Dealing with moderators that think they 'own' your forum?

Discussion in 'Members & Staff' started by PeacefulMind, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. PeacefulMind

    PeacefulMind Aspirant

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    I've started a couple modest sites from ground up and from day one have always had a moderation policy in place on all my sites.

    Recently I acquired my first forum. It was a website that I've been a member of for over 5 years and love dearly. The site owner was never around and had moderators that have flat out told people or made people assume that they owned the website. The owner was absent and they over used their power to create rules without the prior site-owners approval.

    The sale came to a shock to both of the two moderators (the site owner sold to a marketing company and I sensed something was off and shot the owner a message offering to buy the site). Lets just say I paid a pretty penny to 'save the site' (and was in shock they allowed me to buy it back). The site will never have enough revenue for the price I paid nor is it a paid site. It was something I was willing to do because.... of my love for the site.

    The past three weeks have just been a train wreck. The moderators have 'admin' tags (even tho they were introduced to the community as moderators); and have full admin panel access (this last will be changed). However they are spiraling at any bit of 'their power' being taken away from them.

    I do something (or anything) to create structure in the staff forum and create guides (or even mention that it's in the process) and they spiral claiming they 'know how to run the site and I should trust them' (I don't like how they are running it). They've tried pushing out community guideline changes; changes to forum interface, and crossing out my actions as the site owner. In some cases when I pointed it out in staff forum I was told "they didn't need to ask the committee every-time they make a change".

    They have clearly stated to me that I need to 'ask them' to make changes and that 'the site doesn't work this way' and telling me what I need to do and what not to do (to the point that they tried to tell me not to make the announcement thread of buying the site). I've been accused of 'not trusting them' and 'lording over them'.

    This is my first time coming in as a member (long term; and active) into an site owner role; where the moderators didn't have a sense of established boundaries.

    Any advice on how to handle this?
     
  2. cornnfedd

    cornnfedd Captain Futurama

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    Small steps I guess, but the first thing I would be doing would be to remove their admin privileges, you could always make up another admin group with less privileges and assign to them so that the members still think they are the admin. You don't want people with the ability to wreck your forum or hold you over a barrel if they disagree with you, it doesn't end well.

    Maybe just try and make small changes over a longer period of time rather then any significant changes straight away, also they may have a point about announcing a new owner - you may want to think how other members will view this, a lot of the time its a negative reaction.

    hmm its a tricky one.
     
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  3. PeacefulMind

    PeacefulMind Aspirant

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    The issue is what they are doing is wholly unacceptable (from reading members PM's to deleting members accounts) with rules that aren't rules. When I bring this up they say "oh anyone we suspect we can read their PM's" (I have not given them chat logs or access) and telling me a group ban vote for members and site owner approval "isn't needed". The policies I want to put in place would protect members privacy and insure fair moderation.

    I made the post in announcements 3 weeks ago (I told them I didn't want them speaking for me); as they wanted to do. Over 100 replies and only 1 reaction that said they where 'scared as the moderators weren't logging on' (which was a friend of the moderators i.e a puppet post). Everyone else I could name by name and they where really thrilled over the change.

    Members have logged back on and said they stopped logging on due to over-moderation; but came back only because the site had changed hands. I have had over 20 members tell me this.
     
  4. NavyRet

    NavyRet Aspirant

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    The easiest and most obvious is to remove their moderating permissions and demote them to regular members. Then you can start the search for new moderators. Another approach would be to remove their permissions to view PMs and delete member accounts. My moderators cannot do either of those things. Since you have spoken with them to no effect, it would seem a more radical approach is the only option you have left. I can tell you for sure if one of my mods acted like that, they would be removed from mod status forthwith and if they caused a stir after that, they would be gone - in a heartbeat.
     
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  5. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    These mods are toxic, I wouldn't only remove them as admins --- I'd make them regular users ASAP with no warning so they can't do any damage, and tell them after the fact. Don't mince words, but do it without losing your cool and be professional. Let them know in no uncertain terms you own the site, there's only one captain of a ship and it's you, and this is not subject to negotiation.

    If they make it a public issue, be frank with the users. Let them know you strongly suspect the mods are violating user's privacy as well as abuse members and their mod power. Also, change passwords to your admin account, search for any user with hidden admin right and change whm and/or cpanel passwords immediately.

    And lastly, turn off and remove whatever plugin is installed that allows them to read PMs.
     
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  6. PeacefulMind

    PeacefulMind Aspirant

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    This is where it's headed and I've been on the watch for any hidden admin accounts and did a a complete sweep (there was a couple). For chat, I can see a reason to keep PM's logged (for reports reasons); and for the accessing of PM's on the site; I suspect they are abusing IPB 'login as member' feature; and will be figuring out how to disable that ASAP. There should be no reason of this ability. If members have an issue in PM they can report the convo.
     
  7. KimmiKat

    KimmiKat Adherent

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    I had something similar when I had my former mboard with one of the mods. I sent the bloke packing and if he didn't like being a regular member, there's other boards to go to.
     
  8. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    And that's ONLY IF he needs mods at all. Without knowing the PPD and such, really can't tell. There's a rule of thumb for that somewhere, but I forgot it. You don't necessarily NEED a mod staff.

