How should I deal with an active and important community member who is overly concerned with their self-importance?

Some may go so far as to label this behavior a "god complex". This member believes they can do no wrong, and while they are generally invaluable, it's that last little bit that makes them grind on the communities nerves.

Or perhaps they don't find that their posts generate enough interaction, so while superb, they often go back in time and delete older posts that didn't generate their requisite level of engagement. Thus, as a moderator you have to go and un-remove those posts to ensure the community is best served.

  • 2
    Is this specifically for Stack Exchange?
    – user35
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 18:37
  • 5
    You should consider questions on this new site to be about all moderation activities
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 18:38

3 Answers 3


You should consider users' actions independently of their prior contribution.

If a user is, in excess, causing problems within the community, then the appropriate action to take is to escalate punitive responses, as you would with any other user. Their prior contributions and/or reputation are not a shield against moderative action. This being said, if you know them to be a positive and reasonable contributor, consider that they may be more amenable to hearing things directly from you through a private mode of communication. However, this doesn't always work, even with experienced or patient users.

That being said, be careful with this. It's very easy to be dragged into action simply because they're getting on your nerves. With such a user's posts, take a moment to make sure their contributions are really worth action. However, don't be shy to take action.

In the case of Stack Exchange, this might mean a warning, a moderator message, and eventually suspension. In the case of IRC, this might mean a verbal warning, a kick, a temporary ban, and eventually a permanent ban.

The one exception to this occurs when the user is a critical member of the community - so much so that public punitive action would cause problems within the community. In this case, permanent action isn't advisable, but short temporary action may be.

  • 1
    I believe the important bit from this answer is "ensure you open lines of communication with the problem user privately and explain the concern"
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 18:45

A lot depends on how valuable their contributions truly are. You have to ask yourself can the community survive without them? If you think the answer is "no" then you're probably stuck with tolerating and excusing their behaviour. However, if you think the answer is "yes" then treat them as you would any other user.

Ideally the answer should be "yes", but in the early days of a site you might have to allow more leeway. Unfortunately this sets a precedent for the behaviour to continue and others to follow suit using the argument "well they get away with [specific behaviour]".

I think the trick is to spot the early signs of the behaviour and try to communicate with the user and tell them in no uncertain terms that the must abide by the same rules and codes of conduct as everyone else. Don't be afraid to issue short suspensions/bans (if your system allows it) or other censures. This demonstrates that no one person is more important than anyone else.


The following points can be helpful in facing such a situation:

  • Please first note that all members of a community should be treated the same by the community managers (administrators & moderators), independent of their roles and contributions, because of the following reasons:

    i) If community managers keep ignoring some misbehavior from some specific members, even the best contributors of a community, such members and other members are implicitly encouraged to commit other bad behaviors because misbehaving is like a cancerous tumor; if it is not cured, it may grow heavily and spread.

    ii) Discriminatory treatment discourages community members from contributing to the community.
  • In such a situation a moderator should first talk to such a member privately and appreciate their contributions to the community; the member should be assured that their role in the community is invaluable, and should feel a sense of responsibility about the community and its future.

    Then, the moderator can talk about some kinds of behavior threatening the future of the community, including that member's misbehavior, with the member, and try to find proper solutions with the member's help.

Since you have mentioned two specific behaviors, the following points are stated with respect to them:

  • If a community member shows a god complex behavior, it can be recommended that a moderator of the community chat to such a member, (the moderator) confessing some of wrong things that has done by them (the moderator) in the community and explaining that occurring such things is natural for everyone.
  • If a community member keeps removing some of their old superb posts, which seems to be not well engaged enough, a moderator of the community should friendly talk to them and inform them that high-quality posts may need much more time to receive deserved responses because of their high quality and that removing such posts can lower the quality of the community; together with the responsibility role stated in the second point, such a member is likely encouraged to stop such a behavior.

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