Best Practices, Tools, and Guidelines for Moderators of Online Groups

Moderation is one of the most difficult tasks an online community manager can have. Today, we explore 10 community moderation best practices to ensure the quality of your online group.

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Moderation is one of the most difficult tasks an online community manager can have. Not only do you need to know all the technical aspects of running an Internet forum. But you also need to know how to maintain human relationships. Managing online communities is not a piece of cake. However, it’s fun if you choose the right tools for the job!

As online communities continue to grow, so does the need for people to moderate them. Whether you are already a moderator or are just thinking about starting, we have put together this toolkit to help you succeed in your role. We hope that by sharing our knowledge, you can build and maintain an engaged online community.

What Does Community Moderation Mean in Online Groups?

Building a safe, friendly, and welcoming environment is key to increasing member engagement. Moderating user-generated content and taking the necessary steps to reduce inappropriate content works wonders to increase community engagement.

That’s why moderation efforts are essential for any community. And as a moderator, you need to be concerned about the number of posts or comments that are deemed offensive by other members.

What Is a Moderator?

Moderators make sure that other members follow the community’s set of rules and guidelines. Depending on each platform –whether it’s Facebook, Discord, or Slack– group moderators will have different tasks. But the essence of their role is always the same: assure that the community stays a friendly and safe space for everyone.

Therefore, moderators will need community builders to set a clear and precise set of rules. And while the moderator will need to know them perfectly, members will also need to have them in mind 🙌

Free template of basic Discord server rules 👉 copy and paste

This will avoid further issues both among the community members and between the members and the one who carries out moderation. On the other hand, an unclear and ambiguous set of rules will generate problems in the community.

Community Moderation Guidelines, Tips, and Best Practices

What are the best practices for being a moderator?

Although every community is different, there is a set of rules that applies to all online forums and communities:

  1. Assure That the Community Stays Chaos-Free
  2. Be Helpful to Members
  3. Evaluate Situations Critically
  4. Moderators Are Role Models
  5. Be Friendly, Approachable & Transparent
  6. Create a Community Code of Conduct
  7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ban Members
  8. Use Private Messages
  9. Focus on Issues That Affect Many Members at Once
  10. Be Consistent!

#1: Assure That the Community Stays Chaos-Free

Moderators are the ones responsible for assuring that the community stays chaos-free. That’s why having a well-chosen moderator will help your community be more ordered. This will also help you attract new members to your online group.

#2: Be Helpful to Members

🤝 Moderators should offer community members helpful rule explanations, tips, and advice. They should always do so calmly and politely.

#3: Evaluate Situations Critically

Moderators are role models for the rest of the group members. As a founder, you should encourage them to practice critical thinking. This will give them the capacity to understand situations with the intent of reaching a reasonable conclusion 🧠

As they do this, they’ll be able to understand when they should punish users swiftly. As well as when they should adjust or clarify rules to allow greater flexibility in the future.

#4: Moderators Are Role Models

👩‍💻 Just because moderators are tasked with enforcing rules it doesn’t mean they can’t engage in chat as normal users do. Moderators engaging in chat often help to establish their role as members of the community. Therefore, moderators should strive for server members to be fond of them. Yet respected in their positions of authority.

Related 👉 Growing a Community Organically [Interview With David Berkowitz]

#5: Be Friendly, Approachable & Transparent

When people see that you care about them, they’ll be more likely to contribute positively to the discussion. Or even share their ideas with others in the community.

#6: Create a Community Code of Conduct

As we mentioned earlier, a code of conduct is a set of rules that governs how members should behave while being part of the group. It’s important to have a code of conduct as it helps set expectations for what’s acceptable behavior in the community. Also, it helps define what actions are considered violations of those expectations.

Related 👉 How to Make Online Communities More Accessible

#7: Don’t Be Afraid to Ban Members

As a moderator, you have the power to ban people who are abusive or disruptive. This can be an unpopular move with some members. However, as the one in charge of community moderation, one of your main responsibilities is to protect the rest of the group from troublemakers.

#8: Use Private Messages

Use private messages instead of public posts when possible. If someone asks for help or advice about their problem, take it to private messages or DMs. So it doesn’t disrupt other members’ conversations

Related 👉 Is Your Community a Safe Place?

#9: Focus on Issues That Affect Many Members at Once

Focus on issues that affect many members at once rather than individual problems between two people. If someone has a problem with another member, use private messages to try to resolve their issue before escalating it into an argument between them.

Otherwise, you’ll just end up having to deal with two people fighting over one person’s behavior instead of dealing with one person’s behavior directly!

#10: Be Consistent!

Members need to know what’s expected of them so they can behave accordingly. If you don’t enforce the rules consistently then it becomes impossible for new members to learn what is and isn’t acceptable. If you allow people to break the rules then they’ll do so whenever it suits them. And they’ll resent being told off when it happens.

Best Community Moderation Tools

While there are dozens of tools available for moderators to use, it’s important that you choose the right ones for your needs. Moderators need tools that help them build trust among members.

Moderation apps allow moderators to view all comments made by participants in real-time. These apps can also filter out spam comments so they don’t show up in the discussion thread. Some of these apps include Disqus Comment Moderator and Disqus Comments Moderator Pro (for WordPress).

There are also specific tools for each social media platform. Meta, for example, has recently announced new features for Facebook Group moderators to battle misinformation and fake news. In addition, many of these tools allow moderators to quickly respond to user posts and comments while they’re taking place.

The Social Media Geekout 🚀

The Social Media Geekout is a free community for social media managers which has accumulated over 26K members over the years. It works in a Facebook group

There are also user-reporting tools that help community members report inappropriate behavior by clicking on a flag or reporting button next to a post or comment. This lets moderators review posts quickly and take action if necessary without having to search through old posts manually.

Victoria Mortimer

Victoria Mortimer

I'm a journalist with a Social Communication degree, community manager, and content creator with over five years of experience. Now, I'm working as an independent writer passionate about community building, entrepreneurship, and social media.