. But would we?

What about you?
What do you think?
Does it sound familiar to you?
What are your problems? your tips?

3:09 pm on Nov 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I made the mistake of making my friends from real life mods when i started up the forum; they've now lost interest and rarely visit, but would probably resent being asked to step down to make place for new mods which i know would do a much better job. So far this hasn't been a problem because the site has about 500 members and I can visit frequently enough to keep things in check myself. But I can anticipate a situation arising where i need more mod participation, and this might mean replacing my friends with people off the boards.

Being a team leader often involves managing the internal politics of the team effectively

4:16 pm on Nov 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hey bradley phil, i ve been facing this kind of situation a couple of times. :)
Firing friends or buddies from a moderator team can be very embarrasting, you will always get at least one person taking it very bad, report his energy on gossips, or even trying to make a public drama of it.

When you feel it's time, what you can do instead is a call for help with community projects. You do it first inside your team, then if you don't get helped enough, you don't even blame nobody, you just tell your team something like "ok, i think we will need some extra hands to move it" or anything to convince your actual moderators that extra help in the team will be a good thing...

Then, when new moderators enter your team, become more challenging with your team, regularly ask for help, ideas, article, constructive stuffs, manage projects for community.

In a certain time, You will get 2 clans : moderators that truely try to help when they can VS moderators that do nothing or always have a good excuse.
And people that give their skills and energy are never OK with people that do nothing inside their team...
When it comes to that point, the job is almost done!

You just have to be fair and square, asking and asking again help from those mods the team doesn't see, and when the fact somebody never helps becomes obvious, enourmous for the whole team, open a topic and just tell "well, fooman, it's 4 months the team haven't seen you participate in any of our projects, won't you feel more free to become a simple member? If not, what is motivating you in being a moderator here?"

3:43 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Rereading my story and thinking about it i realise that it could be seen as "bad karma" or something.
But hell, doesn't anybody has story to tell, tips, links or anything, at least in the name of pain relief lol?
4:07 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't know if it is due to our non technical thema, or the nature of women, (i'd appreciate you tell me!), but you know managing moderators is crazy time and energy consuming.

Ah, women - there's the beginning of the problem. I generally don't like women very much. ;)

Seriously though, I don't think the behaviors you're describing are confined to just women, but women can be very touchy about "other women" - it's basic to the natural, very real mother/daughter antipathy that has to be overcome in real life family situations.

The unfair "division of labor" is also very common in real world companies - especially among clerical personnel (mostly women) and it always creates undertones of friction and resentment.

I don't think "rules" would do much, especially being given to women who probably already have a sense of "ownership" from the natural bonding instincts that women have - and particularly from another woman. That's back to the mother-daughter thing - very few women can be hard-boiled, let's stick to business and those who aren't don't really understand others who are - they're too much like "mother."

If they're mostly doing nothing and just turning the mods forum into a hen party that's nothing more than a gossip session, how about renaming that forum "Mods Hen Party" - (gentle enough hint, huh?) - and set up a brand new forum that's strictly for forum business issues related to operations and member issues. Then, one forum at a time with the ones with mods who do nothing but socialize, collect "orphaned" posts with no replies and ones that really need attention, and post a thread with links asking for attention. See what happens with that, and take it from there.

Just an example of the type of indirect but obvious action that can send a message without actually saying anything to anyone specific.

12:27 am on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Marcia, you seem to be aficionado with the women question : )

As you describe, in most women decisions there is so much of the hen, sometimes the mama hen, sometimes the furious hen...hen inside!
Most of them -and this isn't a grade or education or maturity issue we have average 25/35 year old moderators, managers as well as home women -just have a very big tendance to mix feelings with objectivity, and a huge trouble, let s say it sometimes an enormous bad faith to separate the real and undubitable facts from their so very very personal feelings.

Give them a community, they will be slowly sliding to what i would call the "baby kitten" policy.
Ban and help people based on their intimate impressions which off course are all differents but have main similarities. ho, and off course differences of behavior will create rivalities inside the team that will clash!

Give women the power they say! But lol have they experienced it?

After strugling and strugling with it, trying to explain, to give simple ways, to moderate!...they are hard boiled! They are women!

We finaly found out that the only way was to give them a "hen proof" environement (if we can tell so). Through all the rules we have progressively set up, we have succeeded in minimising a lot the phenomenon.

they just can not take decisions based on feelings anymore. "feelings outside, where you want, but not inside the mod team."

That works, they seem to like it because it is challenging them.
But in a week, there will always be something that is done neglecting the fair and square rules, more or less conciously, and approved by the whole team. The Little Red Riding Hood, or the ugly wolf coming back perpetuously. They just can't help! It is stronger than them!

I taught about your "mod hen party" idea.
Off course trying to make abstraction of the rude but true title : ))...
I think that would encourage them in this behavior, they already do it perfectly, naturaly in private, where they want, but not inside the mod team.
Plus we are fighting for they tell in public forums what has to be told there, not in moderator forums.

We are currently hiring men in the team. In this team men are a relief! They are so simple, and square!
But some of them will get live trying to play the cock or the white knight!

Please if you feel offended with that post, don't take it too personaly, i don't really think what i am writin, i just collaborate with women 365/24/7 and i love and respect them, but sometimes it feels good to just express these kind of sarcasms and let them out! Thanks.

1:05 am on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>We are currently hiring men in the team.

You're hiring and paying men from outside the community? Are any of your women team members also being paid, or are those all unpaid volunteers?

1:31 am on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>>We are currently hiring men in the team.
You're hiring and paying men from outside the community? Are any of your women team members also being paid, or are those all unpaid volunteers?

Would you be interrested? For a job that consists in just being yourself and ease women?
What a perfect job!

Well, i m sorry for people who could have thought a second that i was offering such a dream, who could have been desapointed by my quite poor and unprecise english.
In fact sorry but this is only volunteer helpers inside the community.

So please help me improve, go, just tell me what is the verb for hire when it is voluntary. Thanks. :)

BTW Some guys from my mod team has been very fine at this game! They has been perfect as moderators, and flirted with a lot of women!


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