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pros and cons of letting forum members moderate for themselves?

self-moderation

     
11:37 am on Jun 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi there

I am a very new member - so thank you in advance for indulging me! I apologise if this is an issue you've all covered before but...

I run a parenting website which has a forum (it runs on phpBB). There's small core of highly committed members, and they've known each other for years. I am the sole moderator with lots of other responsibilities in the company I work for, and so I only get to look into the forum about once a day, and that only on weekdays - so quite often I'm not on the spot when something goes wrong. Members have asked that some of them be give some moderation powers - they particularly want to be able to ban or disable other users!

I'm in two minds - the members tend to fall into cliques and I'm worried about stirring up divisiveness. On the other hand, members are right to be feeling they could do with more moderation. Any experiences out there that might shed light?

11:43 am on June 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi Reneem,
Welcome to Webmasterworld.

How much abuse has there been and is it serious enough to warrant adding mods?
You indicate that you have reservations about adding mods to your site. Since it is your site, I would trust those feelings.

11:48 am on June 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the response...

Because it's a parenting forum, the issues discussed are often emotional - members tend to fall into habit patterns of old fights, if you know what I mean. And there are a couple who genuinely stir things up when there is no cause to. And a couple of seriously loopy ones who I suspect are registering under different usernames and then arguing with themselves! So the problem is there is no easily identifiable, black-and-white, ban-them abuse. Just unpleasantness. I guess this is why I don't want to go the route of self-moderation - but was wondering how other people had found it to work.

12:29 pm on June 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I oversee a forum that high school age teenagers use. In general they are a great bunch of kids. I allow the older kids to moderate. They are moderation rules in place and a system for feedback about the moderation.

Forums only work if they are open and on topic.

1:31 pm on June 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I feel that a good moderator is like gold, my fairly new forum now has 2 of them (the first 2 did not work out). Don't pick the ones that volunteer "out of the blue", they usually have a personal issue that will get in the way of proper moderation. Instead, in a subtle way, ask your members to "vote". Not an actual poll, but a frank post stating that the site is looking for moderators and asking for input as to who would make a good moderator. Then wait and see what happens.

My first 2 moderators suddenly left and one was even banned as a member. Imagine having to explain that to your other members when they start begging for answers. The 2 "voted in" replacements have been much better choices. One is opinionated but very admired by others and the other is very matter-of-fact and tends to stay in the shadows. It's a great combination, and, much better than the disaster that happened when I chose moderators because they were eager to do the job.

I better summarize... if you want your forum to be successful, it will require more than a peek at it each weekday. If you don't have time, find the right person who does.

10:43 pm on June 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Do you have time to train the moderators properly, and are you willing to pull them up sharply when they start moderating for themselves (which they inevitably will at some point)?
12:51 am on June 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Start trusting people and you will see them doing much better than your expectation.

I run a very similar forum, even I have made admins, weekly admins to promote and involve them. Now I have almost 10 hands and 5 heads.

As I said trust people they are really good :).

AjiNIMC

5:31 pm on June 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Since you have an established community with veteran users, is there nobody among that group whom you have confidence in and be fair? Sure everyone picks their sides, however, some people are able to rise above the fight if they have a greater responsibility as a moderator. They should be fairly easy to spot, in most cases. They probably get on well with most people on the site, and have a way of not being nasty when it comes to disagreements and conflicts.

If there is someone there whom you think you can trust their judgement, then start with them and go from there. Beyond that, you just need to work with whomever you give powers to and explain to them carefully what you expect of them and what they should and should not be doing. Provide them TEMPORARY measures in case of a major problem so that you can come in and make a final decision.

IE they might be able to temporary suspend a user who is causing a big problem, but not ban them. Such an action would only be done by you.

They might be able to move a post to a private forum, but not actually delete it, leaving that for you. That kind of stuff.

5:59 am on July 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi - just wanted to say thank you for all the help. Report back on what happened? I asked the forum members to make suggestions for moderators and they've come up with a list of names that I'm happy with. So now I'll start working on what they can and can't do and what our policies will be.

Thank you!

12:55 am on July 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi - just wanted to say thank you for all the help. Report back on what happened? I asked the forum members to make suggestions for moderators and they've come up with a list of names that I'm happy with. So now I'll start working on what they can and can't do and what our policies will be.

Create a forum invisible to others and just for moderators. They themself will take care of policies as well.