Forum Advice; Moderator and Staff Member Tips

Hiring staff for forum can be tricky, here are tips for forum owners.

  1. CM30
    Hiring staff for forum can be tricky. But if you're having trouble coming up with a staff team, keeping them in control or anything or the sort, don't despair! Here are five tips for hiring staff and keeping them in check.

    1. Staff should never be able to demote those of a higher rank

    Should be self explanatory, but unfortunately it sometimes isn't. If you have a team of mods, none of these mods should be able to fire or demote your other mods, especially not without your permission. Same with admins.

    Otherwise all it takes is one argument, and bam, your forum falls into chaos as the staff fight among themselves and try turning each other to normal members or even banned users.

    Additionally, you also don't want the situation I've seen mentioned elsewhere, where a moderator managed to fire and demote administrators. Yeah, admins are meant to be more important and more powerful than moderators, and you darn right don't want the latter to be able to overthrow or fire the former.

    Finally, you should make your own account uneditable too. Don't want any staff deciding to mutiny and throw you out your own site. And yes, it does happen ocasionally.

    So make sure your staff powers are set correctly. Set yourself as uneditable in config files. And remember it like this:

    An (non owner) admin should not be able to fire or demote another one.

    A mod should not be able to fire or demote another mod or an admin

    And neither should be able to demote, fire or ban the owner of the forum.

    2. Be selective in who you hire

    Really, never do what I see on far too many admin forums, where people go around posting 'I need staff for my new forum, first three applicants become admins!' No, that's the exact wrong way of getting a staff team.

    Admin is a rank with great powers and responsibility. You do not just go around handing it out to all and sundry who apply, especially if you want your forum to last and fall to pieces in minutes.

    Same with moderators. Be selective, hire good members, don't just hire whoever the hell applies like some admins do.

    3. You don't need lots of staff for a new forum or site

    Key point here. How many staff does a brand new forum need?

    One, the admin. Unless your site has some massive promotions and marketing behind it (perhaps with it being an official company forum advertised all over the internet and with a well known brand name associated), your site isn't going to initially be active enough that you alone can't handle any trouble.

    So don't hire unneeded staff. A new site doesn't need a team of admins and a seperate team of mods and a review team and a marketing team and god knows what else. In fact, it puts people off to see a brand new community with more staff than normal members, and it might even stop them from registering or make them think the site is dead.

    Keep the number of staff to a minimum, and hire more when needed.

    4. Hire from within where possible

    And you know what? You can see this as sort of a corollary to the above point. If your site is active enough to require staff, it should have at least a few people mature and intelligent enough that you can trust them with the role.

    Yes some admin and forum promotion sites have sections to hire staff. Yes sometimes you'll get random strangers ask to be staff despite never being a member of the forum.

    Both of these are terrible ideas. Staff should be an example to the community. They should be people with a history, people with knowledge of the actual subject. Staff you get outside of the community generally can't offer that. They don't know the community, how it works or the standards involved. They often don't know the subject too well, and you have no idea what their personalities are like from past experience.

    Don't be like an anonymous large company akin to Internet Brands. Don't hire random people off other internet forums to be staff on your own, and don't treat staff roles as something any 'expert' can handle. If you do, the staff won't be good, won't know enough and generally won't get the respect of the forum members.

    5. Don't make your staff anonymous akin to a customer service or tech support team

    Because honestly, it looks... boring and a bit sad to see a brand new site with the main admin called 'admin' and the entire staff team having generic usernames like 'moderator' or 'supervisor' or whatever. If your forum is a business, maybe then something similar might be a good idea.

    But for your standard forum community, I've always thought it's better to have a team of identifiable individuals running the show rather than what appear to be anonymous corporate suits.

    Well, there are my tips about how to hire moderators and how to not give them too much power. Do you agree with what I've said here?