A forum is an online discussion site that is great for users to start and carry on conversations amongst other members of the community on a particular subject or niche. For such an environment, how important is choosing the right forum staff?
Threaded discussions provide many advantages to the community as well as the forum. They allow users to learn from other members; share new ideas, lessons learned, proven practices, insights, and practical suggestions. Furthermore, for certain niches and subjects, forums can be a great location to ask and answer questions, collaborate through conversations and interactions, build on each other’s thoughts and keep themselves informed on emerging developments.
Forum management may be a tough nut to crack, especially when you aren’t too familiar with the technical aspects of forums, coping with day-to-day SPAM, members issues and so much more. This is where an effective staff team can come into work. They can help reduce the workload and increase efficiency quite a bit. If the forum staff are knowledgeable in their niche, it might help members extract some useful knowledge from them and allow them to take part in discussions with other knowledgable users.
When is it the right time to choose a staff team?
It can depend on a few factors – how many members are there? How much content do you get per day? As for me, I always like to appoint a moderator for my forum to help me focus on administrator duties and not have to spend time dealing with spam or badly behaving members.
However, not everyone likes to hire a moderator for forums with low levels of content and activity. This is down to two reasons:
- Nothing to moderate. So, the person you appoint won’t have any work at all other than simply helping to create content.
- If you are looking at hiring from within, you won’t be able to find any gems from within just 100 members (sometimes even less).
The actual answer could differ forum to forum, niche to niche. However, a common answer would be: You need a “team” when you have around 100+ members, 5000+ posts, and when you feel that it won’t be easy for you to deal with all forum activities alone.
When you feel the need to hire a couple of persons to do moderation jobs for the forum, you have to ensure that you pick up the appropriate ones. It’s a vital step for the success of any community. You don’t need to, neither should you, keep on shuffling your moderators – hiring and firing them. That sets a bad example in front of the community. A user that has been chosen to moderate a community should be given enough opportunities to do the job. If you are seeing a continuous lag in interest from their side, you should attempt to communicate the message. If they don’t reply, or reply negatively, then you should start to think of replacements.
How should you pick up staff team members?
Well, there are two broad aspects of moderating a forum – one is having technical knowledge of the forum software being used and the other is being knowledgeable in the niche of the forum in order to help members.
- Technical knowledge – You may not want to hand over a moderation job to someone who doesn’t know how to edit, delete, move, merge threads, ban users, issue infractions and complete other basic moderation jobs. That said, it’s not hard to learn them in some time, quite easy actually but that should be up to you.
- Knowledge in the niche – Now this is one aspect which can help separate your forum from others. If you got knowledgeable moderators who can produce quality content on a regular basis, this can help out members if they have any questions or issues.
How to regulate them to make sure the forum runs smooth.
As soon as you’ve chosen your team, you need to control it to guarantee that things run smoothly. Your rules and expectations should be clear to everyone that joins as a staff member in order to prevent confusing situations and ensure unbiased decisions are taken in every possible situation.
You should let everyone follow their own style, provided that they are within the rules of the forum. You don’t want to tick off members because of moderators showing double standards (knowingly or unknowingly). Furthermore, you should never be worried about discussing any new ideas with your staff members to keep them involved as they may have great ideas to assist you.
As your forum community grows and more people take part in the discussion, you will most likely be amazed by the things people say. You are the host, so the responsibility for keeping a functional environment falls to you. As such, an effective staff team can assist you with your responsibilities and ensure that the right environment on your forum is preserved. Moreover, a good moderating strategy will help that goal immensely.
Have you managed to find the right forum staff for your community?