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Staff Tasks / Expectations (mods, admins, etc)

Discussion in 'Manage your Site' started by Floris, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. Floris

    Floris I'm just me :) Hi. Staff Member

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    Staff Tasks / Expectations (mods, admins, etc)

    When building a community every admin knows by nature what they want out of their team. And in essence it is simple: I as admin can't do everything, despite that I want to. So while I manage marketing, advertising, hosting, licenses, the bills and revenue, my teams of admins can manage the forums structure and usergroups and documentation, and the super mods can manage the forums and users, and help the admins out. And the mods moderate the communities they're mod of. This way it's teamwork, more stuff can get done. While the admins keep the place running. The admins/mods can keep the place running organized, and the mods can keep the place clean and momentum going.

    As admin you know "this is spam, that needs an answer, and this title needs editing, that forum needs to be move there, etc" but you have to learn to let go and focus on your own tasks.

    But how do you tell your admins THAT is what they should find and do, and the super mods to relay the info from the mods to the admins, and discuss it. And that the mods have to do this and that and what not and relay the info from the members?

    It's already getting more complicated! But here we go ..

    Basically review it from the other way around:

    As a guest you browse the site. This means you want to do something. Expect this, and ensure your site can offer that. A browsing and finding of content. And provoke guests to register and participate.

    So the team has to regularly open the site as a guest and browse around. Review the header, footer, sidebar, the frontpage, the content, the registration page, etc. And if something comes to mind: Note it down.

    This is a task you can write down in the project manager for your staff. But also in your 'application documentation' for when you are looking for new staff members; so you can offer them their responsibilities. In other words: you can figure out what you expect, and you can provide them with info beforehand about what you expect from your staff!

    Another example.

    Once a member has signed up and logged in, what can they do? Manage their account? Participate in existing conversations? Create new ones? Are there any issues, clutter, or usability issues? Time to check this out. Or wait, perhaps there are members posting in the site feedback forum.

    So as admin you have to inform your staff with a task, to review the site feedback forum, discuss internally this feedback and report back to the super mods and admins that there might be an issue, or that certain feedback requires attention. And of course, update the application documentation again with this expectation. Together with a second task to review the site as a member, just like earlier as a guest. On a regular basis.

    So, guests might browse and not sign up, or sign up. And either situation has to be reviewed, and signed up users need to be provoked to become returning members that become active. And active ones to be regulars that become premium members. And when we listen to the posts by guests and users we know there might be things that need attention. The mods can listen for this, test it, report back to the super mods who review this. And help the mods answer user questions. While they all together post new tasks for the admins who can actually fix it. Bigger decisions can be relayed back to the site owner who can give a green light.

    Well, this is just an example, revamp that chain of command approach to your liking of course.

    But these examples show you that there's more to do for a mod and supr mod and admin than just 'fight spam and post on site'. And it should be clear to the site owner, the team, and the members using the site.

    Personally I have always missed a feature for custom pages in vBulletin, that makes it easy to have internal and public documentation in a wiki style, like .. an advanced FAQ manager that comes with vB.

    So, let's make a list! What do you expect from your various staff members. Let's write it down as admins who run sites, and share our knowledge so we can review it internally, and share it with our own staff.

    The obvious would be:

    - Being a staff member is a privilege, not a right, nor a status to glow on. Site/forum rules, and staff rules apply; abuse of these privileges is not permitted.
    - It's desired to sign a non disclosure agreement, as certain information from private forums and communication, should remain private, now and in the future.
    - It's desired to disclose some personal details to the site owner. So in case of offline communication being required, he or she can contact you by address, phone, or personal email.
    - Moderators should keep forum momentum going, by posting on a (semi) regular basis, not overtaking conversations but supporting them. This is including, but not limited to, content writing for blogs, articles, sticky threads, announcements, documentation, and of course forum threads.
    - Moderators should be willing to work alone as well as with the other team members. Documentation writing is a group effort. Reviewing published articles, blogs, content is a group effort. Discussing internally reported users, posts, etc is a group effort (so the best appropriate decision can be made).
    - Moderators should be dedicating time on almost a daily basis to find 'this is a pressing matter' with the web site (think: mass spam, hacked, site not loading, users mass complaining, private forums being public, etc). So as a team we can spot and deal with pressing unforeseen matters.
    - Moderators should be dedicating time on a bi-daily basis to find content breaking the site/forum rules, including, but not limited to posts breaking the law, or spam posts. (And understand and know how to deal with them).
    - Moderators should know how to (soft) delete,- and/or move content, and select posts and delete them as spam (mass remove content from view and report user to akismet for spam, and ban user to prevent continues abuse'
    - Moderators should know that in case of doubt: they can always contact the super mods or admins online for advise to avoid 'oops, that went wrong' moments. If these questions arise, the admins should take notice and write documentation with visual step by step instructions.

    From guests with questions, to new members who need guidance, and regulars who provide feedback. There's enough data that mods and super mods will run into. They need to know what to do with it, who's responsible for what and take action, or escalate to someone above them (like an admin).

    And the other way around: Site owners should inform their admins (and discuss with them) about upcoming (short term schedule/roadmap) changes or actions, so it's not a surprise when the team gets informed. And once a team knows about it, and has had time internally to discuss it, stuff that is "written in stone" can be shared with the community. Think: url change, new host, downtime schedule due to maintenance or site move. Mergers, new documentation, new policies, site announcements , new notices or sticky threads, etc.

    Team members should realize that if they browse the site and go "ugh, I don't like seeing 25 smilies for a new post, that should be less" that <--- THAT should be added as feedback internally. Create a new feedback task so it can be discussed. And the consensus can become a new Task for the right person to deal with.

    Part of being staff is getting involved, so that includes sharing what's on your mind. The admins/siteowner should realize this is not 'i know better' or 'i am whining' behavior, but getting involved, caring, and putting things up for discussion.

    Ok, YOUR TURN.. write out everything that's NOW on your mind after reading this, that can help you and others improve the communication between the staff members on your site, currently, but help you prepare documentation for future applications. So it's more clear what is expected from staff, their responsibilities, and what isn't expected.
     
  2. Scalene

    Scalene OMG Member

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    Very nice! I agree about having a very well defined status/role structure. It will help you SO much in the long run.

    My BBS has had several problems which you didn't address - I was wondering if you'd mind making a comment or two about them?

    How do you handle moderators overstepping their bounds? For instance: moderating forums that aren't their own, getting in fights about what should be done in a certain situation, telling each other how to do their jobs, and things like that...

    At least once a week two moderators, a mod and a supermod, or a user and a mod will get into a stupid dispute which all boils down to a difference in opinion. Since my site is information based we like to have the most knowledgeable and experienced folks as moderators - unfortunately they don't always make the best mods...

    Also, how tight do you hold the chain of command? We always have stupid problems working their way up the chain of command until I have to deal with it. For instance: a mod applies a *possibly* unjust infraction. The user and the mod get into a fight about it until a supermod has to get involved. If the supermod says the user is right, the mod complains to the admin. If the supermod says the moderator was right, the user will demand that an admin get involved to "settle things once and for all." It seems that no matter what, I always have to get involved.

    I'm not sure if it's just the type of people that my site attracts or if it's a faulty system (my site does attract people who like to fight and argue... lots of ego issues). Any suggestions?

    Excellent article - I'll be taking a lot of this into mind!
     
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