how much staff at start?
Because of how quickly spammers can trash a site, I think that forums should have at the least 2 moderators in different time zones as Timerider said. It also helps with member retention when you're small to keep members active in helping out by becoming staff.
yeah I tried that once, its hard finding people in different time zones that would make it worthwhile.
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One should be enough at the very beginning. Really, as the admin, you should expect to do all the heavy lifting to get your forum off the ground. Moderators aren't realistically going to help you advertise etc. They're volunteers, so I never understand admins who think they're going to get some free labour to go beyond the call of moderating the site.
I'm a volunteer admin myself to be honest, but...I do most of the work on our current site. I do have one person helping me out with the social media side of things. Just to drop a post now and again. They don't do much, but it's something. I still make most of the posts myself. I take any help I can get.
When we started out, we had 3 admins and 7-8 super moderators, but their positions were more or less given purely because they were staff on the big forum before it got sold/destroyed. It was out of courtesy that we gave them positions on the new site, but in honesty, there wasn't much for them to do. Not many spammers show up on a new forum.
As many have said, start with yourself.
I'd only really add team members as my community became so large it was impossible to manage on my own anymore.
The issue is, even if you use only close friends or your best friends, they can still betray you, I've seen this happen so many times over petty arguments.
Always start new staff (even friends) on probation and only give them very limited powers. Rather than giving them edit post permission where they could still manually remove all text on multiple posts in your forums, only give them MOVE permission where any thread they believe should be edited or deleted can be moved to a private staff only forum for you to review yourself.
Then increase their abilities or powers from there.
I always start projects with just myself handling moderation duties, and seek help as I feel it is needed.
I've had one other moderator on Nerdface so far, but they didn't last long as they grew inactive due to school commitments, which is fair enough.
I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.