Anger Management - the Art of Forum Moderation

  By Seko, 2006; Revised
Contents »

Forum Moderation - The Technical Stuff  

The definition of a forum moderator, according to wikipedia, is someone granted special powers to enforce rules of an internet forum. The act of moderating has varied features. Such duties for All Empires Moderators, for example, are written in the Code of Conduct and Terms of Use guidelines. They include the ability to move threads to different sections of the forum. Close threads. Edit or delete posts. Pinning a sticky on a thread. Warning and banning members. Observing and blocking I.P. adresses. Monitoring inappropriate language. Interrupting flame wars. Providing reminders. As well as other capabilities.    
Some of the most time consuming duties for a forum moderator takes place while reading posts. This helps moderators gain valuable insight of any particular thread/post. While reading a thread, moderators can also become involved in the topic at hand by posting comments and opinions. By gaining first hand experience in a thread, moderators become acutely aware and are sensitive to a wide range of offenses that may occur.
Silly Member Offenses - Halt Who Goes There?   
Mod's (moderator abbreviated) tend to notice the obvious and subtle. What could be more obvious for a mod than a flame war in all it's splendor? Not much! For it is truly an obnoxious sight to behold. Flame wars tend to start off by one member posting hostile and/or insulting messages. The message isn't meant to be constructive but to persuade others to see things the flamer's way. Such offenses tend to be caught while the guilty party is in the act of trolling. 
Trolls generally act inflamatory. They try to be wity and sarcastic in order to draw members into a fruitless confrontation. Such disruptive behavior doesn't resemble the cute impression one gets by looking at little red haired dolls. Trolls utilize knee jerk reactions or planned strategy while projecting their message. A quick and thoughtless trollish remark leaves those in the discussion surprised and bothered. They can also switch identities by having multiple usenames.  Also known as 'Sock Puppets', they gang up on forumers in order to promote their own perspective. 
The Troll's neighbor is the Spammer. These guys or gals roam around the forum and post irrelevant messages to gain attention. By wrongly placing their posts they tend to disrupt the flow of an internet forum conversation. They may even advertise an item, web page or themselves when it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Whether out of boredom or sinister intent the spammer is an easy find for mod's. Another activity that is easily identified by mods is the use of obscene language or material. Pictures of pornography or those of an excessively graphic nature are violations of forum conduct. Though slang tends to be permitted, abusive name calling, swear words and personal insults are also violations. 
What is a forum without a heavy dose of ideology? Boring? Invigorating? Irritating! Most likely extreme nationalism and political propaganda are a mod's worst internet nightmare. All it takes is a subtle innuendo or flagrant dosage of ntionalism to stir trouble. Once the floodgates are opended the offended members strike back with their own counter measures. Some being cautious and responsible. Others being just as obnoxious as the perpetrator. At such a moment insults, accusations, derogatory remarks, bigotry, racism and political extremism raises its ugly head. Even the most patient and repected members of a forum could fall pray to the dark side of nationalism. Ethnic groups and political ideologies tend to be the focal point of such derogatory remarks. When caught off guard, the normally respectfull forumer is often tempted to respond during such events. During intense tirades carefully chosen words usually can make or break the direction a topic is headed. Age, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity are usually disrespected for the sake of an arguement. One's tone of confrontation and amount of negative responses often alert a mod to put his/her foot down. Religious preaching, excessively posting in a foreign language and plagiarism are also violations that have their limits. Moderators see this as a nuissance that needs attention.
Sometimes members of a forum share their disillusionment over a mod's intervention. A rational line of reasoning in making a moderator is always welcome by them. Private messages are the preffered choice for making complaints to a moderator or about a moderator. At other times, a member's frustration takes on different proportions. 
Rogues Gallery
Sometimes members do not have to violate a forum's codes of conduct in order to be red flagged in the eyes of a moderator.

