How to improve User/Moderator relationships

Ah, moderators. You can’t live with them and you can only live without them if you can endure vast amounts of flaming spam. Respect levels vary between forums, but moderators and users have never seen eye to eye. It’s an authority thing, and a tough nut to crack in the realms of the internet, the one place that doesn’t have a strict, 100% authority. But there are ways moderators and users alike can improve how they react to one another.

But Medic, I hear you ask, what do you know about moderating? Well, I used to run a forum. Nothing major, but at its peak, we had about 50 active members and about 400 new posts every day. Of course, I had a team to help me, but still, that place ran as smooth as clockwork. I’ve also been an administrator on a TF2 server and everyone always seemed to like me. So I may not be the best person to speak to, but I do have some experience.

First off, for users:

1. Don’t be a jerk.
The most obvious tip around, don’t be a jerk. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t be a jerk. You’ll piss off other users, who will catch the attention of moderators, who will get you banned. Simple.

2. Don’t spam.
Another obvious universal rule.

3. If it’s been removed once, don’t post it again.
There was probably a reason why that thread about you pouring custard down your pants was removed. Posting it again will get it removed even quicker, since you’ve already alerted the moderators to your presence.

4. Don’t try to muddy the lines.
If you want to post something and you’re not sure that it’s breaking rules, then don’t post it. It’s even worse if you do it intentionally, since you might as well stick your hand in a moderator’s face and say “OH I’M FINE, I’M NOT BREAKING RULES!” It pisses people off. Don’t do it.

5. Don’t be a jerk.
It’s always good to repeat this one.

For Moderators:

1. Edit, don’t delete.
If someone says something mean, don’t flat out delete their post. Edit out the bad stuff they say and replace it with something better, that explains what this person did wrong and that they should apologise.

2. Close, don’t delete.
This falls under the first suggestion, but it’s important. Instead of deleting a thread, unless it’s riddled with really horrific things, close it and make the final post explain why the thread was closed.

When you delete or close a thread, you raise curiosity. You get people asking “why was this thread deleted?” and you get more people interested, which can spark the perpetrator to repost the thread, or for people to copy them. You also end up with people accidentally discussing banned content, as they try to work out WHY a thread was removed. Seriously, you’ll save yourselves time and effort by just closing a thread and saying “Hey, you did X wrong, don’t do it again!” rather than deleting and removing everything.

3. Make use of swear filters.
What’s that? Someone’s made up a new swearword? Someone’s spamming the N-word or C-word everywhere? people are trying to discuss the L-stuff or N-stuff? Set up a swear filter, which will convert all these words into fancy symbols. Fuck becomes ****, bollocks becomes ******** and “go piss yourself and head back to motherfucking 4chan” becomes “go jarate yourself and head back to mother****ing My Little Pony”. You can have a lot of fun with swear filters, and so can users. It saves a TON of time individually warning, banning and deleting people who keep on using words you disagree with. You’re not a forum if you don’t have swear filters.

4. Be smart with warnings/bans and always give a reason.
Of course, this all depends on a case-by-case basis. But if you’re about to permaban one of the most popular people in your forum, then it might be a wise idea to leave a note on their profile, describing exactly why this person has been banned and which rules they broke. Also, don’t permaban one person for something that you’d only give someone else a week’s ban for, unless they have not shown any signs of improving their behavior what so ever. Context, people, context!

5. JOIN IN, DAMMIT!
Actually talk to your community. This is the thing that annoys me most about moderators, they rarely make ANY attempt to try and fit in with their fellow forum-goers. You want people to respect you, then don’t act like a mysterious Batman figure, lurking in the shadows and only coming out to ban someone, before going back into hiding. TALK to people. Join in with their games. Make the occasional thread even. People will come to like having you around, and will be less aggressive when you’re forced to act and ban someone.

These are all simple things. No one has an excuse to not follow these stupidly easy guidelines.

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