I have been running one of my boards for almost seven years now. Over that time my moderator team has changed more than once. In some cases, it’s because the person no longer has an interest in the subject matter and asks to be removed from the team. In other cases, a life event (health or family issue) forces them to choose between spending time online and some other activity. In some cases the moderator just stops moderating. What should be done in that case? And how can you determine that a moderator has, in fact, stopped moderating?
The first thing that I decided that needed to do is have some documented way to determine which moderators are actually moderating. Remember that I’m using phpBB2 which does not have the moderator log that is present in phpBB3. A while back I posted on my blog about my “Post Notes” MOD that I was creating. There are three basic components (features) of that MOD, including:
- Information about why a post was reported and how it was resolved
- Manually entered notes from the moderator or administrator team members
- System-generated messages based on moderator actions
Several of those items allow me to monitor my moderators and see if they’re doing their job. Before I can determine if a moderator is doing their job, I have to define what the job requirements are. So I will start with that.
Moderator Job Requirements
I expect my moderators to
- Log in at least once a week
- Participate in discussions in the private “moderator corner” forum
- Perform moderator actions
I don’t keep log entries every time a moderator (or other board member) logs in, but the default phpBB process updates the
user_lastvisit column. I can use that. I can also see if moderators are participating in the private moderator forum just by checking for posts. It’s the last item on the list that was hard to track with a standard phpBB2 board.
Post Notes MOD
This blog entry is not going to be a detailed description of a phpBB2 MOD. I will save that for another day. What this MOD does is create a note associated with a post based on any moderator activity. If the action is a topic action (lock, split, move) then the post note is assigned to the first post in the topic. If the action is a post action (edit, handle a reported post) then the note is assigned directly to that post.
Reviewing the Evidence
With this MOD in place I can look back and see which moderators are moderating. By including this MOD on my board I don’t have to guess which team members are performing their expected duties. I can review the logs and know exactly who is doing what.
As a side note, I can also determine if any of the moderators seem to have a personal issue with any particular members. That helps me know if any particular moderator seems to have a crusade against any specific board member. That information has come in handy at times.
When a moderator is no longer moderating but is still active on the board I will generally ask them if they want to continue to be on the team. If they don’t, it’s easy to remove them. If they do, I remind them of the expectations that I have.
When a moderator is no longer moderating and is not active on the board, I simply remove them from the team and send them an email.
This post is rather ironic in its timing as I have just recently resigned from the moderator team at phpbb.com. The main reason for my resignation was the fact that I didn’t have enough time to do the things I listed above. If my expectations for what a moderator is supposed to do were not being met, I would ask that moderator to reconsider their position on the team. I could hardly ask for anything different from the team leaders and other moderator team members at phpbb.com.
So “how and when” do you fire a moderator? First, I submit that you have to gather the proper documentation to show they’re not doing the job as expected. Once you have that, then the “when” process is up to you. phpBB2 does not provide tools out of the box to support this process, but phpBB3 does.