    I say try the advice above and go it alone as the lone staffer for awhile. You'll find out a lot by doing this. Drain the swamp, there's a new sheriff in town.
     
  9. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    making them regular members is a horrible idea

    cut your losses ip ban them
     
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  10. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    This is a no no if there was no reason to read someone’s PM (by law or some one was in danger) then i would terminate there services on the spot. Also i would make an announcement how and why they where let go and can’t access the site anymore, this way they do not hold any power.
     
  11. NavyRet

    NavyRet Aspirant

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    I've had another thought along the ban them line - to make sure they don't come back under a new user name, get the Alter Ego add on from the xenforo web site. it uses a cookie to tell if someone has another account on your forum. I use it and it has helped me really keep the spammers out. They have no idea how I keep catching them. It's a great little add-on.
     
  12. PeacefulMind

    PeacefulMind Aspirant

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    They are covering their tracks: Re the reading PM's (I know they frequent chat logs) and would read PM's on 'suspicious members' and when I re-questioned they came up with 'oh well when another member reports them we look through all their PM logs'. They know enough people in the community, both in-real-life and online, that they could easily cause some issues with the site. As well as provide references for the people that 'claimed to report it'. Before they came into the position of power, they were great members (and I don't think it's fair I'm lumping both of them together; both are resisting the change; but one more so privacy invading than the other). I can see legit reasons why one of the moderators was looking at the PM's in most of the cases (and did save the site from legal issues). I can't say the same for the other moderator.
     
  13. cornnfedd

    cornnfedd Captain Futurama

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    I agree with everyone else, get rid of them.

    It will save you a whole lot of drama going forward!

    Work out a time when both of them generally are not on and demote them when they don't know it.
     
  14. cornnfedd

    cornnfedd Captain Futurama

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    Worth going through and checking all permissions for all users to make sure they havent added any dodgy users in somehow also. :)
     
  15. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

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    Yes I also agree with the above. Remove admin rights immediately - they should not have access to hard delete anything, access user profiles, read PMs or change any part of the forum (either via the admin area or via the server). Remove server access and change passwords. As said above, check all profiles for any others with admin access and downgrade those. For the moment only you should have admin access.

    If this is now your forum, there is nothing whatsoever wrong in removing them as moderators completely and telling them you're going to appoint on merit not on the fact you "inherited" them. However if you want to do this softly or diplomatically, then removing all admin access first but leaving some moderator rights (soft delete posts etc) and chatting to them about the way forwards is also fine, because you can thrash out what you are and are not willing to allow mods to do. Give it a positive spin - you saved the site - and you'll soon see if they're friendly or not.

    You probably already know this if an experienced admin, but be so careful in giving ANY user access to PMs or the ability to delete users and so on. Personally I think only the site owner should have this kind of access. Spam cleaning, soft deletion, warning members (or triggering bans that way) is all fine so long as it's logged and reversible by you.

    From experience I can tell you that dealing with an entrenched rotten forum core is not pleasant but if your motives are genuine in saving the forum, in the long term it pays off, and fresh members do come in and replace the bitter and twisted old timers.
     
  16. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Some of you are rather extreme in your responses. Apparently you think a "scorched Earth" policy is a smart way of running a community where you burn and destroy anything in your way. Banning does not equal to effective community management, and should only be taken after all other avenues have been exhausted.

    First, stop thinking of a You vs Them mentality, which is only going to drive a deeper wedge. You need to think of them as partners, who already understand and run the community. You should recognize and appreciate their efforts, and tell them so. You want to let them know that you are here to be a proactive, supportive admin and that you're looking for a new chapter of growth for the community -- and that they're integral to its success.

    Second, you need to establish a new framework where you work together. Set new guidelines and rules that you come up with together. You should also go out of your way to hear their side, it sounds like they've been running this forum way longer and their experience is invaluable.

    Third, recognize that you have a staff. And like any staff, you need to have a formal method of publishing and supporting your policies. How would you feel if a new manager came in, fired the two guys who were running the business just fine, and started doing whatever he wants?
     
  17. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

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    Culture change is hard, slow, and non-linear.

    If you change any part of a human system, the rest of the system must change to adjust—and usually that change is to increase pressure back to the old status quo (this is called homeostasis).

    You need to understand why things are being done the way they are--what needs are being met--before you can hope to change them.

    --don
     
  18. cornnfedd

    cornnfedd Captain Futurama

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    If you give them the benefit of the doubt that they are good people and they are not then given the opportunity they will destroy your forum in 5 minutes flat... so take the privileges away immediately without notice - if they are genuine good people then they will understand why and its all good.

    Putting trust in people you don't know is a bad idea.

    Also when it comes to deleting posts etc, I never let anyone delete posts except for myself, I let mods move the posts into a "deleted section" of the forum that only admin and mods can see, but sometimes its always worth keeping those posts if any issues come up later. Yes I guess the mods can always edit the posts though...

    good luck let us know how it goes.
     
  19. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    Having read and re-read the situation as described I would follow these steps to the letter.

    I normally lean towards dialogue and leniency but in this instance I think you need to take control and cut out the cancer.
     
  20. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    As far as I know there are only two way to read PM’s one is with help of plugin other is direct database access neither should be available for them.
     
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