Moderators Moderate

Lisa

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Morganna submitted a new Article:

Moderators Moderate

Hiring a Moderator is a funny business and one that causes no end of confusion both for the person being hired and for the Administrator who’s hiring them. And, usually, it comes down to one specific reason.

The clue is in the name “Moderator”. Let's take a quick look at the actual definition of the word.

mod·er·a·tor
n.
1.
One that moderates, as:​
a.
One that arbitrates or mediates.
b.
One who presides over a meeting, forum, or debate.
Do you see anywhere in that definition a mention of being a content provider? No? Well, that’s because it’s not what the term means.

Nine times out of ten when an Admin hires a moderator, they choose from the most active content providers on their forum and this is possibly the worst thing an Admin can do.

One of the biggest mistakes an Admin makes is looking at a forum and its activity (or lack thereof) and thinking
They follow this up with hiring their best content providers and then, after a few weeks, when their new moderator has stopped posting because most of their forum time is spent dealing with spam or mediating arguments between members, they complain that their moderator’s activity has dropped. Wrong, their activity has probably tripled – their content has dropped. So, why do they do this? For some reason Admins look at a moderator and think that means they must provide regular interactive content on the community for other members to respond to. No, the reason a moderator is there is to keep your forum a happy place where members WANT to interact. Their first priority is not providing content.

A moderator is there to do one job – moderate the forums. If you pluck them from out of your shortlist of most content-productive members, then you’re doing your forum a disservice, because once they become a moderator the likelihood is they will have little time to write those long informative posts that brought them to your attention in the first place.

Moderators should be picked from the people who have balance – who know when to respond and when not to, who know how to deal with intractable members, who can predict the flamewar about to happen in a thread because they know the...

Read more about this article here...
 
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TrixieTang

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I'm not too sure whether to classify this as an article or as a rant. :p

But either way it was a pretty good read. And yeah, all too often I see people seeking moderators when what they really want are posters... not sure if that's generally just a misguided perception or a thinly-veiled advertising ploy... perhaps it's often a little of both.
 
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Lisa

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I'm not too sure whether to classify this as an article or as a rant.
:whistle:
It started out as a sarcastic rant really after listening to someone complaining that their moderator wasn't posting new threads (not here) but the way it turned out.. it became more a descriptive thing so felt more article-based.

More often than not it is a misguided perception, most forumers truly believe one of the roles of a moderator is to add content.
 

The Sandman

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More often than not it is a misguided perception, most forumers truly believe one of the roles of a moderator is to add content.

Well technically, are we talking about adding content or posting. Part of moderating is guiding a discussion by asking questions and making comments - maybe not content generation per se but along the lines of facilitating the generation of content by the members.
 
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Lisa

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Well technically, are we talking about adding content or posting. Part of moderating is guiding a discussion by asking questions and making comments - maybe not content generation per se but along the lines of facilitating the generation of content by the members.
Adding content - as in starting discussions, writing articles. Not responding to people, pushing a discussion along.
 

darnoldy

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Morganna-

Spot on! Additionally, it seems that there is a wide-spread attitude that moderators shouldn't participate in forum discussions because their position gives them authority, and they need to maintain neutrality. One sees people, in this forum, asking about stealth moderator accounts, so staff can participate "like regular members." I find this position equally destructive of forum culture.

To me, forum staff should be like the hosts at a good party—they need to welcome people, make some introductions, engage with the guests, encourage discussions, and pick up the empty plates and full ashtrays.
 

Nogitsune

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Morganna

I think I may be guilty of this myself :) Thanks for this topic!

So what, in your definition, would be the responsibility of an Administrator then?
 
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Lisa

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The official stance is that Admins are the backbone - they organise and delegate. But I always find that if an admin isn't active on a site, the site loses its soul and things start to fall apart.
 

Digital Phoenix

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The official stance is that Admins are the backbone - they organise and delegate. But I always find that if an admin isn't active on a site, the site loses its soul and things start to fall apart.

