Questions on SDMB mods

Out of curiosity I have some questions on being a moderator here.

[li]How does one become a moderator at the SDMB ?[/li]
[li]What are the qualifications one needs ?[/li]
[li]I am assuming this high status job is an unpaid position, am I correct ?[/li]
[li]It seems (to me at least) issues are dealt with rather quickly. Do you have shifts that are kept so always a couple mods are on duty ?[/li]
[li]Are you assigned by forums ?[/li]
[li]How much time does this take ?[/li]
[li]Are their levels of moderators? Moderators in training, junior moderator, etc., up to chief moderator.[/li][/ul]

I’d ask if you have met Cecil, but I know the answer to that already.

Btw, thanks for your job, and time, in keeping a civil and exceptionally interesting place here at the SDMB.

Moderator Action

Moving thread from General Questions to About This Message Board.

How does one become a moderator at the SDMB ?

Generally, we send messages privately to people that we think would be good for the job. You can also contact us if you want. Either way, there ends up being an application process that you have to go through, and Ed has final say on everything.

What are the qualifications one needs ?

You need to have a personality and temperament that is suited to moderation.

You need to have some reasonable computer skills. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a programmer or anything like that, but you do need to be able to figure out how to use the SDMB software. There are certain moderator controls that don’t work from phones, so you need a computer capable of running these.

You also need to be an active participant here. We expect our moderators to be actively involved in the forums that they moderate so that they know the culture and know how rules are typically enforced in that forum.

I am assuming this high status job is an unpaid position, am I correct ?

High status? Basically it’s a job where everyone tells you what you do wrong. If everything goes perfectly, no one complains, and that’s it. If you are looking for status and respect, this ain’t the job for you. :stuck_out_tongue:

You are correct though. Moderators here are not paid.

It seems (to me at least) issues are dealt with rather quickly. Do you have shifts that are kept so always a couple mods are on duty ?

No, we do not have assigned shifts. Generally speaking, we have enough moderators for each forum that someone can usually get to any reported issues in a timely manner.

Are you assigned by forums ?

Yes. You can see who is assigned to a forum by looking at the bottom of that forum’s page.
You can also see a full list of who is assigned to what forum here (which you can navigate to by going to the SDMB main index page then click “View forum leaders” down near the bottom):

How much time does this take ?

We probably handle somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 50 post reports per day total (that’s all forums, all mods, total). Some forums get more reports than others (those guys in Marketplace, just constant post reports, let me tell ya… just kidding :stuck_out_tongue: ). We also see a lot of things ourselves before they get reported.

I generally read every post in ATMB and the Marketplace. I don’t read every post in GQ but I glance over the list and I read a fair share of them. Banning a spammer only takes about 20 or 30 seconds or so. Reading through a train wreck of a thread top figure out where it’s all gone wrong and figuring out if you can fix it or if you need to close it or move it can take a lot more time. Hunting down socks can be a bit time consuming as well.

There are also behind the scenes discussions. Some days there’s almost nothing going on, some days there are issues that we all need to hash out.

So overall it does take a fair amount of time.

Are their levels of moderators? Moderators in training, junior moderator, etc., up to chief moderator.

No. We’re all equal in rank. There used to be an admin level (Tuba Diva, Marley, etc) but we no longer have anyone in that type of position. We all report directly to Ed now.

Equal in or equally? :smiley:

I am horribly sorry but I just couldn’t pass that one up

You try taking care of that squid some time and we’ll see how April-fresh you smell.


Except that the junior mod has to shovel out the hamster cages until the next one is hired.

Not it!

<laughs at Ivory Tower Denizen>


Me, again???

Until there’s a newbie.


What has always interested me is who or why anyone would volunteer to moderate the Pit.

Even Great Debates kind of gives me the shudders.

The Pit is actually probably one of the easier forums to moderate, since there isn’t very much that’s off-limits there.

That I would agree is the toughest forum to moderate.

Thanks Colibri for the answers.

I’m not interested and do not have the temperament for it, and know it. I was just curious on the questions asked. Thanks again.

I thought the retired moderators did all the shit shoveling?

We don’t gotta take that crap no more.

Do moderators ever guest-mod the occasional thread in someone else’s forum?

The need occasionally becomes apparent when a moderator participates as a poster in some thread, and the thread goes off the rails in some way that entangles the moderator.

I’ve seen it happen in scenarios something like this:

Some noisy obnoxious poster (usually a newbie) shows up in a thread, making obnoxious noise. Many posters, including a mod for that forum try futilely to engage the same in reasonable argument (good luck with that!). Obnoxious poster just gets more obnoxious and accuses that mod/poster of setting him up for a banning; while the mod/poster is, clearly, losing patience.

Finally, the guy gets banned, as everybody else saw coming, of course. But that just vindicates the ex-poster, who said all along you were just setting him up for a banning.

It’s just bad optics when that happens. This is the kind of case where that moderator should probably recuse himself from moderating that thread, and hand the job over to another mod.

Moderators don’t unilaterally ban people, except for socks and spammers, as far as I know. Usually someone has to accumulate a lot of warnings and one or two suspensions, then the moderators discuss whether to ban the person in their mod loop.

Anyway, most forums have more than one mod, so a mod who’s not involved in the discussion certainly can intervene if necessary.

Moderators have all of their powers everywhere on the board, so they can guest-moderate. And in really obvious cases, like banning spammers or one poster telling another “Eat shit, asshole”, or something like that, they do. But for most issues, they prefer to leave issues to the assigned moderators of that forum, because they have a better feel for the culture of the forum and just where the lines are drawn.

Similarly, they have the technical capability to ban people unilaterally. They only actually do that for obvious cases, but for the other cases, they’re limited only by their own mutual agreement, not by what the software allows. In fact, one moderator once accidentally banned the entire board (at least, he says it was an accident).

There have been times when mods have had to keep an eye on things when life intrudes on more than one mod at a time. There have also been times when things get heated and it’s best to step in and cool things off even if it isn’t your forum. Then there are other times when a new poster comes in like a troll tornado and it’s best to take care of it immediately. These occurrences are relatively rare and for the most part we stick to our own forums.

Except for spammers. Then it’s a race to the ban hammer.

You forgot:
the hide of a rhinoceros;
the patience of a saint, (and not St. Paul).

Huh. Never thought of it that way before.

My general feeling/empathy was simply for the the experience of reading and thinking–however dispassionately one can muster–all that negative spewage. (I just made that word up. I like it.) I, for one, would hate to do it, and wondered if that beat went to the newbie or short-straw puller or Unloved One-of-the-moment among the mods.

If any of Pit mods are reading: what’s it like?

I always feel like I have [del]to take a shower[/del] quickly read a few GQ threads after the few times I’ve been there.