Becoming a moderator isn’t hard, but being a moderator is very difficult

How to become a moderator of an online community and what to look out for.

3 minutes to read

Claudia Meindl

Claudia Meindl

Open Source Expert from Munich. Redmine, Drupal, Jenkins, Ansible, Jekyll.

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I think many people will agree that it is quite easy nowadays to get a moderator job in a forum of your interest. But it is much more difficult to become a really good moderator.

What makes a good moderator?

As I said, anyone can become a moderator in any forum. The supply is now very large and the demand obviously small. As soon as you show interest in a topic, post diligently and offer yourself as a helper to other members, you have a very good chance to get a moderator position or to apply for one. This happened to you? Super and congratulations! So you are now a moderator, and what happens next? Being a moderator does not mean using the delete button or the edit function like a wild man to show the forum members who is the master of the house. As a moderator you should not play power games. If that’s all you’re after, you’ll be out of a job very soon. Either because members complain about it and take it as a reason to leave the forum, or because very soon you will have problems with the team members who disagree with you.

What is the main task of a moderator?

The main task is to support the forum with contributions, to offer help to the members and to make sure that the guidelines are followed. It is always important to set a good example and always look out for the interests of the community. If you really have to delete or edit a post, you should never give priority to your personal feelings. Certainly you won’t like every member equally, but it’s all mutual. Everyone is to be treated equally. If you follow these rules, you will have less problems with the other members. No one feels disadvantaged and you avoid disputes within the moderation team.

Again in a nutshell: Even if you become a moderator on a voluntary basis, your job is to participate in the life of the community on a regular basis. You are partially responsible for keeping the forum alive by encouraging members to post. It is also your job to settle disputes and make sure that the guidelines are respected.

What disadvantages can a moderator job bring with it?

Most were normal forum members before a moderator job. Maybe they were even very popular among the others because of your knowledge or your nature. If you suddenly become a moderator in this community, it is often the case that you are put on a different level by the other members. You are no longer one of them. Popularity can quickly turn into envy and resentment. One should reckon with this and, if possible, come to terms with it. Even if you don’t understand it.

Another very important point that many often overlook: Depending on the topic of the forum, the age of the moderator can play a certain role in how successfully he will perform his job. Not every moderator is accepted by the members if he is far below the average age of the community. Some people don’t like to be told what to do by someone who is still "half a child".

What are the most important rules a moderator has to follow?

  1. You have to be diplomatic.
  2. You should be a team player.
  3. One must not give priority to personal feelings.
  4. You should participate in the life of the community on a regular basis, if time permits.
  5. You should set a good example by treating each member fairly and using his or her "power function Don’t play off.
  6. You should be able to keep important and especially internal things to yourself.

Especially if you’re new to the moderation team, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If something is unclear to you, or if you are particularly interested in something, ask your questions on the team board.

Now some may ask themselves the question, whether I have all the here mentioned moderator qualities at all No. I am certainly not perfect in all of them. I work on it, but like every other person, I also have my strengths and weaknesses. I have only listed the points that I myself have already observed among our team members and on which we place particular emphasis.

Updated: May 2, 2006

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