Forum Administration

Usergroups Explained

On any internet forum, you’ll find that there are a majority of groups that members are sorted in. Each level has its own permissions, but the default group that makes up for most of your numbers is the registered member. I will be covering the different types of usergroups you may come across in your own forum, or another community you happen to visit. Some of you may not have a clear description of what each group is capable of doing in terms of moderation and forum management. This article is designed to provide you with a clear explanation, starting from the basic group known as registered members, right through to the administrators.

Registered Members

This is the default group which guests are placed in after registration and account activation (via email or manually approved by admins). They can post messages and threads to contribute to the community. Private messages can be sent, and visitor messages can be posted on members’ profiles (if the system exists). They have access to basic functions to help them make the most of the forum. Reporting posts/threads and members may be required when an issue arises and needs staff attention (such as a moderator).

Sectional Moderators

These special types of moderators have abilities in one or more sections of a forum. Although their powers are limited, working in partnership with other sectional moderators or super/global moderators can make a huge difference, especially if the community is very active and on a large scale. Typical tools include deleting, moving, merging, or locking threads/posts that are out of place or break the forum rules. Depending on the level set for this group, warnings or infractions may be issued for troublesome members. The forums that are under the control of each sectional moderator may be based on the sections that he or she is most active at. Sectional moderators have no permissions in other sections, so it would be as if they were regular members.

Super/Global Moderators

One level up from the sectional moderators, the name of this usergroup suggests greater responsibility and higher permissions. They can do everything that a sectional moderator does, and much more. Like an upgraded sectional moderator of sorts, in a way. Moderator permissions are accessible in every and each one of the sections. An additional function would be the Moderator Control Panel, where reported posts/threads are displayed (the report feature is present on every post, thread or member profile in case of a issue that may arise, such as a rule break) which requires intervention by a staff member (could be a moderator or admin). Moderators would be expected to deal with reports swiftly and efficiently, if they’re currently online and available at the time. Depending on circumstances, private messages may be used to alert other members of a possible rule break, or in more extreme cases, a temporary or permanent ban may be given.

Administrators

The final and highest level of permission holders are named administrators. They are able to moderate at will, if and when required. There is something completely different about this group; they are able to manage the forum, and they are also typically the creator/founder. Administrators may install themes tailored to the tastes of their members. If they have coding knowledge, they can design a custom theme for their forum. Otherwise, pre-made paid or free themes will be used. Modifications to the forum (such as an arcade or chatbox) can be added to maximize performance and make the most of the community. Forum sections can be created with descriptions, and certain permissions can be attached so only specific members or usergroups can access that section. Please kind in mind that a forum won’t get very far if there is only one administrator! The need may arise for extra moderators and administrators! Administrators can promote trustworthy members who have proven themselves worthy of the position by being constantly active, contributing considerably, helping out new members with any questions they may have, and much more. When there is an established team of a mix of both admins/mods, hopefully they will work together well, getting over any obstacles that way get in their way, making sure the community is running smoothly at all times.

These are the most commonly used groups which you may come across, but there may be others which use only some permissions from a moderator or administrator. An example of this would be an administrator who only has access to themes, serving as a theme manager. Usergroups are fully customizable. Username color and userbars/ranks/titles can be tweaked to allow members to easily distinguish staff members. VIP/premium members may also exist for those who have paid for the membership, or given as a prize for a contest. Typically a special/private section may be accessible. A bold username color may be applied also. In conclusion, the levels go like this, in order from lowest to highest:

  1. Member – Has normal access to all forum functions to enjoy all features!
  2. Sectional Moderator – Moderator permissions in a few select sections only.
  3. Super/Global Moderator – Moderation abilities over the whole forum, access to ModCP, ability to resolve conflicts and handle troublemakers by banning or deleting whole threads/posts.
  4. Administrator – Able to manage the forum behind the scenes at times. Has many forum-wide tools at their disposal which will affect functionality and overall appearance of the community.

Keep these in mind and I hope this article was helpful to you!

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