Staff that think they're exempt from the rules.

Discussion in 'Members & Staff' started by Len, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. Len

    Len Aspirant

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    I used to run a few roleplays and the odd forum every now and then, and even a small pet project game once, all of them scrapped due to lack of interest eventually.

    But one pattern I've noticed is that I seem to wind up with staff members who continuously break the rules and wind up banning people that call them on it, resulting in me getting flack for having abusive staff.

    What do you think is the best way to deal with such people? Nowadays, I just reverse their decisions entirely and strip their powers. Also, anyone else had this problem or do I just attract the douchebags?
     
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  2. mamaof2boys

    mamaof2boys Enthusiast

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    Do you have written rules and guidelines for staff? How do you choose who you promote? How do you train them?

    I don't give any powers that can be used inappropriately. My co-admin is the only person besides me who can ban people or delete posts, and we only ban after several conversations and complete agreement between us (other than spammers who get banned quickly).
     
  3. Len

    Len Aspirant

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    I have a rule that says "Only the owner of the site is exempt from the rules", and that should be more than enough. And I choose them based on their experience and if I think they'll be a good moderator. Training? None, cause most of my own skill comes to me naturally.

    But yeah, I've been much more conservative on handing out the ability to ban or delete posts. Cause if someone gets banned, I usually can't be PMed about it and I don't know the wiser.
     
  4. mamaof2boys

    mamaof2boys Enthusiast

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    But should the owner be exempt from the rules? I follow the same rules as everyone else on my forum and expect to lead by example.

    If you don't want them to cause problems or upset the members, then I'd suggest clearly written expectations and training for staff.
     
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  5. Namorat

    Namorat Fanatic

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    I agree. Although moderators are bound to the same rules as members ultimately, you should spend the time on a basic guide for them. Let them know what you expect and what you won't tolerate.
     
  6. karrott

    karrott Developer

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    On my site we have an official mod documentation that all mods must read and accept before doing anything. Failure to follow the guidelines will result in their power being taken away. It's as simple as that. Just remember that no mod worth keeping will ignore your rules.
     
  7. Len

    Len Aspirant

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    I do that too, it's just part of my universal clause that basically says "I'm the admin, my decision is final".
     
  8. Akela

    Akela viam aut inveniam...

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    As much as I agree that this is the only way to avoid anarchy on any forum, is it really necessary to state this to your members?

    If you do not permit anyone to disrupt your forum, no matter your methods, the fact that your decision is final would be pretty clear, wouldn't it?

    It is possible, of course, that I am describing an ideal situation...
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  9. Len

    Len Aspirant

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    Yeah, but you know people, sometimes you need to spell it out for them, I've had the First Amendment debate more than once. XD
     
  10. Nikkia

    Nikkia Aspirant

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    My forum has a dozen or so rules, and probably a dozen and a half for the staff. Simply because, those on my staff, need to know what I will and will not tolerate. As representatives of my forum, I expect them to act a certain way. Even a minor slip up can cost us registrations - registrations I'm not willing to risk.

    I've never had a problem with a staff member misusing their forum powers. The only staff members on my forum that can delete anything (including posts and threads) or ban anyone are two co-admins and myself. If a moderator feels something should be deleted, they use the trash feature so I can review it later - just in case.
     
  11. Jack1

    Jack1 Fan

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    Have a 'Moderating Manual': a guide to moderators on how to moderate properly and efficiently.
     
  12. ChrisM1992

    ChrisM1992 Neophyte

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    Moderator manuel, that sounds like a good idea. Ive not had this problem on my newest forum, but i have had it in the past. Thanks, some great suggestions here.
     
  13. wynnyelle

    wynnyelle Enthusiast

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    Nobody is exempt from the rules on our site. Not me not anybody. We don't promote anyone who has not been on the boards and active there at least 3 or 4 months, and then we start them at the low level staff positions, see how they do and go from there.

    That should weed out any bad apples. So far it has prevented any corruption from leaking into the upper echelon of staff. But nobody is exempt from the rules. The only difference is that staff actively enforce those rules. But they also play/act by them.

    Admins who consistently wind up with unruly staff are failing at an early stage to make it clear what is expected of staff, to promote trustworthy, "staff material" members, and to then swiftly warn and if that fails, remove anyone from power who acts like they're above the law.

    It is 100 times harder to impose the law on unruly staff after they're already quite used to acting this way, as opposed to making it clear to them from the moment they join, but it must be done. It's a cycle that can only be broken by having your current staff set a good example for members, who take their cues for what is expected from how the staff act and do their job. I'm not familiar with any of your boards but I am betting that, chances are, they had already got the wrong idea into their heads long before they became staff.

