Signs You Are Not Smart Enough To Moderate Boards

You delete anything that isn’t porn, advertising, or one member calling another member a “faggot retard.” If you are deleting things because someone posts that such and such a decision is “poorly thought out,” you are too sensitive and need to not be online. Ever.

– You delete threads more than once a week. Most situations should be handled by locking the threads. Locking allows players to see what it was that got locked (people learn from example), prevents reposts of locked material, and prevents conspiracy theories. If you are having to delete more often because of violations of the porn rule, you need tighter security on who becomes a member in the first place.

– You are constantly revising your board rules. If you have to have fifty rules that all boil down to “play nicely,” either you have an unusually obtuse community (possible) or you are making rules against things that annoy you personally (likely). Take your ego out of the game. If you cannot, you are not qualified to moderate a board.

– You have more than a handful of rules. A board rarely needs more than ten rules, and there are literally thousands of rulesets that at this point you can just cut and copy. The older, the more time tested. The one I usually start with was originally a usenet post.

– You avoid posting something that might cause drama, even though the something in question is most certainly going to be part of the game. Man UP, you chickenshit wimp.

– You whine about how the content of a particular post wasn’t your idea. This usually happens when the CM doesn’t have any balls besides the ones he keeps in his mouth.

– You talk to members in PM for any reason besides acknowledging reports. The best way to start drama is to indulge in whispering, making special friends on the forums, and putting in writing that you like some members more than others. A private message becomes a public post the moment you think it’ll never happen to you.

– You cannot separate your feelings from your work.

– Frank: Your first reaction to a negative post is “impotent rage” or “immediate denial.”

Add your own in the comments; if they sound like global rules to me (as I believe these are), I’ll add ’em with your posting name.

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42 Comments

  1. lordebon said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    – You spend more time worrying about signature images and avatars than you do posts. Either come up with a simple rule for them that everyone can understand or follow or disable them altogether. Believe it or not, people will survive.

  2. Arrakiv said,

    February 1, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Some good stuff, as always. These pretty much sum up exactly what you should be avoiding and also really point out what you should actually be doing with a forum.

    Moderating a forum should be pretty simple. Remember that it is your job and not your personal life, have some amount of transparency, be active and direct, and keep things simple rule-wise. It seems like most of your points end up pointing toward those concepts.

    I can’t exactly prove this has been the case often in larger communities (where they’re more useful), but sometimes it seems like there’s far too much reliance on users reporting posts that could have been picked up by the moderator themself. Tools like that are useful, but they shouldn’t be doing the job for you. I’ve had problems in smaller communities with rather lazy moderators.

  3. DJ Larkin said,

    February 1, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    So, what you’re trying to say is that my online posting habits are far too conservative…

  4. Grimwell said,

    February 1, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    …no she’s saying that she’s changed her mind about official forums for MMO’s!!!

    /runs

  5. Parizad said,

    February 1, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    …not even that. If you read it backwards, it says that MMOs are the devil. No? My bad…

  6. Aoladari said,

    February 2, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Speak English: If you can’t prove your intelligence person to person, then you have no choice but to convey your thoughts intelligently over the internet. Failure to do so results in loss of respect (and balls).

  7. VPellen said,

    February 2, 2008 at 3:43 am

    I admit I’ve been guilty of the second to last one and probably the last one two, although the second to last one was minor and bordering on not relevant. I can keep my feelings separate, but I worry sometimes that my personal feelings affect my better judgement. But if anything, I think I’m overly liberal.

    Here’s a rule that applies to my job which might not apply to others;

    – You state your opinions about anything in public.

    If you act like you have any kind of strong opinion on any subject, somebody’s going to call you on it. Loudly. I imagine it’s wayward devs saying “I like playing as archers” which makes all the users scream that all the devs are all playing archers all 100% of the time and hate each and every other class in the game.

  8. Jeff Freeman said,

    February 2, 2008 at 6:47 am

    – you read boards.

    teehee

    I kid!

  9. Slyfeind said,

    February 2, 2008 at 9:24 am

    VPellen, that reminds me of when I worked in advertising, and a customer disagreed with one of our policies. (I can’t remember which one, probably about printing swears or something.) I told the customer I agreed it was a bad policy.

