Back in May, I wrote about how to give your site personal appeal and why it is important for you to do so. One of the methods I endorsed is doing away with names for your moderators such as ‘admin’ or ‘staff’, and giving them regular user names. A small move like this can immediately make your staff more approachable and make your community feel friendlier.
If you take this approach though, it is important for you to ensure your moderators are still identifiable as staff.
Why moderator identification is necessary
Giving your moderators personal user names is great – but only if you use another method to advertise their status. It is important for your moderators to be public – for the exact same reasons that people argue for ‘more visible policing’ on the streets.
Publicly visible moderators act as a deterrent to any members who may be thinking about breaking your site rules; if they can see who your staff members are and see them getting involved in your community, they may just think twice before bothering to post that spam link or flame other members.
When visitors come to your community, they will check out the content before making a decision on whether to become a member. If they can identify moderators getting involved in the conversations, your community will benefit in more than one way: not only do they actually see friendly, approachable moderators, but they also see that your forum is actually moderated! They won’t be able to see how friendly your moderators are if they can’t tell them apart from your other members.
Many of us have joined forums only to be disappointed when we come across abuse or spam. We look to moderators to prevent this – if we see that no action has been taken, we start to wonder how much the forum administrator actually cares about us as members. We may even look to help them out by reporting offensive threads. We can’t do this if we don’t know who the moderators are!
Give your moderators a personal but obvious presence
It’s a really good idea to make your staff come across as personable and approachable, and a great way of doing this is by giving them ‘regular’ user names.
If you take this approach though, you must ensure that you make their staff status identifiable in other ways – change the colour of their name, give them a custom rank; just make sure that your members can easily determine just who has those moderator powers. It is pointless having effective, friendly, popular moderators if nobody knows who they are!
What is your policy when it comes to naming and identifying your moderators? Do you give them ‘staff’ names, or let them keep their regular user names? Do you advertise their moderator status? Do you think that hidden moderators are the way to go? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.