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What is a Forum Moderator?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 16, 2024
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A forum moderator oversees the communication activity of an Internet forum. He monitors the interchange of contributors and makes decisions regarding content and the direction of threads. Moving discussions from one section to another to keep topics organized is also a common job for a forum moderator.

If the tone of a forum becomes hostile or starts to move in the direction of personal attacks, the forum moderator usually has the discretion to lock the discussion to prevent heated, interchanges. He may also be able to hide discussions he deems unworthy of further discussion. Conversely, topics he feels deserve further examination can be posted indefinitely by the moderator even if they garner no comments.

Moderator duties are as diverse as the forum topics themselves. Some moderators are virtually invisible; they surface only when situations arise that do not seem likely to resolve themselves. Other forum moderators are always there, ready to intercede at the smallest hint of discourse. Public forum moderators often have to enforce many rules of conduct and decorum, as public contributors tend to communicate without abandon, which can sometimes upset other commenters.

Private forums linked to a website or group often operate a bit differently. The forum moderator is likely to be familiar with the members, and may be more lax in enforcing rules if he is aware of bantering members and their tones. Standards differ greatly in forums, and newcomers are advised to post with caution until they get the general feel of the forum's atmosphere. Regardless of the forum topic or ambiance, most prohibit the exchange of illegal or copyrighted materials and pornography and many shun swearing or using inappropriate language or images.

Moderators are sometimes encouraged to join in discussions, especially if they have expert experience or advice to contribute. Other forums prefer their moderators to remain totally objective and mainly serve as impartial enforcers. Occasionally a forum moderator will pose as a contributor to steer a discussion in another direction or offer input without fear of posing a conflict of interest.

In addition to acting as the parent or guardian of forum content, forum moderators are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of the forum in other ways. This requires knowledge of HTML and acuity at moving, merging, adding, and deleting text, graphics, and links. Contributors will often ask moderators to assist them with technical problems with site access and posting.

Supplementary duties of a forum moderator may include relocating discussions to more appropriate sections, closing or locking threads based on dwindling interest or lack of recent activity, editing posts for clarity or content, and deleting threads. Thread deletion can either be temporary or permanent, depending on the wishes of the forum moderator.

If an abusive contributor refuses to cease unacceptable behavior, the forum moderator usually has the discretion to ban the user. If the offender continues to post and eludes the ban, the moderator may opt to access the user's IP address. This enables the moderator to ban the address instead of banning the user by name or email address.

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Discussion Comments

By anon998987 — On Oct 03, 2017

Is there any way a moderator can make the speed different with a block? The forum I joined is the only place in which the speed to log on or move anywhere takes more than a minute and the access arrow goes backward before finally kicking in! Thanks.

By anon998657 — On Jul 26, 2017

Moderators are supposed to moderate, not use power for no other reason than a petty rule infraction. Strict adherence to petty rules shows remarkable stupidity, but when one gives power to those who don't deserve it, what should we expect?

By giboperez24 — On Jun 08, 2015

Some moderators use IP address to determine the place of where the blogs forums etc etc came from. It will determine if it's a scammer or not. Moderation is the only way to prevent those kind of problems.

By GoldTouch — On Jun 01, 2015

Handling such difficult, sensitive tasks, I hope that moderators are given the right compensation to reward them. This will also motivate them to do their jobs more effectively.

If it weren't for moderators, we are filled with horrors in the Internet suffering from psychological disturbance. They are so important in maintaining the order of the virtual world.

By anon936805 — On Mar 03, 2014

It's funny who moderates who. The owner mods admins; admins mod moderators; moderators mod members; members mod guests (spammers).

@threepoint14: To become a forum moderator simply find a forum that allows you to become one and it's free.

By anon349624 — On Sep 27, 2013

Everything moderators do is illegal, and a large sum of the internet should be in jail right now.

By anon343223 — On Jul 28, 2013

The Administrators moderate the moderators.

By anon339385 — On Jun 22, 2013

Who moderates the moderators? What recourse is available for users when a moderator does not follow the correct process/remit and acts unfairly and irrationally, on a personal basis with no justification given and gives no options to contact them?

By anon300137 — On Oct 28, 2012

@rocky94: Forum moderators are able to view IP addresses, but generally don't look at them, unless they need to permanently ban a troublemaker (best way is to ban the IP, instead of each account s/he creates).

By rocky94 — On Mar 01, 2012

Does a forum moderator access the IP address of the forum visitors?

By GoldenRatio — On Jul 17, 2010

@vanderson -- I’ve been down that route of being a “professional” forum moderator (for a company whose name I won’t mention out of respect for privacy) and it is not all it’s cracked up to be. The pay is not that great for the amount of hours that need to be put in, and most of the paid forum moderator positions are for forums that people will generally find boring (i.e. a company’s technical support forum)

My advice: if you are interested in being a moderator, be a moderator for a forum you find genuinely interesting. It probably won’t pay money, but the respect you garner from the community will be payment in itself.

By vanderson — On Jul 17, 2010

@threepoint14: There’s no set in stone path, but more often than not, the answer to that question is to be an active user on the forum you want to moderate. People who appoint forum moderators are generally looking for someone who is well respected by the forum community and takes an active interest in the community.

A few forum moderator jobs are even paid positions! Some companies with user forums need a moderator to encourage discussion and make sure rules are followed, and these companies are willing to provide competitive compensation for someone that can fit the bill.

By threepoint14 — On Jul 17, 2010

How can I become a forum moderator?

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