Your forum is growing quite nicely and your user base is building, but there comes a point where you need a helping hand. This is where moderators step in. Moderators are members of the community with more privileges than a normal registered user, but without the ultimate control that an administrator possess. Moderators can undertake important forum tasks, such as locking, deleting or moving topics, issuing warnings or even issuing bans. They enforce the rules of the forum, and are essentially on the front line. Moderating can be thankless job, but despite this, most people relish the opportunity and the extra responsibility.
A user that regularly visits and contributes to the forum is typically a prime candidate for a moderator role. Other members of the community already know them, they understand what is acceptable and what is not, and a sustained rate of activity actually proves to you, the administrator, that they aren’t fly-by-nighters – in other words, they are reliable and will stick by you.
Generally, they are very knowledgeable about the subject matter of the forum. For example, you would expect the person to provide a certain degree of insight and well thought out messages rather than countless one line posts; “I agree!”, “Well said!”, and so on don’t cut it. Once they are elevated to the position of moderator, they will be an authority on the matter, so you want them to lead by example. Their new rank or username colour – or whatever is associated with the new position – will set them apart from the rest, and the readers of the forum will subconsciously take extra notice of what a moderator (or administrator) has to say.
Personality is a very important factor when selecting a moderator. This person will be representative of your forum administration, and it would reflect badly upon you and the forum overall if the person has a tendency to behave erratically or degrade other posters. Put simply, if the person regularly breaks the rules of your forum they wouldn’t be well suited to moderating. You want people of even temperament, as when push comes to shove, they could be the judge during a forum dispute and it is their duty to act impartially and responsibly.
Generally, post count should not play a part. If the user you want to promote has been active over a long period, then this will probably be reflected in their post count. Be aware though, that promoting a user with a low post count will draw more attention to the selection than promoting a user with a high post count. While both may be equally deserving, the user with a higher post count may feel hardly done by because it would appear that they have contributed more to the forum.
There are other factors you may need to consider, such as command of the language or how much time you will want the user to commit to moderating, but these are very much dependent on the style of your forum and tend not to be an issue.
In summary, the key points to consider when selecting a moderator:
- Does the user contribute regularly?
- Has the user demonstrated a good degree of activity consistently over a period of time?
- Does the user have a good personality?
- Will they be suited to a leadership position, can they make decisions on-the-spot?
Most forum administrations discuss the possibility of a new moderator privately, whether that be with all of the administrators and moderators, or only among the moderators. If possible, it is a good idea to get input from your fellow top brass to explore all options, including ones you may not have seen yourself.
Some forums implement a probation period for moderators, where their position will be reviewed at a later time. If you or your team are uncertain about the promotion of a certain member, then it could be a worthwhile exercise to use a probation period.
Above all though, trust your instincts. It is your forum, and you know it better than anyone else. In most cases, the decision you make will be the correct one.