I can confirm with absalute certainty that it does happen, especially when the majority of a small member base joined only because they were friends of a particular admin.
 

Satelliting

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I am curious to know is it bad to try and bring in Moderators for a site opening and get them to try and start filling up the boards they moderate in with constant active posts? Then, since the site is new, they will still have time to make the posts and what not, then the members can fill the void as the site gets bigger.

Or am I just a crazy thinker? xD
 

darnoldy

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I am curious to know is it bad to try and bring in Moderators for a site opening and get them to try and start filling up the boards they moderate in with constant active posts? Then, since the site is new, they will still have time to make the posts and what not, then the members can fill the void as the site gets bigger.
It is not bad to bring in a group of people, to start discussions that will fill up the boards. I would not make them moderators. Call them "charter members" if you need to call them anything. They should simply be a core forum community.
 

Satelliting

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It is not bad to bring in a group of people, to start discussions that will fill up the boards. I would not make them moderators. Call them "charter members" if you need to call them anything. They should simply be a core forum community.

Oh, so sort of like BETA members if you would?
 

darnoldy

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Oh, so sort of like BETA members if you would?
That's not a bad way to frame it.

Okay, I realize my opinion on this runs contrary to the prevailing advice...

We get people on here regularly who want to start a forum on whatever. And people tell them to start posting like crazy and build content to attract members. I think this is backwards.

My advice would be that, if you haven't been a member of an online community related to whatever, if you don't know at least a dozen people who are interested in talking with each other about whatever online, then don't start a forum—go find one or more to join.

If you do know a dozen or more people who want to talk about whatever, and don't have a place to do that that meets their needs, then start your forum with that core group—and the group will create your content.
 

Lisa

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Okay, I realize my opinion on this runs contrary to the prevailing advice...
I don't think it is contrary to prevailing advice. The way to get a forum going is, obviously, by having content to attract people - but the best way to achieve that is by having a core group of people at the start.

I never start a forum alone - I always find a group of people with an interest in the subject I'm starting a site about and rope them in to kick things off.
 

PoetJC

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Nice thread. Made for an interesting read Morganna --- and like darnoldy said = Pretty much spot on.

Spot on! Additionally, it seems that there is a wide-spread attitude that moderators shouldn't participate in forum discussions because their position gives them authority, and they need to maintain neutrality. One sees people, in this forum, asking about stealth moderator accounts, so staff can participate "like regular members." I find this position equally destructive of forum culture.

To me, forum staff should be like the hosts at a good party—they need to welcome people, make some introductions, engage with the guests, encourage discussions, and pick up the empty plates and full ashtrays.
The bolded portion quote above is probably more in line with how I feel a moderator should interact with members. Presenting an air of neutrality has never been my strong point, especially on topics that I'm passionate about. Interestingly enough - It's something that I'm continually learning to become better at as a TAZ moderator though. IDK if this is a good or bad thing - because I don't much like watering down my comments for the sake of remaining neutral.

The underlined portion ==> What a job what a job. Must be a bit insane to sign up for being a moderator lmao.

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The official stance is that Admins are the backbone - they organise and delegate. But I always find that if an admin isn't active on a site, the site loses its soul and things start to fall apart.
Yep. Definitely can verify this. It's what's happened with my poetry forum. I've been MIA for weeks now. Unfortunately the result has been that overall activity has come to a screeching halt. So yeah - on smaller forums where there may only be one or two admins - there may be an issue when admin activity stops. Not so much an issue on larger forums though.

J.
 

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Lisa

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Thanks Jacquii :)

Presenting an air of neutrality has never been my strong point, especially on topics that I'm passionate about. Interestingly enough - It's something that I'm continually learning to become better at as a TAZ moderator though. IDK if this is a good or bad thing - because I don't much like watering down my comments for the sake of remaining neutral.

I agree that a moderator should be able to share their opinions like any other member, but I also believe that because they hold a staff position they should always aim for a degree of professionalism when sharing those opinions.
 
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