Among the many traits that I value in a moderator, one of the most important is a strong attention to detail.

Details matter. A lot. Details are the difference between a post that violates your guidelines and one that doesn’t. Details are what ensures consistency in the application of those guidelines and in the handling of questionable content.

As administrator, I like to think of myself as moderation quality assurance. My staff removes the content that they feel is in violation of our guidelines, in line with our system of training, previous actions and our staff guidelines and manuals.

I then review each decision when I visit the community. By review, I don’t mean that I reply to each moderation decision saying it is appropriate or not. No, I just read each piece of documentation tied to moderator action.

For all of the actions that we take, a small percentage of them are overturned by me. When it makes sense, I use these as a teachable moment, where I explain to the staff as a whole why it wasn’t a violation of our guidelines. After that, I restore the post (if it was a post) and contact the related member to explain the situation and apologize.

Most of the decisions that have to be corrected are valid in some way, or even close to being a violation, but aren’t. Some would say, why not just leave them if they are close? Why spend the effort to reverse the decisions and admit a mistake?

Because attention to detail is important. Consistency is important. That is one of the ways that members learn about your guidelines – your consistent enforcement of them. If you start removing things that are close, but not actual violations, it plays with the consistency of the guidelines themselves and gives people the wrong idea.

I’m not concerned with being perfect, I’m concerned with ensuring that the final decision is the right decision. And that is why attention to detail is so important for a moderator so that, more often than not, the first decision is also the final decision needed.

Because it’s more than just what was said, it’s how it was said and in what context. It’s the ability to view the content and all mitigating factors and make the appropriate determination when considering all details. And when that decision is made, the attention to detail to properly and consistently document violations and contact members with a voice that is consistent with the staff as a whole.

People who don’t care about details apply standards sloppily, which damages the credibility of moderation on your community.