In your opinion, how active should administrators be in the public forums?

Catch-22

Fan
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Jan 7, 2004
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650
I recently checked and noticed that I had not made a "normal" (or casual) post in my public forums for three months. :eek:

Do not worry, I am ranked #1 for most posts in the various staff forums!

Of my 50 posts in last 90 days that are visible to the public, all of them were official business for me. Mostly announcements. Sometimes I start polls but I am really working out my development plans for building the site. A few posts are spent doing things like opening or closing forums. I found one normal-looking thread but then I remembered that was deliberately started to help shape the scope of a new forum. I also post statistics once a month but that is really a conscious effort to monitor the health of the forums.

For a fairly large message board, where on a daily basis thousands of people visit and thousands of posts are made, I think an administrator who stays in the background is actually a positive thing. I do not meddle. I do not interfere in the moderator's daily work. I do not play peacemaker for every random dispute and I avoid becoming entangled in trivial issues. If I stumble upon something grevious, I try to handle it behind the scenes. I basically just give the forums room to breathe and concentrate on large scale issues.

I wish more administrators would take a hands-off approach for large forums. There is nothing sadder than an administrator who starts debating politics in a random forum and then bans people who disagree or who win the argument. I do not like administrators who develop a cult of followers or who seek praise from the members. My site is not about me. It is not a friendship or dating network to bolster my private life. It is for the stated mission statement of the site. Why do so many administrators want to treat it like a popularity contest that they can alter whenever it does not go their way?

NOTE: Everything I have said applies to larger forums. For small or starting sites, I think it very important for an administrator to have a significant casual presence to keep things moving and to provide positive momentum. Also, I guess it is also okay if the stated purpose of your site is to have a place where you are the star attraction. ;)

What sort of presence do you think administrators should keep in their public forums?
 

wizard1974uk

Tazmanian Gremlin
Joined
Jan 6, 2004
Messages
5,764
Big or small doesn't matter, I think an admin should have a presence on the board. The lack of presence could show to the members that he/she doesn't care about the board.

My forum is still small at the moment, even if it were to get a lot bigger I'd still maintain the same level of presence.
 

Mel

Participant
Joined
Jan 7, 2004
Messages
96
I've seen some successful boards that go with Catch-22's theory. In my board, I defintately deal more with the behind-the-scenes stuff than I do with the public. But then again, my fellow administrators are very active, which kind of balances it out.
 

Kathy

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jan 1, 2004
Messages
9,030
I don't have time to post much on my own board....esepcially with all the mods i have there. I spend my time on behind the scenes stuff, managing the staff and personnel issues.

Although when the board was young, i answered every single question that came through. I remember when the day arrived...after just a few weeks when the members were answering each other! I found a few mods at that point and realized *I* didn't have to answer them all...that this was what community was all about.

I do find, on occasion of having to post to a thread, to set a tone...its like EF Hutton. They all stop to come look at the thread. To me that is more disruptive than helpful in many cases for the community while I turned the momentum of one thread ;)
 

Regs

Aspirant
Joined
Jan 13, 2004
Messages
28
Excellent topic and some good thoughts so far.

Personally, I think it really depends on how you relate to your staff team. In my experience, I have had a hard time justifying asking them to do things if I am not doing them as well... it's a leadership thing for me I suppose.

It would probably be different if I could offer them pay of some sort but I'm definitely not at that point. Yet. :D

I do find, on occasion of having to post to a thread, to set a tone...its like EF Hutton. They all stop to come look at the thread. To me that is more disruptive than helpful in many cases for the community while I turned the momentum of one thread
I find myself in the same boat lately. SuperMods tend to PM each other more and I see them "watching" the WOL page all the time :rolleyes: Just recently I had one request an avatar change using MSN... I asked him to post that in the forum for these requests as it helps the community along and he replied that it was easier for him this way and for me to now do his request! :mad: I think I need to go read the "how to fire staff w/o retirbution" thread here :D

Cheers,

~Regs.
 

Sal Collaziano

Womanizer
Joined
Jan 1, 2004
Messages
880
I participate in a large percentage of the discussions in the beginning. As soon as things are moving on their own, I'm outta there - and I only participate in discussions that specifically interest me. Why? I agree with Catch-22.. The board isn't about me or my opinions. I also try to stay out of the Bicker Wars as best as I can - and I deal with issues WAY beyond the scenes.

