Finding a Balance in Forum Moderation and Activity

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Finding a Balance in Forum Moderation and Activity

For those who do not normally moderate, or those who are new into moderating forums, I bet you have wondered what you should do to balance your moderating of the forum and being active on it. I hope to give you a few tips to help you out in that field. Forum Rules When you write up your forum rules, which dictate what members can and cannot post and do on the forum, you need to figure out what rules exactly needs to be spelt out in being restrictive, and what rules you need to have that allows your members to be lax and have fun at the same time. Though remember, you don't want too restrictive rules, or too lax of rules. Depending on the forum you are running or moderating, combined with where your host is located, really depends on what you should have in your rules by default. Nearly every host (except for those who are known to allow virtually everything on their servers), has a terms of service that defines what you can and cannot use on their servers, it would be a good start to go there and see what they have, so that you can have some default rules to go by for your forum. With most hosts, they may have a section that states the type of objectionable content you cannot display or host, which you could use for your forum rules too. An example of an Objectionable Content Section:
  • You shall not use the Website or Services to upload, post, transmit, display, perform or distribute any content, information or materials that:
    • (a) are libelous, defamatory, abusive, or threatening, excessively violent, harassing, obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or pornographic;
    • (b) constitute child pornography;
    • (c) solicit personal information from or exploit in a sexual or violent manner anyone under the age of 18;
    • (d) incite, encourage or threaten physical harm against another;
    • (e) promote or glorify racial intolerance, use hate and/or racist terms, or signify hate towards any person or group of people; or
    • (f) glamorize the use of hard core illegal substances and drugs.
The above if used, can be used to cover most rules that you can think of, atleast in the aspect of Objectionable Content. You could go further and add more to it, based on the forum type you are running. For example, a webmaster forum might prohibit the discussion or linking to of Pirated or Nulled Software. Also, you could define what constitutes backseat moderation from your members, and what you expect them to do, when they find something wrong. After you have considered the basics of really what you cannot have on the forum, you might consider some minor rules that might help you maintain the forum. For example, you might want to limit the number of links in a signature, or a maximum avatar size, based on the theme of your forum. One thing though, is that you do not want your forum to look like it is extremely prohibitive in what users are allowed, and not allowed to do. You need to consider that there are people put off, if they notice that they can't do the basics that most users enjoy having on their account. So I suggest you do not put account restrictions in place, unless it is absolutely needed because of the host you are on. Also, try your best to find a balance in your rules. Moderation Policy A Moderation Policy is something that helps you, and your moderators know exactly what constitutes as a reminder, an infraction/warning, and what could get the user banned on your forum. A good idea that you could do, is to create a set of rules that your moderators have to do, in order to properly do things in relationship to moderating and potentially banning people. One idea, which is always a good thing to have, is to have a thread made in your moderator's board, where your moderators post the things they did in relationship to reminding or giving out warnings to the general membership. Also, aside from the rules on your forum, it would be wise to have a condensed version of your Moderator Policy made for the public, so to give your members an idea of the actions that are involved to warrant the decision made from your moderators. A good rule of thumb when creating a Moderation Policy, is to make it so that your members are given enough opportunities to change the way they are doing something. Just like your rules, you want to make it so that the users who are on the forum, still want to be on the forum even after a moderation decision is made. Dedicated Staff Next, you should have Dedicated Staff. What does that mean? It means that you need to look for potential staff that will stay with your forum longer, than just a couple of months. You need staff who are willing to go the extra mile to do their job. You need staff who are enjoyable to be around, and will be balanced in their decisions regarding their job on the forum. And also, they need to be actively engaged with the members of the forum, and with posting new content. Activity This goes hand in hand with having a dedicated staff team. You cannot have a good dedicated staff team, if the members of the team aren't actively involved in the forum itself. How else will your forum succeed, if your staff aren't involved with daily posting of new content? One thing though, is that you can't force your staff to post in a particular forum, if they aren't interested in a particular subject. The best thing to do, in order to help your staff to be actively engaged, is to learn what subjects they like to talk about the most, and have them post that as much as they can; and to also encourage them to post outside of their comfort level, so that they can learn new things. Remember, do not force your staff to post where they are not comfortable posting, encourage them to post content that they enjoy, and to encourage them to occasionally get out of their comfort area, and try posting in something they haven't posted in recently.
Remember, that if you follow the above as well as you can, you will have a happier forum, and possibly an active forum, than a number of forums that may be out there, that relates to your forum subject. Thank you for your time reading this. Keep coming back to the blog, and comment below!

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