What is a forum moderator?

A forum moderator oversees the communication activity of an Internet forum. It monitors the exchange of contributors and makes decisions about the content and direction of topics. Moving discussions from one section to another to keep threads organized is also a common task for a forum moderator.

Moderators often work from home, requiring only a laptop and internet connection to do their work.

If the tone of a forum turns hostile or starts moving in the direction of personal attacks, the forum moderator usually has the power to block the discussion to avoid heated exchanges. It can also hide discussions that it deems unworthy of further discussion. On the other hand, topics that he thinks deserve further analysis may be posted indefinitely by the moderator, even if they don’t get comments.

Forum moderators read posts to make sure they follow established guidelines.

Moderator roles are as diverse as the forum threads themselves. Some moderators are virtually invisible; they only arise when situations arise that do not seem likely to resolve. Other forum moderators are always there, ready to intercede at the slightest sign of speech. Moderators of public forums often have to enforce a lot of rules of conduct and decorum, as public contributors tend to communicate without abandon, which can sometimes annoy other commenters.

Forum moderators can help prevent the posting of harmful material.

Private forums linked to a site or group often work a little differently. The forum moderator is likely familiar with the members, and may be more lax in enforcing the rules if they are aware of members’ mockery and tones. Standards differ widely across forums, and beginners are advised to post with caution until they have a general feel for the forum’s atmosphere. Regardless of forum topic or setting, most prohibit the exchange of illegal or copyrighted material and pornography, and many avoid profanity or use inappropriate language or images.

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Moderators are sometimes encouraged to participate in discussions, especially if they have specialized experience or advice to contribute. Other forums prefer that their moderators remain completely objective and serve primarily as impartial enforcers. Occasionally, a forum moderator will pose as a contributor to steer a discussion in another direction or offer suggestions without fear of representing a conflict of interest.

In addition to acting as parents or guardians of forum content, forum moderators are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of the forum in other ways. This requires HTML knowledge and acuity to move, merge, add and delete text, graphics and links. Contributors often ask moderators to help them with technical issues accessing and posting to the site.

A forum moderator’s supplemental duties may include relocating discussions to more appropriate sections, closing or blocking threads based on decreased interest or a lack of recent activity, editing posts for clarity or content, and deleting threads. Topic deletion can be temporary or permanent, depending on the wishes of the forum moderator.

If an abusive contributor refuses to stop unacceptable behavior, the forum moderator usually has the power to ban the user. If the offender continues to post and evades the ban, the moderator can choose to access the user’s IP address. This allows the moderator to ban the address instead of banning the user by name or email address.

Forum moderators help keep discussions light and drama free.

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