We all have an idea of what we would like our moderators to do and how we want them to act. In deciding these things, we are also able to figure out how we don’t want them to act. Sometimes, we realize this by seeing other moderators behaving badly. With this in mind, here are 10 moderator behaviors that I would never want to see from my moderators.

1. Condescending Thread Locking

I think you should avoiding locking topics in general. If a post is bad, it’s removed. Not closed. You don’t close threads and leave problem posts in public as that sends the wrong message. But, there is a time and place for locking threads. And when that is done, it should be done gracefully.

Locking topics shouldn’t be an act of provocation. It’s not a statement as to your dominance of  the forum. That should be conveyed. Posting something like “Locked.” just sends a totally wrong message. It’s unprofessional, condescending and crass.

2. Moderation Individuality

Individuality in people is a great thing. We’re all different and those differences are what makes life either difficult or awesome. If we were all the same, it’d be boring.

Moderation individuality is when a moderator decides that policies that have been set for moderators can be circumvented and that the moderator is free to make decisions against them and do what they want. It could be deciding not to document something, deciding something isn’t a violation when it clearly is, or something else. Whatever it is, it causes a lack of consistency in decisions, leading to confusion from members and staff alike. If done knowingly, it’s insubordination.

3. Moderators Moderating Moderators

Equals don’t manage equals. You want people on the same level to feel a sense of camaraderie and that is challenging if they feel that their equal is watching their moves and correcting them. It leads to bad blood and derision on your team.

I do not want staff members to turn a blind eye to anything. I want them to tell me, right away, so I can handle it myself. Coming from me, it will generally be better received and even if it isn’t, that’s my job. It can also be stressful for people to correct their equals and I don’t want my staffers to have to deal with that stress.

4. Sneaking Links

Moderators shouldn’t be sneaking links to their sites into posts, when the prevailing notion is that they are not allowed. If my moderators want to link to their site in their signature, cool. If they want to exchange links with me, I’ll be happy to do so, no matter the size of their site. But, sneaking links into posts isn’t cool.

I’ve had a moderator or two act like they should have been entitled to do this. That is not the case. They must set the example for members to follow.

5. Bossing Their Fellow Moderators Around

This is tied into what I mentioned about moderators moderating moderators, but different in a way. As an example, the report posts function on a site generally is not for moderators. It’s for people to point things out to moderators and then moderators to take care of said things.

Moderators should not be reporting posts because of political reasons. What’s political? “Oh… it’s not in my section.” If you have power in a section, take care of it!

I set the example as an administrator. Unless there is a very specific reason for it, I never tell my staff members to handle this or that post when I was the one that saw it first. I deal with it and I set the example of how it should be handled.

6. Excusing Things Due to “Being Human”

Yeah, we’re all human. And mistakes happen. But, that doesn’t mean that they need to. Consider your decisions, check documentation, ask questions and do your very best. Mistakes will still happen, but they will happen less often. And when they do happen, just figure out how to handle it next time, apologize if necessary, and move forward.

7. Not Understanding the Value of Words

Words matter. The words that you choose are very important and impact how poorly or well your message will be received. It’s important to formulate your words in the most proactive manner, the one that allows you to accomplish your objectives most frequently.

Moderators who are reckless with their words scare me a bit. When staff members reply, it’s bigger than them. The situation, the moment, is usually nothing compared with the long term impact of the moment. Consider your words carefully.

8. Believing That They’re Too Much of an Expert and Above Learning

Staff members do not need to be experts on the subject matter of the community. Even in support forums, they don’t have to be. The smartest people I know, know a lot and they know so much that they know that they don’t know everything and that they still have much to learn.

Those are the types of people that are most valuable to me. I don’t want staffers that think asking for help is a weakness or embarrassing. That’s foolish. I want people who are open to learning and willing to listen. I once had someone, at another site, criticize one of my Support Team members at phpBBHacks.com, because the person had asked for help. This just showed how shallow the critic was because the person he was critiquing ran laps around him when it came to knowledge.

9. Pointing Fingers

When something goes wrong, it goes wrong. It usually does no good to say it was because of someone else. It comes across as irresponsible. Staff members must always understand that the moment calls of them, and requires of them, that they deal with it professionally.

As an example, it’s never OK to be rude because someone else was rude to you. As a staff member, you are on a higher level. You are not on their level, you have more at stake, you are an example and it is your job to be a good one. An eye for an eye isn’t an appropriate rationalization. Will you excel or will you disappoint?

10. Trying Too Hard to Be Everyone’s Friend

Moderators are to be kind, respectful and encouraging. In doing so, they will become friends with people. But, their responsibilities on staff require that they place an emphasis on doing what is best for the community, in line with the goals that are set for it by the administrator. Sometimes, this leads to people not liking them. I do what I can to minimize this on my sites (I want people to hate me, not my staff), but it’s still a reality.

Part of being a leader, part of holding any type of authority is understanding this and being able to deal with. Being a leader means making decisions that will sometimes make you lonely. It’s tough, but it’s life.

So, those are my 10 things. What are some things that you don’t like to see moderators do?