I have written in the past about how to effectively moderate forums. In that article though, I did not make any mention of the areas of a forum that the vast majority of forum developers fail to pay any attention to – namely the member list and the member profiles.
Why the member list and member profiles require moderation
The reason why most forum developers fail to moderate the member list and member profiles is because they are less prominent on the site. The main content of a forum is in the posts that members make – therefore it makes more sense to spend the majority of time ensuring that your members’ posts do not break your site rules or otherwise contain undesirable content.
Unfortunately, some users of your site (particularly first time visitors) may take time to browse your forum before deciding whether they wish to join. During this time, they may check out your member list and read some member profiles to get a feel for your community and its members.
The last thing you want is for that new visitor to find offensive or obviously scam/spam member names. Even worse would be member profiles containing offensive or obscene content.
A new member is true gold – the biggest challenge for any online community is to attract and retain new members. Make sure you don’t push away potential new members by failing to moderate all areas of your forum.
How to effectively moderate your member list and member profiles
It can be difficult to fully moderate your member list and all member profiles, particularly if your forum is popular and well developed. You can always decide to manually approve all new members – this gives you time to check each new member profile and user name. I am always hesitant in recommending this though, as it can be easy to lose the heat of a new member. It can be a solution though, if you are able to moderate all new members quickly.
By far the most effective way of moderating your member list and member profiles is by taking on help in the way of forum moderators. Make sure your moderators know that you want them to check out the member list on a regular basis, along with the profiles of new members as they join and existing members on a random basis.
As long as you are aware of the need to moderate these areas of your forum and you communicate these needs to your moderating team, you are already ahead of the majority of your competition.
Prevention is better than cure!
Of course, there are steps you can take to prevent any content that requires moderation from appearing in the first place. You can get rid of most automated spam/scam memberships by installing anti-spam software on your forum (the humanizer MOD for phpBB is particularly effective).
Having clear, prominent site rules can also help prevent members adding content to their profiles which you may not wish to appear on your site. Most of the time your members, both old and new, will be more than happy to stick by your site rules – as long as you have them!
You may well assume that you moderate your forum effectively as you vigilantly read every new post made, each and every day. After reading this article though, how effectively do you really moderate your forum, and have you noticed all of your members?