I guess my first community role was probably when I moderated a community that related to my personal interests. It was back in the 1990s and I was a moderator for years. I made thousands of posts and was even promoted to senior moderator.

I’m sure I learned numerous things during my time there. But there is only one thing that stands out to me, years later. There is only one story I still tell regularly, even 17+ years later.

During my years there, I estimate the administrator I worked under thanked me approximately twice.

It has always bothered me that he wasn’t more appreciative. But that early lesson helped drive my intense desire to make sure that the people around me know that I appreciate them. That first administrator mentored me in an interesting way: he taught me how not to lead.

I’m sure I would have been grateful if I hadn’t had that example, just because of my parents, but that example serves as an excellent reminder to me. I know how he made me feel. I didn’t want my moderators to feel like that.

I constantly thank my moderators. It’s a daily thing, not a rare occasion. They probably get sick of it.

But when I do that, when I talk about shifting praise to them or I’m sending them a physical award, a sword or out to dinner, it is that person, the first person I worked under, who I never want to be confused with.