Creative Commons License photo credit: susivinh

I’m a big believer in leaving moderation to moderators and in having a word with any member that attempts to act like a moderator.

By act like a moderator, I mean that they try to tell other people what they can and cannot post and where and when they can do so. Even if they are correct, I don’t want them telling other members what to do.

In the long run, I believe that this sort of thing does more harm than good. I want members to respect one another and treat each other kindly. I don’t want them to manage each other or to feel as though their fellow members are watching over their shoulder, waiting for them to slip up. I want them to enjoy the community and each other and leave the management to the recognized staff members within the community.

There can be negative emotions tied to being told you can’t do something. If those emotions present themselves, I want them directed at a member of my team or, best of all, me. If anyone is going to be disliked within the community, due to moderation, it should be me. I don’t want members disliking each other – not for that reason, anyway.

I don’t know that I’d liken moderators to police, but let’s use that as an example. If you are walking down the street and some random person tells you to get to the other side of the street because it’s illegal to walk on this side, what do you think of that person? And if a police officer does it, what do you think? Are the responses different? Generally, they will be. Who is that random person to tell me where to walk?

Beyond this, another issue that crops up is that members are sometimes wrong in their assertions about our guidelines. But, because they said it, people might believe it. In the worst of cases, a new member might get offended and never come back, because another member treated them like they did something wrong. This is an example of why it is important that a member of the team, who has a pretty good idea of what a violation looks like, and acts with care, should be the only one to speak to a member about a violation of our guidelines.

I do think that members can play an important role in moderation, however. Instead of confronting people directly, I ask them to turn that energy into a post report sent to a member of staff. That way, we can be aware of the situation, can review it, make the appropriate determination and handle it appropriately.