Strategies for Effective Forum Moderation


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Slides from my forum moderation session at ForumCon 2013 in San Francisco

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  • All forums are differentDifferent forums have different sensibilities. You wouldn’t moderate a forum for expectant mothers the same way you would moderate a forum for motorcyclists.Moderate to your business goalsModeration isn’t something we do for its own sake. We moderate because it helps us generate revenue. You may want to moderate differently based on how you monetize your forum. For example, in some cases, people adding links to products may hurt you if one of your advertisers is a competitor. But if you generate revenue through VigLink or Skimlinks, you may want to encourage that. Language is vitally importantWe all know how easy it is for works to be misconstrued. Take some extra time and make sure all of your communications with forum members are clear, friendly, and won’t be misinterpreted.Praise in public…Never call out a forum member in the forum, but always praise members in the forum
  • So who’s right? Patrick, who says rules are important, or Richard, who says nobody reads them?
  • These forums rules are rather lengthy. They go on for more than two thousand words.“Make sure you are familiar with the rules below. Memorize them. Read them daily if you have to. They are guidelines you must follow in order to keep your account privileges. If you break a rule, you will likely be punished. “And my favorite: “We here on the _______________ Forums are very elitist and strict assholes.”Not very welcoming…
  • These rules are from one of the communities on Delphi Forums.They’re pretty simple:The say they all participants are expected to show respect to others, you can’t use nasty language, you can’t be a jerk to others, and you can’t spam. That’s pretty much it.
  • Another take at rules…keep it positive.
  • The Professor knows more than you do, and he’s not afraid to point that out.Can be a positive presence in the community if he posts useful information and talks about things that are relevant to your membersBut watch out for behavior that is intimidating to new users. Don’t want potential new participants scared off If this user comes on too strong, send him a private note thanking him for his valuable contributions and asking him to help you make new members feel welcome.
  • The Traffic Cop is a variation on The Professor. He’s a know-it-all when it comes to forum rules and operations. The Traffic Cop is the one berating newcomers for posting in the wrong thread or asking questions that have already been answered. Remind The Traffic Cop that forum rules and procedures are important, but it’s never OK to scare off people that are new to the forum.
  • The Show-Off is, you know, a show offHe’s actually someone you want participating in the forum.For example, in a product support community, The Show-Off will brag about how he accomplished something notable with the product, and that’s great content. Just make sure he provides details so that others can learn from his success.
  • Knows a little HTML, or maybe installed WordPress on his web host and now thinks he’s an expert on how your forums runOften gains followers in the community when he disputes your explanation of why your community platform behaves a certain way, or why a desired feature is difficult to implement.Respond to him by explaining that you have sophisticated systems and a skilled technical staff that maybe, just maybe, know more than he does. But do it as politely as possible.
  • Makes claims about things your doing that he says are illegal.Will often join in and provide a “legal” opinion when other users complain about some perceived slight or misstep by forum management. Don’t get into a war of words with this person. The best response is to say that you’re not a lawyer and you can’t comment on legal issues. Period.
  • Strategies for Effective Forum Moderation

    1. 1. Strategies for EffectiveForum ModerationDave CayemDelphi ForumsTwitter: @DaveCayemBlog: cayem.comEmail:
    2. 2. Opening Thoughts• All forums are different, so each requires itsown moderation style• Moderate to your business goals• Language is vitally important• Praise in public, criticize in private
    3. 3. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #1: Have Rules!“…a publicly posted set of guidelines, or rules, isvery important because then, when somethingneeds to be addressed, you have something torefer to – a public document that all can see.”Patrick O’KeefeManagingCommunities.comAuthor of “Managing Online Forums”
    4. 4. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #1: Have Rules!“New members don’t read the rules. No onedoes. It may be comforting (and legally useful)to have them, but lets not pretend they doanything to change behaviour.”Richard MillingtonFeverBee Community ConsultancyAuthor of “Buzzing Communities”
    5. 5. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #1: Have Rules!
    6. 6. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #1: Have Rules!
    7. 7. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #1: Have Rules!
    8. 8. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #2: Be Consistent• Don’t let troublemakers accuse you ofplaying favorites• Have a set of written guidelines detailingcommon infractions and how to deal withthem
    9. 9. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #3: Take Emotion Out of The Equation• Never get into a fight with a disruptivemember – kill them with kindness• Getting nasty with troublemakers just givesthem another reason to believe that they’rebeing somehow victimized
    10. 10. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #4: Be Clear About Expectations• When calling out a member for breaking therules (which you should always do in private),be clear about what you’re doing and why• Give people the benefit of the doubt• Don’t scare the newbies!
    11. 11. 5 Rules for Moderating a ForumRule #5: Safety First• If anything occurs in your community thatsuggests a threat to anyone’s safety orproperty, make sure the authorities arenotified.• If a member feels threatened, urge him/herto contact law enforcement
    12. 12. ScenarioYour forum rules clearly state no foullanguage. A member drops the F-bomb in theforum.How to you respond?
    13. 13. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants
    14. 14. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants• The Professor
    15. 15. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants• The Professor• The Traffic Cop
    16. 16. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants• The Professor• The Traffic Cop• The Show Off
    17. 17. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants• The Professor• The Traffic Cop• The Show Off• The Technical Expert
    18. 18. 5 Kinds of Forum Participants• The Professor• The Traffic Cop• The Show Off• The Technical Expert• The Attorney
    19. 19. 5 Kinds of Forum ParticipantsOthers?What kind of difficult members have you comeacross?
    20. 20. 5 Key Phrases for Moderators“I know some people are anxious to post anddon’t read the rules…”“I’m sorry you’re having a problem”“Your input is appreciated”“I took the liberty of moving your post”“I really can’t add anything to what’s alreadybeen said”
    21. 21. War StoriesTell us about your biggest forum moderationchallenge and how you dealt with it
    22. 22. Helpful #cmgrhangoutmycmgr.comHashtags
    23. 23. Thanks for comingDave CayemDelphi ForumsTwitter: @DaveCayemBlog: cayem.comEmail: