Give me your best Moderator tips.
October 11, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I've recently become a mod (on a photography site) and would like any advice how to be fair and successful in the role. Especially when there are some members who's primary interest seems to be one of disruption and argument.
posted by michswiss to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is highly forum-dependent, and this topic should be discussed with the other moderators on the forum in question. Some forums are highly moderated (like this one!) and others aren't (which will remain nameless).

For what it's worth, I've always preferred a tyrannical moderator role. Don't explain yourself, just do what's right for the site. There's no need to be "fair" - if someone is disrupting the forum, they should be promptly silenced. Don't consider them - consider what they say, and if it's inappropriate, get rid of it.
posted by saeculorum at 7:48 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Well it should show how difficult the job can be by how much I disagree with the above.

Moderators I respect follow the spirit of the rules rather the letter of the law. They listen to complaints and provide an outlet for dissent. And they make it clear that they are interpreting the rules that exist as best they can to create the best experience for the users.

And when in doubt, don't delete anything, don't ban anyone, ask other mods what they would do, and contact the user directly and ask them why they are bugging out.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:05 PM on October 11, 2012

Make sure you know the limits of what you personally can and can't do, what needs to be worked out by people on their own and what you need to call in the big guns for. While it's okay to gently take sides if someone's losing their shit, always give someone a graceful out from an altercation in which they've behaved poorly, make as few personal callouts as possible and work the back room diplomacy angle as much as you can. Be really good at talking about problematic behavior and not problematic beliefs and/or people. Keep that perfect zinger to yourself and hold yourself to a higher standard because you're going to be more under a microscope. At best, you'll have equal numbers of people from "both" sides of different conflicts disliking you. If they all think you're sweeter on other people than you are on them, you're probably fine.

We've always done very well here with loose guidelines for all low-level stuff and a few bright line "that's a banning" issues. Everyone gets a second chance. Be consistent and stick to whatever the guiding principles of the site are. Sometimes you'll be called in as tiebreaker, don't be afraid to call it like you see it, confer with other moderators if you can/ Best of luck and feel free to ping us via the contact form if we can help.
posted by jessamyn at 8:07 PM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Take your cues from the more senior mods and admins as to how to handle disruptive and combative members.

I'm a mod at a Mac users forum, and we have a handful of long-term members who can also become disruptive. At various times, we've had to resort to temporary bans on these members to get them to chill the hell out. Sort of a month-long time-out.

What platform your forum is running on can also determine how much you can do. Our forum (until recently) was on vBulletin, and we had a pretty deep set of moderation tools with which to impose infractions, temp bans, sub-forum-specific bans, etc.

Overall, I'd say your best move would be to ask one of your admins when you have a question as to what you should do. Direct their attention to a member or post that you have issues with and get their feedback on the problem. Then, act accordingly. Eventually, you'll get a feel for what goes and what doesn't in the forums. And, if you over-moderate, there's always an admin available who can correct the action.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 AM on October 12, 2012

Lead by example. If you see a pattern in the forum you don't like, wonder if there is something you are doing which is actually encouraging it. If admins and moderators are fomenting bad behavior, it almost doesn't matter if other people are trying to behave. The good news: You have a lot more control over yourself than you do over anyone else. If it is you, you can fix it if you really want to.

Try to read every single post. Try to keep up regularly, as much as you can. Following a conversation in real time will tell you things that reading it "dead" after the fact are much, much harder to pick up on, if not impossible.

Remember that when things go wrong between members, much of the social dynamic isn't really about this particular sentence or post or discussion. It is usually really about something emotional that most people won't own up to. It is about stuff like: "I have a crush on him/her and they won't give me the time of day" or "I have baggage about X topic and this is hitting a nerve" or it is about something these two people said to each other on the forum five years ago and they still can't let it go.

Don't let anyone get the entire blame hung on them if there is a fight. It takes two (both sides, all parties) to make it work. It never works to hold one party accountable but not others. If one person really is that bad, banning them is better than turning them into a whipping boy.
posted by Michele in California at 9:16 AM on October 12, 2012

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