When you create an online community, you’re inviting people into your space and giving them a chance to talk about topics they care about in a friendly and supportive environment. But if you want this environment to be truly safe and encouraging, you need someone who can keep an eye on the conversations that happen there—someone who can step in when things start getting heated and ensure everyone stays respectful of each other’s feelings.
This is where community moderation comes in.
Moderation is a crucial part of any thriving online community. It’s the backbone of what makes communities welcoming, safe, and positive spaces for everyone to participate in.
This is why last year, we launched our first-ever moderator program in the CMX Community: we call them Communiteers!
As we’re welcoming new Communiteers this year, we’ve put together a guide about community moderation to help you better understand what it is and why it’s so important. Read on to learn about how moderation benefits your community and how you can become a more effective moderator.
What Is Community Moderation?
Community moderation is the process of managing a community. It’s the way to create an environment that encourages and supports all members of your community. This can include moderating discussions to protect people from harm, preserve the value of your community, and make sure that everyone has an equal chance to be heard.
It’s important to remember that moderation isn’t just about managing bad behavior—it’s also about fostering good behavior. A well-moderated community will create a safe space where members feel welcome, supported, and respected without fear of being judged by others in the group.
What Is the Role of a Community Moderator?
Community Moderators are the eyes, ears, and voices of a community. They’re both a part of the community and apart from it—with a view into how things run on both sides. Because of this unique perspective, they often become quite invested in helping others succeed within their communities. That’s why these individuals are so valuable to any community.
Community moderators can be found in many different spaces online: on Reddit, Facebook groups, Slack channels, Discord servers, and even private forums. In each case, they are the first point of contact for many online communities. They support new users to get acquainted with the space and help old users stay in touch with what’s happening.
Most importantly, they ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard and make their voice heard. Community moderators are also often the first line of defense against bad actors. They can help to identify those users and resolve the conflict, which helps to prevent abuse and harassment from spreading.
Overall, moderators act as an extension of your brand—they represent its values and enforce them for others in the community. They are the backbone of any online community and should be acknowledged for all they do!
Why Is Community Moderation Important?
Community Moderation truly helps your community thrive.
In order to make your community successful, you need someone and/or some people to help answer questions in our community, share valuable resources, and help other members find answers. They are able to welcome new members, continue with rituals your community has created, and facilitate engaging discussions with your members. In essence, community moderation maintains the community.
Most importantly, community moderations give valuable feedback to help shape the overall community experience.
Tips and Best Practices for Community Moderators
Review Your Community Guidelines and Take Action
As a new moderator, it’s important to review the community guidelines and establish a code of conduct at the very beginning. You can use these guidelines as a starting point for creating rules that encourage the kind of behavior you want out of your members.
When creating your community guidelines, consider what behaviors you want to see in the community and make these expectations clear. You should also consider how to handle violations of these guidelines. It’s critical to have a clear process in place so that everyone understands what happens when they break the rules.
Make sure the community guidelines are clear, concise, and easy to read. It’s also important to keep in mind that your policies have to be revisited as often as necessary to keep them up-to-date with your community’s needs.
Once you’ve established a code of conduct, introduce it to your members and explain why it’s essential. You can do this by posting on the community page or in a blog post about your community.
If you’re not sure how to start, check out our article about writing community guidelines you can stick to for some helpful tips.
As a community moderator, you’re likely to encounter many different types of feedback. Some of it will be positive, and others not so much.
And while it can be difficult to hear negative feedback—remember that not everyone has the same perspective, so try to listen and embrace all comments.
The most important thing is that you stay open-minded and open-hearted. If someone tells you something is bothering them about your community, try to listen to what they have to say without getting defensive or angry. They might have a valid point, and if you listen to their feedback, it could help you make your community better!
However, if you feel like the feedback is unfair, or if you are having a hard time hearing it, try to remember that people have different perspectives and points of view. They may not see things in the same way as you do. You can also ask them why they feel this way; maybe that will help open up a dialogue between you two where you can both learn something new.
So if you want to be a thriving community moderator, you need to learn how to accept all kinds of feedback from others. It’s important not only because it shows that you are listening but also helps people feel heard and valued.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Being a community moderator is a tough role and requires an enormous amount of empathy and compassion.
