?H??%Then Arnold von Winkelried was merely a member and Uncle Beer was still a nephew…

This deals (kind of) with a few questions that I’ve wondered about for a while.

  1. Were moderators once humble members?

  2. Who decided that would make become moderators? And after how long?

  3. Most forums have more than one moderator. Does this mean someone is reading every post? Do they work in shifts? Do they get paid?! Is it working from home?

Any help would be greatly appreciated TubaDiva?!



  1. Moderators were never humble.

  2. The Illuminati decides. Once youre in, youre in for life.

  3. They do work in shifts-some are night owls. But when they want to take a break(you never know when) you can post anything and they’ll never notice. :wink:

Many of these questions have already been covered over the years, but I’ll answer as best I can (you might want to do a search for “moderators” in this forum).

Some of the moderators were members at one point, but many have been moderators since the message board was created, having served in a similar capacity on the old AOL board.

Moderators are generally chosen by the administrators, espcially Tuba and Lynn and Ed. Moderators can be chosen after they’ve been here for eons or for only a short while - it’s subjective.

Moderators don’t necessarily read every post, although I’m sure they try to get to as many as possible. A moderator is responsible for his or her own forum, so that limits what they need to read. They’ll check in on a thread from time to time, to see if any moderator presence is warranted. Also, members can click the “report this post to a moderator” link, which emails the moderators for that forum.

Moderators don’t necessarily work a shift. They will provide a time when they’re available, and they’re then expected to “patrol” their forum at that time. If they can’t be online at that time, they notify an admin.

No, they’re not paid. This is all strictly volunteer. Makes you appreciate it all the more.

Answering in order:

I hope we are ALL humble members, we live to serve, after all.

Moderators are chosen after a long and arduous vetting process involving Ed Zotti, the staff, and the potential moderator in a veritable trial by ordeal. Only the strong survive.

Seriously, it is a long process and the mods have a voice in it; their input is solicited and appreciated.

Mostly moderator candidates are judged by themselves, what they say on the boards, what they say in the application. We expect a good moderator candidate to be a participating member of the board with some solid history behind them, proven smarts, patience of Job, nerves of steel, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, etc.

I can tell you that the things that knock out many candidates are basic problems. This includes lack of grammar and spelling skills, non- or negative involvement on the board, and unfamiliarity with the columns and other Straight Dope writ. “I just think it would be cool” is not reason enough to be a moderator. “Because I want to have the power of life and death over others” is not a good selling point either. “Who’s Cecil?” will guarantee the application gets made into paper airplanes.

Ed is the final arbiter. (Cecil can’t be bothered.)

No promise that we can read every post, but we do try to keep on top of things as much as possible. We have multiple moderators in the more heavily traveled areas and we all pitch in and do what we can throughout the board. That being said, it’s impossible for any one of to read every post in every forum, or even every post in the bigger areas; just too much traffic and we all have lives. Well, most of us.

The work of moderating is not compensated by mere money but in the glow of satisfaction that comes from doing good and making the world just a tad less ignorant. That goes a long way. You also get a coffee mug and our heartiest best wishes. The Reader throws us an occasional calendar.

While it could easily become a life’s work, moderating the board is an extra activity all of us have besides whatever we do to earn a living. We fit it in wherever we can; some can read from work, others from home, sometimes it changes depending on circumstances. We do our best. We do expect it to be an investment of time and effort on your part.

Applications for becoming a moderator are available from me, just send an email to start the adventure. Remember, many are called, few are chosen.

Hope this answers all your questions.

your humble TubaDiva

BTW, dantheman, however well motivated he may be, is not a moderator.

While I always appreciate it highly when Dopers do it for themselves – and more often than not you do a wonderful job of and I love you for it – if asked specifically I really do prefer to answer.

your humble TubaDiva

No! Definitely am not. See? It says “member” over there.


Whoa. whoa, whoa … they’re giving out calendars now?

Lucky stiffs.

Moderators also develop a bit of an instinct for problem posts. OK, so some times it’s a lot easier than “instinct”. If there’s a thread titled “Where can I buy angel dust”, for instance, you can bet that the mods are going to find time to read that particular one. They also get a great deal of help from various members of the board, via “report this post”, other e-mails, instant messages, telepathy, and the like (if you think I’m kidding on that last one, then you’ve never seen Coldfire’s personal network of Dopers he knows intimately). If there’s a problem, it doesn’t take long for it to come to light.

