As your online community grows, you will need help. You can’t be expected to continue building relationships with every member, reading every post and being the sole public face of the community. The time will come when you will need to recruit additional moderators or representatives. This needs to be done carefully – once you give powers to members, it can be very difficult to take them away.
Don’t make the mistake of giving additional powers to your most popular members, or your most active. Instead, choose the members that you know and trust; ones that have demonstrated their commitment and loyalty to the community; members that create the best content and display all the qualities you want your community to be associated with.
Don’t give out a huge number of powers and responsibilities to your moderators – indeed, you may find you don’t need to give them any at all. At Female Forum, I have a handful of community representatives that have responsibilities, but no actual moderator powers. The community is still young – I don’t want members to have the extra burden of responsibility for moderation, and I want conversations to flow freely and with minimal moving, editing or deleting of posts during this critical time.
One global moderator
Your community should have only one person with ‘global moderator’ powers – ie the ability to access and edit all areas of the community. That person should be the community manager. Yes, you can have more than one moderator (as your site grows, this will probably be a necessity) but there should only be one overall manager. Giving global powers to more than one person can lead to confusion as to who is ultimately in charge, and inconsistency when it comes to the enforcement of your community guidelines. Additionally, the more people that have access to the administrator panel, the higher the risk of security being breached.
Easy to give, hard to take away
You need to think very carefully before giving members additional powers or responsibilities. Most of your dedicated members will love having a higher status within the community and will readily accept any powers you give them. Problems can soon occur if you need to rescind those powers, or if you change your mind further down the line.
When recruiting and nurturing moderators in your community, start slowly. Begin by offering responsibilities without powers. Then, if your community needs more people with actual powers to delete or move content you can give these powers to the members that have proved themselves. Your members need to earn their additional powers and responsibilities.
One step too far
If you are reading this and have a sinking feeling in your stomach because you recognise you have too many people with the keys to your community, there is a way back. If you have assigned too many powers to individuals or groups of members, it is possible to scale them back but you need to be very tactful and diplomatic.
Once you have given powers to members, taking them away is likely to result in them feeling snubbed. You now risk having your most valuable members feeling alienated and becoming less active, less enthusiastic or even leaving the community altogether.
How to remove global moderators without alienating them
1 – Decide why you want to remove their powers
Yes, you should only have one global moderator – but if you have had more than one for years, without any problem, then is taking away their powers worth the risk of alienating and losing that member?
2 – Be honest
Communicate openly with your moderator and tell them exactly why you are removing some of their powers.
3 – Reassure
If you want your moderator to continue with reduced powers and they have a good track record, reassure them that your decision to reduce their powers has nothing to do with their abilities or commitment to the site. Focus on all the positive things they have done, tell them they are valued and tell them why they are valued.
I made the mistake of having an additional global moderator at Just Chat. Eventually, paranoia got the better of me and although the site wouldn’t be the community it is today without the contribution of this member, I needed to ensure I was the only one with access to the forum admin panel for my own peace of mind.
When I emailed this individual, the email went something like this:
Today, I took the decision to remove your access to the admin panel of the Just Chat forums. All your other moderator privileges remain intact.
Please be aware that the reason I have removed access is nothing to do with my confidence in you or your abilities – put simply, I have become less comfortable with knowing there is one extra ‘key’ to the admin panel out there. You make a great contribution to Just Chat, and the community just wouldn’t be the same without you.
I don’t believe you have needed to use your login to the admin panel on a regular basis anyway so I doubt this will have a major impact on your ability to carry out your moderator duties.
If you wish to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Again, please be reassured that my decision to remove your access has nothing to do with my confidence in your abilities, or the trust I have in you. I have made this decision solely because of my own paranoia that there is more than one login to the administrator panel out there.
Thanks for all you do.
Initially, the moderator in question was very unhappy with my decision. Despite my reassurances, they felt snubbed and felt that I no longer had faith in them. However, after a little more communication and reassurance I managed to keep hold of my most valuable moderator and there was now only one key to the admin panel – my own.
Of course, it would have been far better (and less risky) to have simply never given out the global moderator powers in the first place. You live and learn, though – so don’t do what I did. Give out moderator powers slowly and sparingly. It’s easy to give out powers. It’s very difficult to claw them back.