Despite your best efforts to create a harassment-free community, you may face conflict from time to time. When dealing with these situations, it’s important not to take things personally. Community managers are often the first point of contact for people who have issues with the community. As such, it’s essential to remain calm and professional when responding to these situations.
“I think the best advice for moderators is being able not to take things personally. Many community members can get annoyed or angry and often use the community as somewhere to vent. Being able to remove any personal emotion or feeling goes a long way in terms of doing what needs to be done but also not having any baggage after work ends with any Community users. ” – Nick Quinn, Community Moderator at Shopify
If you find yourself getting upset by a user’s behavior, take some time away from the situation by taking a short walk or doing another activity that helps you calm down before returning to take care of the problem. Remember that you’re there to serve as a neutral party who helps users resolve their differences so everyone can get along better.
If a user is causing problems for others, consider restricting their access to the community for a short period. This will prevent them from being able to cause any more harm while you work with them on resolving the problem.
Drive Engagement to Spark Interesting Discussions
It’s easy to think of community moderation as just the act of flagging inappropriate messages. But remember that moderation is also about encouraging members to participate in thoughtful ways.
Think of it this way: Community moderation isn’t just about removing content; it’s also about promoting it!
One way to do this is by posting interesting questions or comments yourself. For example, in the CMX Community, our moderators spark healthy discussions by asking questions like:
There are also other ways you can drive engagement. For example, if someone posts a question and no one answers it, they might feel like they’re not being heard—and maybe even feel like they don’t belong in the community. That’s why when you see a post like this, you can jump in and share your opinion or ask for more details about what they are talking about. This will encourage other members of your community—people who might have otherwise stayed silent— to engage in the discussion!
By participating in such conversations, you’re actually building a stronger sense of trust and loyalty with other community members. And because you’re there to support and guide them, they’ll feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, which means your community will grow even bigger.
Be Prepared To Have The Right Answers To Common Questions
As a community moderator, you are the first line of defense against members’ concerns and questions. This responsibility may be one of your most important roles as a moderator.
This means that sometimes you will be asked the same question over and over again—and that’s okay! In fact, it’s great as it means that your members are comfortable asking questions and seeking guidance.
If you get asked many of the same questions by your community members, it’s essential to have prepared answers. One way to handle frequently asked questions is by creating a FAQ or list and then displaying it in your community.
“As a person who is sometimes repeatedly exposed to the same questions and discussion points, a tip I use is to have a folder (word or excel sheet) categorized with some links to articles, blogs, or other posts, that help answer a question or enrich a discussion. I understand that it is time-consuming and not everyone enjoys creating files and folders, so another way to do this is if your community allows for posts/discussions to be saved. For example, Slack allows to save threads, and so do LinkedIn and Facebook, among others. Although you would have to go through them to find a particular post, it is a quick and easy way to organize your content for easier access and turnaround to reply to your members.” – Jennifer Serrat, Coach Community Manager at CoachHub and Community Moderator at CMX
The more prepared you are for common questions, your community will be better off. Plus, It’ll help you feel confident in your responses and make it easier for you to provide accurate and helpful answers!
Meet Our Communiteers!
Last year, we created the CMX Community moderator program.
We call them Communiteers.
Over the past year, they’ve been volunteering their time to make sure that the CMX Community is a safe, supportive place for members to get together, share resources, post questions, and answers, and connect with other people who are passionate about community building. The program empowers our community members to become more involved within the CMX spaces, and we couldn’t do it without you!
We’re very excited to announce our new Slack and Facebook Moderators, who will be joining us as we continue this program into its second year. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming them:
Amarachi Crystal Omereife
Location: Ireland, UK
Arun Teja Godavarthi
Thank You, CMX Community!
The CMX community is made up of some of the most amazing people in the world, and we’re always blown away by how much they love helping each other out. We wanted to take a minute to thank all of our members who contributed their time, knowledge, and experience to write this article.
We couldn’t have done it without all of you!
A special thank you goes out to these fantastic community managers and moderators who took the time to share their best practices and tips for the community moderators:
Krystal Beachum – CMX Community Engagement Manager
Jennifer Serrat – Coach Community Manager at CoachHub and Community Moderator at CMX
Nick Quinn – Community Moderator at Shopify