    I am not trying to cut anyone down here. It took me years to learn all this stuff--yes, I learnt it the hard way. I hope this helps you examine the problem and correct it because it usually indicates deep seated ways of thinking that have etched themselves into the heart of your community. The good news is that it's never too late to turn it around. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride.

    It took us about 18 months to turn a forum that was suffering from this, into a forum that didn't have an ounce of it. I'd go into the story of how we did it, but that's pretty long :p
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
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  14. MisterPersonality

    MisterPersonality Shut up and run!

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    See, that's where you go wrong -- "Only the owner of the site is exempt from the rules." :tisk: You have to lead by example, and not following your own rules isn't leading by example. In addition, I think you should put your moderators on a trial-period before handing over full powers, and make sure they're not thinking "since I'm a moderator, I'm not getting in trouble if I do that..." In fact, you can give over full moderator privileges, but once you get a few [more than one] complaints about an abusive moderator, you need to take the appropriate actions...
     
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  15. EvilGrin

    EvilGrin I am Legion

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    I have found that the best way to keep everyone "honest" is to be open about everything. We have a private mod forum and everything is discussed there. If a mod makes a mess of something it gets fixed in public. This becomes part of the learning process for the whole team as the same mistake won't be made by another mod, in theory anyway. Also there is an element of putting the mod on the spot to account for his actions, this is a very powerful tool as nobody wants to be publicly censured so they think before they act. If done properly and with respect for the dignity of the people concerned there is no ill-will generated. On the very rare occasions that it's needed I have found most people are relieved to have the issue resolved in a fair manner and just want to move forward.

    BTW there is a mod on vBorg.com that will send a PM to all staff when a ban is issued. It won't stop unjust bans but it gives you warning that bans are being issued. It fits in nicely with my "keep it in the open" policy. A very useful mod.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  16. hari

    hari Tazmanian

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    No matter how maturely and sensitively you might handle it, you will always generate resentment in people if you call them out in public or fix their mistakes publicly (giving the general impression that they couldn't be trusted to do it themselves). It's human nature to feel hurt or embarrassed if corrected in view of the public even if the intention was good/honest.

    You might not notice it straight away because people prefer to avoid confrontations generally, but one day this policy might come back to bite you.

    Fact is, if you trust a person enough to be made a moderator, you should give them a chance to correct the mistake and only call them out in private to let them know why it wasn't acceptable. If the same mistake is repeated twice or thrice, they should be demoted.

    Without mutual respect admin <-> moderator relationship can be strained.

    And I would add, you could state that moderators and admins need a higher standard of behaviour to set than other members.
     
  17. wynnyelle

    wynnyelle Enthusiast

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    I learnt that it's way better to discipline privately, almost all the time. The exceptions seem to relate to fighting in threads. If a fight happens, on the rare occasion it gets to that point, we do step in there and discipline openly while at the same time locking the thread. First, a fight involves more than one person so at least two people will have gotten disciplined together, taking a lot of the sting out of it compared to if one person was disciplined alone; second, it sets an example to the rest of the board what is considered a fight, and what happens when you fight.

    For everything else, it is best to go by PM to discipline. We learnt this is true, on our own forum. We switched from public to private rule enforcement and have seen great results.

    If you act as though you're above your own rules you will lose a fair amount of respect. Enforcing your rules doesn't mean you're above them, so if that's what you meant, that's not what I consider "being above the law" at all.

    As for limiting things like ban powers, YES, you need to limit them to the bare minimum that's needed, and in general, bans should rarely be needed. We only do a handful of them a month and most of those, are just robot spammers. Post and board deletion ablities also need to be limited as much as possible for the forum's preservation and safety.

    All staff need to be on their best behaviour, and not get visibly riled up when members act out. Yes--we hold ours to s higher standard and any acting out on a mod's part results in warnings and demotions much more swiftly. We all have bad days, so if a normally nice mod gets snappy once, and it isn't severe we tell them to apologise by Pm to the member in question; but when someone is repeatedly snippy, they don't stay on staff for long.
     
  18. EvilGrin

    EvilGrin I am Legion

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    I don't discipline people in public, I guide them to making the right decisions, that's why it works for me. May not work for everyone.
     
  19. Jura

    Jura Habitué

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    An owner can update or fine tune the rules, but I must agree that you should go by your own rules. I give moderators little power and gradually expand it, but at least you can better see how they handle being in such a position.
     
  20. noodleman

    noodleman Enthusiast

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    Hehe, I don't need any staff on my forum... No one ever breaks the rules =)