As a forum grows, it is highly likely you will need additional help when it comes to moderation. Even if your members are fantastically well behaved, moderators are useful to have as they are a reassuring, visible presence in your community. They help encourage conversations and are a reflection of the care and attention you pay to your site. It is important to choose the right members to become forum moderators.
Unfortunately though, even the best people can turn out to be wholly unsuitable, act inappropriately or get drunk on power.
When forum moderators go bad
Before taking any action at all, you need to consider whether your moderator really has gone bad. Did you issue them with guidelines on what you expect from them before giving them the position? If not, how can they be acting incorrectly if they have not been told how to act in the first place?!?
A rogue forum moderator can do your community untold damage. Every moderator of your site is a reflection of you – your professionalism, your dedication, your commitment. One bad forum moderator can ruin both your reputation and that of your site; therefore, you need to take decisive action when dealing with a rogue moderator.
How should you react?
This all depends on the problem you are having with the staff member in question. If the problem at hand is relatively minor, for example they are deleting/moving/editing threads that you feel should have been left alone, simply speak to your moderator privately and make your concerns clear.
Remain calm, professional, friendly and approachable. Use examples, and explain why you disagree with their actions. Don’t exaggerate, don’t generalise and don’t attack your staff member. Remember – the chances are, they are working for you absolutely free of charge. This in itself demands a certain level of respect from the outset.
The following example email/private message to a moderator is wholly inappropriate and should never be sent:
You keep on deleting loads of threads, and moving every post you don’t like. If you don’t stop doing this, you aren’t going to be a moderator on the site anymore. Either change your ways, or you are gone.
Instead, your message should be something along the following lines:
Hi (Insert Moderator’s Name)
I noticed that you moved the following thread (Insert URL) – may I ask why you felt this was necessary? I also noticed that you deleted posts on the following thread (Insert URL) although I think they were OK to stay . I am a little confused as to why you took action against these threads and posts and would appreciate you taking the time to fill me in on your reasoning.
The second example ensures a constructive dialogue with your moderator. You have kept to the facts, used examples and explained why you are contacting them. Remember, to get the best out of your forum moderators you need to communicate with them. This includes making them aware of any mistakes you feel they are making. Unless you communicate, your moderator will never learn what is considered acceptable within your community.
How to react if your forum moderator completely loses the plot
Of course, the time may come when a staff member abuses their position to such an extent that more immediate and direct action needs to be taken. I would immediately remove staff logins for any moderators that become abusive or publish any member’s personal information, for example.
Should I need to take such action, the moderator login would immediately be disabled to prevent such behaviour continuing, and a message would be sent to the moderator explaining my actions.
In a future article I will write about the process of firing a forum moderator – although the need to do this shouldn’t come around, if the worst happens you need to do it properly and professionally.
Have you had to warn or take action against any of your forum moderators? How did you do it? Did your moderator improve as a result, or did you have to let them go? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences by leaving a comment below.