A lot of my time is spent trying to figure out what my sites are missing and how those voids can be filled. Once I've found something, then starts the testing and eventually making it happen. I'm always up to something - even when it seems like I'm doing nothing...
 

Kathy

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jan 1, 2004
Messages
9,030
Sal Collaziano said:
I'm always up to something - even when it seems like I'm doing nothing...


:suspect:

Stealth Admin.

:D

I, too, spend most of my time on my site enhancing it for the benefit of my members. My mods do a great job keeping things going. I have an admin assistant that signals me to the mod forum if I'm needed. I could spend all my time sitting in the mod forum participating in their discussions and it would be 24/7.

I'd rather be working on projects and ideas.... and then I spring it on my mods.
 

Sal Collaziano

Womanizer
Joined
Jan 1, 2004
Messages
880
I think that's the right way to handle things.. Nobody can improve on the backbone of the site itself but the owner (99% of the time). That should not be anyone elses responsibility.. But the community - that's another story.. There's just too much for one person to handle - and that's why we've all got a 'staff' to help out. Usually, the people 'on-staff' are very glad to be there. That's the only way I'd have it... When that's the case, they're glad to put in some of their extra time. This leaves the owners with the time to enhance the site (search engines, scripts, addons, etc)...
 

Los

I have no home.
Joined
Jan 13, 2004
Messages
216
A few things.

The site owner and senior administrator should have a very open voice and speak freely, being comfortable with the surroundings and people he's come to associate himself with. In my message board, I've met a good number of people in Austin, San Antonio, etc, and put up no front about being a hardass or someone who is just above everyone else. What you see is what I am. And they're all aware of that. Its the easiest and best way to win the respect of your peers. I give much respect to administrators who take time out of their busy schedules to shoot the **** with their fellow board members. What I don't like are those who set up the board, get tired of it, and let it turn to ****.

On the backside of things, I make sure the board runs to the best of my abilities, watch out for trouble makers, and think up new ideas and ways to generate popularity and members, and if God willing, funds. :kathy:

I think my situation is a bit unique because many of the members within my staff are very knowledgeable in their specific forum, where I've placed them at. Because it revolves primarily around cars, the mods play a dual role of helping me with the board and helping other members with questions that involving nothing to do with things like "why is Ford the best car company in the world".

In the end, you can never be too strong in your presence or too light because if you deviate from the original goal, then everything falls apart.

:bouncy:
 

Ogden2k

01001111
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Jan 6, 2004
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1,116
I hope my site never becomes that busy that I can't answer all of the questions.... Why start a site if you can't participate??
 

Mikki

Enthusiast
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Jan 14, 2004
Messages
180
I participate in as many discussions as I can on one of my boards, which is quite a bit since it's very slow. It's mostly friends anyway, and I don't have a lot of questions or problems to take care of, but working on it consumes most of my time.

On my other board I hardly participate at all. It's a busy board and I work on it quite a bit, but not as much as the other one. I just don't have the time. The funny thing about it is there are no mods whatsoever on this board, it runs all by itself...:D
 

floris

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Jan 17, 2004
Messages
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We have 4 admins on vBulletin.nl
1 is me
2 is scott (vb dev)
3 is cary (vb team)
4 is finch (friend)

I am the one with the most posts (hehe) and am active as admin.
Scott is active reading threads, giving advice and helping find bugs and testing stuff on the vb files to see how it might fix things. (the behind the scenes admin!)
Cary is active by helping through pm/email with suggestions and advice, processing comeptition prices and things like that. Not a big poster either; but still a trustworthy help!
finch is the inactive admin, but gets active from time to time and when I need another vote to make a decision i can't make, he is there to give his objective oppinion. Which is worth a lot to me then.

The other serious changes and discussions are held with the active staff members, being mods or super mods. Sometimes even a friend who has nothing to do with the site :D

Being an admin doens't have to mean you must have any posts at all. Their job can go beyond participating in a community. On this site, the admins have their title to thank due to their help behind the scenes and their experience and knowledge. We have the super mods to handle the user management, rather then the admins.
 

The Sandman

Administrator
Joined
Jan 1, 2004
Messages
29,140
floris said:
We have 4 admins on vBulletin.nl
1 is me
2 is scott (vb dev)
3 is cary (vb team)
4 is finch (friend)
Not too shabby!
I am the one with the most posts (hehe)
You don't say...
Being an admin doens't have to mean you must have any posts at all.
But it is more fun if you do get into the discussions - you feel more a part of the Community.
 