    HOLY CRAP BAD ANSWER!

    But then there’s the flip side, like when Mythic said they understand DAOC’s population problems because half of them play Hibernia. (Masochists!)

  10. Ruby said,

    February 2, 2008 at 9:43 am

    You are not fit to be a mod if your head is so far up the dev teams ass that you’re the one digesting what they ate.

    If someone questions an idea or feature Jacobs pops in and calls you a troll just before the mods arrive to secure the perimeter.

    Sorry, just blowing off some steam. and yes, I’m talking about the Warhammer Alliance boards.

  11. Jeff Freeman said,

    February 2, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Can you elaborate on “- You cannot separate your feelings from your work. “?

    Ruby, isn’t he their boss? You might have unreasonable expectations regarding how much the average person will tolerate his employees publicly opposing him on his company’s forums.

    That doesn’t mean they like it, but might mean they have enough INT or WIS not to tell you if they don’t.

    On another hand, insulting them like that probably makes it easier for them to be more heavy-handed than they might like to be, too. So that’s kind of nice of you.

  12. Jeff Freeman said,

    February 2, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    P.S.

    #commentlist li .avatar {
    border:1px solid #C5C799;
    float:right;
    margin:10px 20px -30px 0px;
    padding:2px;
    }

    Try it, you’ll like it!

  13. Scott Jennings said,

    February 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    This blog (like mine) is running on wordpress.com and we don’t get access to editing stylesheet source. Frowny face.

    On the other hand, it’s (a) free and (b) doesn’t die randomly every 10 minutes.

  14. Ruby said,

    February 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Jeff, No, they are not his employees. Mythic does not run forums of its own. These mods are completely independent.

    I’m not nearly as harsh in that venue as I am in others. if I made a dissenting thread on that forum it’d be locked right away anyway.

  15. IainC said,

    February 2, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    If you’re running the official forums or something so close as to be indistinguishable and all the serious discussion is happening somewhere else then you are doing something wrong. If people aren’t contributing then don’t feel that you’re obliged to give them a place to pollute the internet.

    Your list seems particularly specific Sanya. Do you have a particular board in mind with this?

  16. Michael Pearson said,

    February 4, 2008 at 4:48 am

    “You whine about how the content of a particular post wasn’t your idea.”

    I would have thought that for a CM this would have been extremely unprofessional and a disciplinary offense.

    It really doesn’t look good for a company when the left hand doesn’t like what the right hand is doing.

  17. Frank S. said,

    February 4, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Interesting post to me, considering I have my hands in many different forums as a moderator or administrator.

    One I’d like to add is:
    -Your first reaction to a negative post is impotent rage or immediate denial.

    The problem with forum moderation is that inevitably, you are going to piss someone off. SOMEONE out there is going to call you an asshole, an arrogant prick, or a biased little midget with a God complex. When someone goes off on you or on the board or the game or the company or whatever, you just can’t give it right back to them, no matter how much they might actually deserve it. You’re the moderator, so you’re expected to be the better person. If a little kid runs up to you and kicks you in the shins, is your first reaction going to be to punt the misbehaving little tyke in the stomach for doing it? I highly doubt it.

    When they’re doing their jobs, moderators are expected to be professional and cool as ice unless the community is specifically designed so that the moderators have the freedom to be otherwise.

    For the rest of the time, that’s what friends/blogs/spouses-significant others are for if you really need to blow off some steam about some random anonymous Internet comment. 🙂

    On another note, “too many rules” depends on what you’re moderating and what you’re trying to build. I’ve had the pleasure of moderating all kinds of people and some require a little more attention rule-wise than others.

  18. ReptileHouse said,

    February 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    – You are more concerned about being right than about being effective

    It’s very easy to get sucked into long, drawn out “discussions” with people about whether some bit or other of a post is completely 100% correct. Or totally thought out. Or in proper alignment with the celestial spheres. Whatever. This is rarely productive and just leads to being trolled constantly.

    Before posting, stop and think, “What am I looking to accomplish here? Is this the best way to do that?”

    Engaging with people and answering clarifying questions is a good thing. However, be sure that’s really what’s happening. Stay focused on your real objectives.

