As we all know, running a forum can be rewarding at times, but it can also be difficult and stressing. One way it can prove to be difficult is the moderation and administration side of things. Now of course, while administration tends to be tedious as far as technical aspects go, it is pretty much veiled to the community with the exception of the Staff. Whereas with the moderation side of the forum, this is where it can ultimately make or break a forum in so many ways. I’ll touch base on three different sections regarding the difficulty of moderation with an in-depth report on each issue.
We will start with setting up moderation on the forum. Life is not perfect, and the same can be said for the internet. One of the tasks that may prove to be daunting for an Admin is setting up rules and developing a moderation policy to be put in place for the community. Now you might be thinking that it might be a piece of cake and not to sweat it. While that can be said for some forum topics, the same can not be iterated for other serious topics. This first issue may be commonly found in heated forums such as political forums, religious forums, and other topics that tend to follow with arguments. So when working on the moderation policy and guidelines, one should always be keeping in mind how things will play out. Obviously you want your community to be welcoming to those who stumble upon it so they can root themselves in and become active, but you also do not want for it to become a playground for those to run around and do as they please with violations. While it might not be the most pressing issue covered in this article, it’s one that does merit some deep thought when in the early stages of your forum.
The second issue is consistency of moderation within the community. So I’ll give you an example: Billy Bob signs up to my forum and decides to insult one of the staff members. His post is reported and he receives a PM about the vulgarity rule. A few hours later, John Doe insults a new member inside a political topic on the forum. His post is reported, but the report is closed without any further action. John Doe is a former staff member with no previous moderation history on the forum. The issue with this is that the moderation was not consistent between the two reports. Even though John Doe was a previous staff member, his moderation history is the same as the new member, who got a PM for insulting someone else.
This brings me to my second point as I mentioned with consistency of moderation. Regardless of the member’s position or history on the forum, it should not warrant an override of your policy. Moreover, it eliminates all fairness to other members who were in the same situation in regards to moderation history. While it may be hard to not give a friend a grace pass or just to turn your head away to the violation because you’re worried about what will happen(we’ll cover this in the third section), it’s not only fair to your members, but it also shows your staff that you’re consistent in your decisions and policies. Even if the member was a former admin, they are still held to the same standards as a regular member, which does include following the rules and being subjected to the moderation policies set in place.
The third and final issue is member correspondence to moderation within the community. So let’s continue the scenario of John Doe not receiving a PM for insulting another member, while Billy Bob got one. Sally Sue saw the report on John and decided not to issue a PM. You might be wondering why he didn’t get a PM while the other member did. The reason he did not get a PM was because of his previous staff tenure. Sally did not want to cause any issues between her and John that would have occurred from John receiving the moderation PM from Sally. It has happened between on countless occasions to where rule violations have been passed off in fear of losing friends, damaging their reputation, etc. However, this can not impede the moderation of the forum. As a staff member, the first and foremost job is to essentially serve the community and moderate it within the guidelines and policies, regardless of all personal views/opinions. So if it comes down to them issuing a PM or Warning to their friend, while it might not work out good on the personal side, it’s strictly business; and it is strictly business since moderation is your job that you applied/were invited to do for the community. Of course as I said, life isn’t perfect and some will not like your actions as a Moderator, but in the end, your actions will good intentions will only serve to better the community.
So with guys, that pretty much wraps up these three difficult aspects of Moderation. You may find more as time goes on, but I just decided to touch base on these three commonly found issues.