Many forum owners feel they can only attract the best moderators if they can afford to pay them. I disagree with this notion; I feel that if you have passionate members you can attract the best moderators absolutely free of charge.
The benefits of paying moderators
I can understand the argument for paying forum moderators – if you offer money for someone to carry out moderator duties, you can hold them more accountable for their actions and more readily discipline those that fall short.
If you pay for forum moderators, you may be able to attract those with expertise in the subject area of your community. You may be able to attract those with experience and qualifications, and you may be able to attract people who will be more reliable than volunteers due to the financial incentives available.
The disadvantages of paying moderators
The chances are, if you need to pay a moderator then they will not have the passion for your community that someone who is willing to do the job for free will have. Your paid moderator is far more likely to be motivated by the money rather than their love of your community.
A lack of passion can be reflected in the quality of posts a moderator may make. Additionally, lack of passion can lead to a reduction in motivation meaning the paid moderator may not carry out their role as well as a volunteer may.
If your members discover that the moderators in their community are being paid, they may feel less connected to the site – as soon as someone is seen to receive benefits different to others there is an instant distinction between ‘them’ (the moderators) and ‘us’ (the members).
The qualities of the best moderators
The best moderators will have the following attributes:
I have no doubt that you can find people within your community who hold these qualities. When you have found these people, approach them with a view of recruiting them as a moderator.
I would choose a loyal member with a proven passion and mature track record who volunteers to moderate my community over a paid moderator every time.