  19. Dartwick said,

    February 4, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Sanya you do realize who much VN broke these rules to shelter your old company?

  20. Ruby said,

    February 5, 2008 at 4:42 am

    Dartwick, I don’t think that’s the case. Whenever I go to VN all I see are flames @ Mythic. The VN mods do a good job at deleting and locking a lot (not all or most, IMO) of the substance-less complaining, but if you want to bitch at least outline your reasons for doing so in a civil manner.

    All I’ve heard on those boards for the past 3 years is “Mythic sucks zomg they nerfed me into even more uselessness!”

  21. IainC said,

    February 5, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Ooh! OOh!

    Make sure you have the power to take away the keyboard of any employee who makes an ass of himself on public forums. Any employee. from the CEO on down. Don’t let them think that a dev tag and/or a sense of entitlement gives them a pass.

  22. Surley Scarab said,

    February 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I’m going to have to agree with Ruby. DAoC was the height of my MMORPG playing and forum reading and one thing that I can confidently say is that there was plenty of Mythic bashing going on. As a matter of fact, in all of the other VN boards I read that were devoted to a particular game, there was mucho bashing of that game.

  23. Dartwick said,

    February 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Im not saying there arent plenty of posts that that deserve to be modded on VN. I think thats fairly obvious.

    But not matter how polite and fact based you make a critisism of Mythic policy there is always about a 50% chance it will be deleted. They let most disagreement about class class balance etc go. But if you make a post about the companies PR policies, for instance pointing out that the way all interviews in a given week manage to say the exact same thing no matter what questions are asked, the post usssually disappeares in minutes.

    And personally I am a fan of Mythic games, but believe me everyone at Mythic gets some cushy protection by mods not following Sanyas suggested rules.

  24. Frank S. said,

    February 6, 2008 at 2:00 am

    ReptileHouse:
    “- You are more concerned about being right than about being effective”

    This is the most common thing I have to do when I’m running a moderating team to rein new mods in on. Too often than not, moderators waste their time defending moderation or their boards. It basically derails threads because people who agree with the moderation or like the moderator like lovesick puppies are busy bashing the dissenter while the people who agree with the dissenter are busy flaming the moderator and leveling “fanboi” accusations. It’s really ridiculous.

    Give people a line to give feedback about moderation (another forum for suggestions and constructive criticism, or via PM) and you don’t have to waste time being “right”, just doing the job of moderation. Even then, debates about moderation have a limited shelf life. If there’s one thing that some people are likely not to budge on, it’s thinking they didn’t do anything wrong, especially on the Internet.

    A common rule I’ve set as far as mod guidance goes is – “Even if you didn’t do something right, assume you did it wrong”. It really puts things into perspective in terms of how to approach people who dislike your moderation. It doesn’t mean you can’t show your teeth once in a while, it just means that sinking your fangs into someone should be a last resort, reserved for the truly narrow-minded or basically destructive folks.

  25. Goemagog said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    thought about making a semi-snarky comment about picking a person to moderate forums that are primarily about what you do and say in forums moderated by other people.

    Goe, will still fight evil for food.

  26. Damion S said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    You respond more often to negative game and/or company bashers and ignore constructive positive threads.

    Players follow patterns. If they see the negative fucktards getting all the answers, they are going to respond by being negative fucktards. You can teach people how to post in a positive and healthy way, simply by being careful who you dole out responses to.

  27. UnSub said,

    February 8, 2008 at 2:29 am

    – You start to play favourites on the forums. Nothing drives a wedge into a community like a moderator who has their favourite posters who they shower with attention and / or treat as untouchable.

    – You refuse to discipline a long-time and / or popular poster who is clearly breaking the rules. Perhaps you fear blowback from the community if you do (in which case, wuss) or perhaps you like the poster and want to overlook what is going on (in which case, idiot). If you don’t enforce the rules for that person, then why should anyone else follow them?

    – You bring the drama on something that isn’t game (or board) related. Perhaps you have a view on politics that you feel the need to air, or some great driving need to talk about social injustice. Don’t (unless that’s the entire point of the board’s existence… and off-topic sub-forums aren’t the entire point of the board’s existence).

