Question for Discussion Board Moderators (not just SDMB)

We are considering opening some kind of Discussion/Message Board at the organisation where I work, for Members of the organisation to debate issues, etc. While we do not expect the uptake to be huge, we are wondering what sort of manpower we should expect to have to allocate to the controlling/monitoring/administration of these boards.

I know that there are many moderators of assorted boards/discussion groups here at the SDMB, and I was wondering if I could ask you how long you spend administering those boards, and how many active members your board has (approximately)? Also, if there are any of you who do this as part of your work, could you share your experiences of Moderation?

Thanking you in advance.

Grim
(SDMB Mods/Admins welcome as well…)

Gently bumped in the hopes of getting attention…

Grim :slight_smile:

It really depends on how many members there are. The more members there are, the more opportunities there might be for problems to occur - well, maybe not problems, but situations that would demand the attention of a moderator.

At my message board, I started with two moderators (including me) and then added a third when we hit 150 members, and then a fourth when we hit 200, on the notion that more people means more posts means higher posting frequency for the board means more potential situations in which help from the moderators would be needed.

How many people do you think will be regularly accessing the forum? That’s the main thing that will affect the performance (obviously).

My board has around 350 active users at the moment. Luckily there’s usually only about 20-40 of 'em on there at a time, or I’d be paying out the wazoo. :smiley: The main thing I have to deal with is the size of the database itself, which is about 600 megs (that’s for about 650,000 messages). If you plan on allowing the board to get pretty big, you’ll need the RAM and the HD space in the server to handle it. Of course, you can always prune off old messages to avoid this.

As far as moderators are concerned, I currently have five or six IIRC. They actually don’t do that much though; mainly just movings posts when they’re put in the wrong place.

If this is for a business, is moderation really going to be an issue? I can’t imagine any of the stuffed shirts at my office posting something controversial with their names on it. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the purpose though.

Give us some more details, and keep the questions coming. :smiley:

Yeah, if it’s for your workplace, I’d imagine that people won’t be posting anonymously, and people will know each other fairly well. That should cut way down on the trollery and assholishness.

Third the workplace comment.

Making the board text-only is effective for storage issues and also monkeybusiness issues.

It is work related, but the people posting will be unknown to me - I work for the licencing body for a profession here in the UK, and the boards would be for members of the profession (of which there are currently just over 20,000, of which 13,000 are active within the UK) to discuss issues relating to the profession and its governance. Involvement in the governace of the profession by its members is traditionally quite low, with about 12% voting in the recent Council elections, so we really have no idea how many will get involved. Recently, we offered members the chance to sign up for a monthly email, and only 40 have done so…

Thanks for the comments folks, keep them coming!!!

Grim

I administer a board for the local underground music scene with about 1200 users (including socks) and ~ 150000 posts over the past year. It’s been running in various forms for more than four years, through crashes and hackings, so I put the total number of posts, all time, at about twice that.

I’ve got four moderators in addition to myself, and it’s usually plenty. I’ll admit to emulating the rules of the SDMB, but I’m a little less strict. I’m hard and fast about porn, plagarism, and actual acts of piracy (driectly trading warez, for instance), but significantly less so about other aspects; discussions about P2P, for instance, are allowed, and while multiple usernames are prohibited, I don’t get all bent out of shape if somebody forgets their password and registers a new one unless its an act of deliberate deception.

I’ve had to permanently ban three people over the past year, for repeated flagrant violations of the rules. One of them tracked down my home number and made harassing calls for about a week, demanding to be let back on, until I threatened legal action. Another one started sending fake complaints to my employer and otherwise badmouthing me. Luckily for me, these two guys are generally well known as complete assholes, so nobody really takes them seriously.

My site is a hobby, so I probably spend more time tweaking my scripts (phpBB) and otherwise messing around with it than most people. My databse is currently running at about 100MB and I’m using about 7GB of bandwidth per month.

If you’ve got any specific technical questions about doing it, I’ll do my best to answer. It can be either an enormous time suck or an efficient way to build a community and foster discussion, depending on how you approach it.

If they are members, give each their own account. That way you know who writes what & you won’t need much moderator action that way. When its open to anyone, thats when you get weirdos posting anything they want & you need more mods.

Generally it does not take long to read through what’s been posted since you last reviewed the board – I try to do the three forums I moderate over on the Pizza Parlor at least once a day, and it takes less than an hour to skim through the messages. When I want to respond as a poster, that’s additional time, but I can count on the fingers of two hands the number of times I’ve had to “put on my Mod Hat.”

Key, I think, is to have clearcut rules on what may and may not be said and to abide by them, not literalistically, but fairly closely with an eye to “heading off trouble at the pass.” I had, for example, an inadvertent breaking of a rule in which, in compassion toward a third party, somebody warned about another member which she saw as abrasive towards both herself and the third party – by name. This violated a rule against ad hominem negative remarks. Leaving the rest of the post alone, I merely deleted the sentence in which the abrasive person was named, and explained why I had edited in an italicized note at the foot of the post. It was obvious that this was not an attack on the allegedly abrasive member but rather a gesture of kindness towards the newer third-party poster, and so I didn’t even condemn – just pointed out where the error in judgment had been, and that I’d removed it.

Expect the board to start slow, but persevere – most professional people are only too glad to enter into discussions about their professional area of expertise, once they realize they can. You may want to “stimulate” by coming up with an OP or two that asks leading questions, and perhaps solicit a couple of people to start responding to them, to get the ball rolling.

You are stepping out into the unknown, here, of course. Every board develops a different personality and whether it becomes an open free-for-all or an incestuous clique is hard to predict.

I believe that different kinds of Forums require differents sets of rules tailored to the community, topics, and intent of the forum. If you expect the discussions to become heated, you can look over the guidelines that I use in Fathom’s Grand Forum (to borrow, reject or improve upon, of course). (These guidelines are above and beyond the general no-spam/no-plagiarism/etc. rules for Fathom. They were my creation, so no one else can be blamed for them, although Opal has not yet asked me to change them.)