Kentaurus

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Feb 7, 2004
Messages
364
There was a time in my forum when I knew all the members, and I read every post in the forum, also I was able to answer (and follow) every thread.

That is (sadly) no longer possible as the forum has grown, and I quite like it how it is now. You can go to some subforum and search for a thread, then go to another subforum and there are threads for that particular topic.. it's a bigger community.

With that kind of forum it is dangerous for the administrator to take an active role, there are too many users watching. Some of them waiting for you to say something that is wrong and some of them really willing to start a fight just for the fun of fighting with an admin. Some of them will quote you out of context to drive your credibility down. And even in the unlikely scenario that all your users were good people they will still take your posts as an "official post" instead of a casual opinion from any user. You cannot say "I would like to see more religion topics here" without the users thinking that you are thinking about changing the site rules, and you are likely to change the natural flow of a thread because some users would rather agree with the administrator.

Besides that there are more important tasks that an administrator must do, forum maintenance, staff, updating and promoting the site. These aren't trivial, they can take a lot of time, and if you are really into developing your community you should rely in your moderators for the daily chit chat and keep yourself busy with issues that only an administrator can handle.
 

FansofRealityTV

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Feb 6, 2004
Messages
1,314
I disagree with you 100% Kentaurus.

I started my site on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I take an extremely active role in both the ongoing discussions and in the administration of the site. My members know when I'm participating in a discussion, and when I'm administrating or moderating their discussion. My staff also does their thing, but ultimately, I'm creating a site that *I* want to hang out in. What good is it if I can't hang out in it?

Some may call me obsessive, but I at least skim over every single one of the 3,000 posts per day on my site. I consider it part of my job to know what's going on in every thread, in every forum, on the site.

I will always continue to take an active role in the discussions on the site. The day I stop is the day the site shuts down.

I've never understood administrators who only post administrative stuff. At that point, it's just a business, and the whole feel of the site changes.
 

KeithMcL

Freelance Web Designer
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Jan 12, 2004
Messages
5,728
I still actively participate in discussions on my forums. I think it's always good to show the members that you're still around and are interested in the topics that are discussed on your own forums.

I don't ever get involved in public disputes. If something is getting out of control it's discussed in private with all parties involved.
 

kilcher

Devotee
Joined
Jan 17, 2004
Messages
2,914
I think the admin should be fairly active, not because they have to be but because they want to be. Otherwise it might be time to move on. I've seen some boards where no one seems to know who runs the site. I just can't imagine. The day I stop enjoying participating in my site is the day I get rid of it.

kentaurus - Every community is different but I don't have that problem on mine. I don't really find that anyone treats me any different because I'm an admin (though I'm sure I probably get more attention). My mods do have that problem every so often though.
 

Kentaurus

Adherent
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Feb 7, 2004
Messages
364
I got to that opinion through testing. If I post in my forum with a normal nobody-knows-me account I usually get different answers than what I would get if I posted with my normal administrator account. Maybe the average age of the users in my forum is something that matters for them to be more influenciable, we are talking about 13-18 years here.

I like my site, I read a lot of threads, I post in them sometimes but I decided not to take an active role. In the past I ended up spoiling some threads because of that.

Maybe each community is different. But people over mine know who is the administrator because our forum changes a lot, I am often adding options, improving performance, doing maintenance and keeping users up to date of the new features. Also I send them a welcome email and listen to users problems privately. I don't need to post in every single thread to give the users the feeling that the forum is being well taken care of.
 

Antiarc

Participant
Joined
Feb 5, 2004
Messages
96
Depends on the community, I guess. At PVP, I'm a member first and an admin second. I'm there for the people, not to run the site, and while I keep things running, my first priority is to be a member of the community. This weekend, in fact, my roommate and myself drove out to Los Angeles and hung out with 12 other board members or so, and just generally had a great time. PVP is a very community-oriented board, though, which has al to to do with it.
 

AngelAmidala

Adherent
Joined
Feb 10, 2004
Messages
264
Well....I have the most posts at the board where I work...hehe

Generally we encourage staff who like to debate to take up a "secondary name" to use in the more heated areas.

I do actively participate in a few threads on my board...but they're all fun in nature. There where I've made friends....and things I'm interested in mostly. And some days I hardly have time to do even that.
 
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