    – You cut’n’paste responses from a template or rely on pat answers. “Working as intended” is no longer an acceptable response – you have to at least sound proactive about the issue being raised. Also, telling people to “Have a great time playing our game!” is the online equivalent to “Have a nice day!”. No-one buys that kind of sentiment as genuine.

  28. February 9, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    *You don’t ban someone for a blatent breach of the rules, because he’s your friend/well liked/is sleeping with the admin/is doing contract work for the owner of the site’s network

    I’ve seen all these happen. The third one ended with a fansite for a major game being closed because the admin had a snit and deleted the site when all his moderators told him that he really, really needed to ban his girlfriend before she poisoned the entire site.

  29. February 12, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    […] too rare commodity in this overly politically correct world. In her latest diatribe Sanya takes on people who are not smart enough to moderated boards. This list can apply to virtually any board whether it be about shooters, MMOs or even movies. But […]

  30. PM said,

    February 14, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Post 29 shows me why I hate those stupid pop-ups that show you where a link goes.

  31. Jeff Freeman said,

    February 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Ruby, I stand corrected.

    I can imagine a scenario or two in which the relationship might amount to pretty much the same thing, but since I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll just shut up, instead.

    Scott:
    There’s an upgrade available to edit css on wordpress blogs:
    http://wordpress.com/products/custom-css/
    (and finding out how much it costs is sort of an adventure).

    They let you upload html and php but not css?

    That’s… weird…

  32. February 19, 2008 at 9:52 am

    […] Oh, sure, some people seem to be able to get away with it. […]

  33. UnSub said,

    February 28, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I’ve got another one I’ve just seen:

    – You help derail threads in the very forums you are meant to be keeping kinda on-topic. Sure, you may really love your dogs and want to talk about them, but it probably isn’t appropriate to do it in a thread containing an official announcement just because another poster started talking about their dogs. Lead by example, okay?

  34. MattF said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    – You air other people’s issues to anyone other than another mod, or a manager and only if it’s pertinent. People have issues sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they’re up for everyone to hear. No matter how hilarious it is. 😐

    – You let your emotions handle how you treat people. Just because they’re pissed off doesn’t mean you should treat them harsher. In fact, I would say treat them less harsh, as people have a tendency to do stupid things when under the influence of grr. It’s the ones who dance around the rule while acting like a dick that gain my ire.

    – If you’ve stated an opinion on something, you mod the hell out of that thread. Even if people are breaking rules left and right it still looks like you’re being ‘biased’. This is why as a mod by and large you should shut up, sit down and occasionally voice a mild opinion if you feel you must.

    So many more that I just can’t post… alas.

  35. March 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    […] I probably fall into the category of someone not smart enough to moderate a forum, but that’s just my two […]

  36. March 24, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    If only things were this simple! Sometimes people have this innate ability to FOOL you into thinking they’re great moderators… and yet foul up royally when the time comes.

    What can you do, though. You live, you learn.

  37. March 25, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    […] says ban with extreme prejudice, Michael says don’t ban me bro, and Sanya wants to make sure you’re qualified to be running a forum in the first place, all of which strikes me as the […]

  38. blastedt said,

    March 25, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    So moderators are not actually allowed to participate in their forums?

    Here’s another one:

    -You try to tell other people how to act elsewhere.

  39. March 26, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    It seems obvious to me, if you are trying to get a conversation going, telling everybody who speaks to shut-up is counter productive to say the least. This article is what I tell GuildCafe’s guild leaders to read when they want to know how to have a successful guild forum, even if it is more of a “what not to do” guide.

  40. anon said,

    March 27, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    let me reassure you…. forum mod? nobody cares if you want to be forum mod go ahead…. if you think you’re mod is a fag then just move forums…. honestly? nobody cares…..

  41. douchebag said,

    March 29, 2008 at 12:41 am

    You are using WordPress…

    Man Up Pussy

  42. vuttitlyjup said,

    November 29, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Hi. I regularly be familiar with this forum. This is the head culture unqualified to ask a ridiculous.
    How numberless in this forum are references progressive behind, artful users?
    Can I bank all the advice that there is?


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