Moderating a Community

I recently took up the job of moderator on a fairly big, renowned peer-to-peer support site. Despite my previous experience of moderating and administering my own (admittedly small) website some years ago, I’ve discovered most of what I learned does not directly translate to this new site.

I’m a member of a team whose job it is to basically discourage and take purposeful action upon unsupportive and inappropriate discourse and, to some extent, help people feel welcome into the community.

I struggle to find a balance between my views and the guidelines we follow. The guidelines are not always rules; there is often wiggle room, which results in the guidelines being rich in ambiguity.

It’s early days yet, so hopefully I’ll get better at it in time. Luckily, it seems I’m not the only one. Despite being part of the community for a very long time, I still need to get a feel for the community with this fresh new perspective.

As I’ve implied above, it’s an actual team and not a bunch of rogue moderators doing whatever they see fit. Admittedly, I’m not used to this. The site I ran some years ago was built, moderated, and maintained by pretty much just me, and it was tough. This went on for a couple of years.

In the end, I closed down old Bessie due partly to personal reasons—oops. I know for next time to keep my personal life well and truly out of a project like that. I also just felt as though it weren’t going anywhere; I was a fool.

The site was sort of successful, given it had no fancy domain and no money was put into advertising. The site had fans, regulars, and some people were somewhat obsessed with it. My amateur approach to web development and management was a good start.

Unfortunately, I can never resurrect the site or its community. Due to lost data on a HDD, the site’s entire backup was lost. This was a very sad day indeed. Two years of passion and work down the virtual drain. A lesson learned.

I’m hoping, with the smallest glimmer of hope, that the skills I take from this new “job” will allow me to build upon that foundation I laid down all those years ago. Maybe one day I’ll start something up again. Maybe it’ll be bigger and better.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!


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