Moderation isn’t as easy as it sounds. A good moderator needs to have an arsenal of people skills at their beck and call. This would include excellent judgment, social intuition and a strong work ethic. Most people believe that you should hire moderators instead of picking them from your community. This is wrong.
Admins or moderators for your community should always come from your community itself. And the incentive should be status within the community.
Reddit spearheaded this idea of community moderators. Every forum adopted the idea of having community moderators that volunteer for the role.
Here’s what moderators do inside a community:
- Put up announcements.
- Remove posts and comments from their community that violate rules.
- Ban spammers, trolls and members who disrupt the peace.
- (in a webinar) Kick people off of stage who violate stage rules.
- Wield some degree of influence when it comes to changing community rules and goals.
The cream of the crop
So, how do you pick the right moderators for your online community? Here are nine tips that you should keep in mind during the selection process:
- Be really thoughtful of who you select and how you position what you're asking them to fit into. At a certain level of scale, you’ll need hierarchy even among moderators.
- Pick people who are not afraid to give feedback. But also ensure that the feedback is constructive and not just complaining. Do not pick chronic complainers, they are a time and energy drain.
- Pick people who have a history of speaking up about things that they feel are wrong or broken or didn't work. You need to find people who are willing to have that dialogue and have the agency to go fix things themselves.
- Tell them that's why you picked them. It’s important for these folks to know that they are valued and special in the community. A moderator is a type of freelancing gig where you’re almost always paid in status and not capital. There are much better jobs if folks are looking for money.
- When building trust, you don't want to overpromise and underdeliver. If you commit to something and it doesn't come through, the trust between you and the moderators is affected. Therefore under promise and overdeliver.
- Initially, you want to identify moderators and privately reach out to them. You should know all your moderators personally.
- Moderators talk, between each other and in public. So, avoid revealing sensitive business information unless mandatory.
- The best way to hire moderators is to ask for recommendations from your existing moderators.
- Eventually you can make the process public with applications open to everyone who's interested and filter them.
Keep it transient
You want to have a limited term on the moderator role. The reasons are two-fold:
- It brings in new perspective and culture over time
- It prunes moderators that are underperforming to their committed role
We used to cycle out one moderator every month, typically the most inactive/underperforming one.
For people who have finished their tenure, you can hire them full-time for brand development roles. This can be useful as they have hands-on experience and insights that are invaluable to your product and marketing teams.
You do not want to enforce hard requirements as long as people are participating. Remember these people have volunteered to help you grow. If someone wants to step back for a while, that should be totally fine. And if there’s a moderator you really like that’s about to leave, you should hire them into your business to keep them on board.
We hope this article has helped you gauge the right strategy to choose a moderator for your community. When we first began our Discord community, these guidelines really helped us pick the right people to help us scale up. If you want help with your own community, give us a call, and we’d be happy to help out.