The following is a list nicknames moderators use for types of members and the unique methods they use to get recognized, assert authority over a member, seek justice, and increase their overall brown nose factor on the forum.
The Kindly Mod Kisser - These are the members who generally agree with moderators just to get on the mod's good side. Maybe they think by acting that way it will bring them good fortune. They privately make 'PM's of Flattery' too. "Dear Mod X, I really liked the way you ______."

The Rebel - A forumer who secretly or openly, rebels against a mod's decision. 

The Rebel Leader - This conniving schemer gathers like minded individuals to support his
grandiose cause and attempts a coupe d'etate in order to have a mod subjected to closer scrutiny with the intention of the mod losing prestige or even power. 

The Mini Mod - Members that govern a thread as if they were mod assistants. Though altruistic in gesture they sometimes make suggestions that tend to benefit only themselves. However, most of the time the suggestions they make help alert the mod to troubles in a thread.  

The Sophisticated Spammer - Complains to mods over other's borderline violations for the sake of altering the tone of a topic towards their own liking. At worst, they suggest sanctions on competing forumers and slyly walk away getting off scott free.

The Hibernating Troll - These individuals haven't posted in a while but when they do they tend to tick a bunch of people off.

The Benign Intellectual - Smarty pants who think they are 'all that'. They tend to propagate their own esteemed

perspective and thereby establish a form of contempt towards anyone who dares not see things their way. Accusing others of being lower on the intellectual scale. Little do they know that most of the people they debate with have already had basic philosophy in junior high school.

Mr. Links Alot - Members that tend to flood a post with enough links to give off the impression that they really know what they're talking about. Such individuals are often ignored by mods since no violations are made. Yet trying so hard to make a point gives off the impression that they really are experts in the field or so they think.  

The Ultra-Nationalist - While bragging about the benefits of his/her own culture, the ultra-nationalist rarely finds fault with such overindulgence. Nothing compares to their supreme ideology. So its best for people steer to away from one. Don't dare attack the ultra-nationalist with a countering perspective about the virtues of your own culture because the ultra-nationalist will call you a bigot. Mods spend a lot of time managing the fallout from heated threads caused by one or more ultra-nationalists. 

The Paul - As an acknowledgement to All Empire's Editor, I have decided to share the special qualities of these unique individuals. Paul's are foul, fiendish creatures who generally dedicate themselves to making moderator's lives a misery. They are people you could rarely have any negative feelings towards, though. Their humor is intense and off the wall. A Paul's input is most welcome on a forum of intense debates and petty bickering.  


Moderating Styles
Moderators have their own styles when dealing with infringements on forum codes of conduct. Though it is their job to uphold forum rules, each mod has a unique perspective as to how often and to what extent they impose their position on members.  Some of them are forum specific moderators and others are global moderators. The latter having the ability to moderate the whole forum. Lastly, administrators who have ultimate control of the forum and appoint and control moderators. The following are nicknames for mods.
The Softie - These guys or gals rarely give warnings. They pleasantly participate in threads and leisurely interact with members of all sorts, one often wonders why they're moderators at all.

The Heavy - Moderators that regularly patrol the forum in jackboots. They love to dish out reminders and warnings like it were candy. Though rare, these type of moderators command respect. Sometimes they create more friction than was originally planned. 

Neutral Jones - Mods that see things from varied perspectives. You never know whose side they will be on. Mostly, by playing it safe, they remain neutral. 

Partial Patriarch - All moderators have cultural and political backgrounds that affect the way they moderate to some extent. Some like to show it more than others. The Partial Patriarch has no qualms about who he or she is. These type of moderators can be a softie, neutral or a heavy also. They tend to side with members of commonly shared perspectives. 

The Sabbatical  - Mods who periodically show up for duty and then leave for more important things to do in life; a well deserved break from the rigours of moderating. When the do show up they're often out of touch and make many mistakes. When they're gone we often wonder if they will ever be back. 

Forums are great fun. People from all across the world wide web gather to share diverse ideas and make idle chit chat. All Empires main focus is world history. Past, present and future. So click onto the HISTORY FORUM link at ALL EMPIRES and join in on the fun. Current members and moderators look forward to meeting you!