And it is possible to step down from moderatordom. JillGat and I are both former moderators, and I believe that Nickrz stepped down as well, way back in the distant past (he was a GQ moderator back when I joined).

“You can step down any time you like, but you can never leave!”


TubaDiva forgot about the goat…

Actually, only TubaDiva and Eutychus and I were moderators at the old AOL board. I wouldn’t call that “many”.

No, any moderator up for consideration is discussed by ALL moderators and administrators who are active on the board, and as TubaDiva says, Ed Zotti has the final say. I don’t believe that we’ve EVER chosen a moderator who has been around for only a short while. All candidates MUST be approved by all of the moderators/admins.

Nope. If a moderator (or administrator) is going to be away from the message boards for any length of time (say, if a birth is taking place, or an intensive job search), then that person emails the rest of us, so we can patrol that forum.

We don’t get paid at all, except for a couple of tokens…I get a Chicago Reader calendar each year, and my Straight Dope Staff Mug is one of my most prized possessions.

We don’t go to work at the Chicago Reader. That would be a heck of a commute for Coldfire, for instance. I work at home, and I believe that most of the other mods do as well.

Hmmmm, I forgot that jkfabian was a moderator at the old AOL board, too.

I can honestly say that I’m honoured, as a newbie who hasn’t even reached 100 posts yet, to have received such a comprehensive answer from such important people (moderators and administrators)!

Thank you all.


Eh, semantics. Four of you, if you include jkfabian. Four can be many!

Well, if only four of you came over from the old AOL board, did you start this one with only four moderators? Or did you add people who had been on the AOL board? Also, “a short while” is awfully relative - MEBuckner had only been around a year before he was modified.

Isn’t that what I said?

Yup. I just got the 1999 edition in the mail last week.

Count your blessings. They sent me a carton of 'em.

[sub]First prize – a week in scenic Altoona, Pennsylvania!

Second prize is TWO weeks in scenic Altoona, Pennsylvania…[/sub]

I was a poster on the old AOL board. Around about the time AOL dropped the SDMB and the boards migrated to the Web, I sort of dropped out, more from a lack of time than anything else. Later on, my circumstances changed again J-just one little post! That’s all! I’ll just post to this one thread–I can quit anytime I want! and I joined up again in August 2000. It was actually about 16 months before my apotheosi–ah, before they suckered–er, before I was made a moderator.

You young whipersnappers go on and on about the “hamsters”. Back in the Good Old Days, we only had two forums (one for “Comments on Cecil’s Columns” and one for everything else)–and we were happy to have 'em, too! Every time you posted a new reply it started a new thread! And there was this weird pushpin background! And we had to walk six miles through the snow just to post…

Lynn, I was too a moderator on the aol board. I was there before you na na na na na. Now somebody hand me another Carib beer - I’m out on the veranda and can’t reach the frig.

Jill my dear, memory is a tricky thing.

You were a chat host at our old home, for many a pleasant late Sunday night.

But I don’t recall you modding the old AOL boards. Lynn is correct. JKFabian (fabled in song and story) was the first board moderator and I joined her . . . hmm, a couple of months after the boards opened. She moved on to other things and Lynn and Euty came over after that.

You didn’t start message board modding for us 'til the UBB days. And that wuz here. I was, as I am now, administrator in both places, I think I know who I granted rights to.

If you also recall, you and I met up in the same Straight Dope chat room . . . waiting on Cecil to get there, back before the adventure began. Ain’t nothing before us but perhaps the words “In the beginning . . .” Uttered by Cecil before he turned on the lights.

Thems were the days, my friend.

your humble TubaDiva

Fight! Fight! Fight!

[pulls up no chair whatsoever]


Hey, don’t knock Altoona! Where else in the world can you see the historic Horseshoe Curve? And the… um… And the historic Horseshoe Curve?

[sub]I’m sure there’s something else in Altoona[/sub]
And as for how new people can be to be modded, I was here for only about eight months before I got the tap on the shoulder, and I seem to remember Noodles being even less. It really does depend on what you mean by “a short while”.