Advice for moderators
We all know that moderation can be a tough task. Generally there is a lot of emotional issues involved and it's easy to act too fast and end up regretting an action.
Some simple tips for good moderation.
Always post clear and understandable rules on your forum
It is key for members to understand your moderation actions for them to have a set of rules to read that they can understand why you did what you did. Often when a member is banned even if your other members do not like them they will question your actions. It is important that they have something to refer to so that they can feel better and understand your actions.
Consider where the user was coming from who posted the material that broke the rule. Did the offending member not know that they were breaking the rules? or were their actions blatant.
If a member simply doesn't know the rules then it is best to give them a first warning. Edit, Delete, or Move the post and then send a pm to the user with a link to your forum's rules. What this does is ensure to you and your staff that the user has been given a chance to learn the rules and still keeps things in compliance.
If a member did it blatantly then perhaps it is best to consider that member's contributions. If they don't contribute positively enough to your forum then it may be worth it to use the fullest extent of punishment that your rules system allows.
Something else that is very important to consider is do you know the rules of your own forum well enough?
Before banning a member because they have done something shocking be sure to read over your own rules, be prepared to quote them to your members in case any of them question your actions. Often one of the things that gets your members to read the rules the quickest is when they thing a moderation action has been taken that there was not a rule set up to cover.
Always let your members know what you are doing
People gossip less when they are informed. Typically after a moderation situation has been taken care of there are no traces for users to judge for themselves. It is important to explain to everyone that the user who has been punished has been punished for a reason and that you are complying with the rules that you set forth. This can go a long way with keeping loyalty to the board. Members of internet communities are much like members of any other community. They like to be able to judge if they are within the guidelines or not. If they have no way to understand why other members were punished they may fear that it was out of an irrational behavior that they could be a victim of later.
Pick your battles
Sometimes it is not worth it to be too harsh on first time offenders... even if they do know the rules. Perhaps they just were having a bad day or acted out of passion. If you clamp down on all events things may get out of hand when the important events really need the clamping.
this article written by CarlF for advice on moderating feel free to contact me directly here on AEF or on my own site