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All of my app's moderators are in one big group chat. We have this issue that when I need an opinion or ask them to acknowledge me, most of them don't respond to me. Nor do some of them check the staff site to monitor the feeds for inappropriate content. But when some other moderator is speaking about something off-topic, the "inactive" (meaning the ones that don't speak in staff-related conversations) moderators begin speaking with them too.

We have a staff site, so I was wondering if I should add a clock-in feature where they must clock-in every time they log in, to see who is actually doing monitoring and such. But the idea is not to tell them about the installation of the clock-in system in the first place and they must notice it. So we don't have mods just clocking-in whenever they feel like.

How do I curb this issue so they begin to be more active in staff-related conversation? Would the clock-in system be effective? Should I fire "inactive" moderators, if necessary?

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  • 1
    "Clock in", to me, implies "employee". Are your moderators employees or volunteers?
    – Andy
    Aug 11 '15 at 14:34
  • @Andy they are volunteers but the system I would like to implement is similar to a "clock-in" system Aug 11 '15 at 14:36
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It sounds like there are few areas to focus on here, but most of it boils down to communication between you and your team.

Not participating in staff discussions

Think about how your community is run for a second. Is moderator participation in these meetings necessary? Do you approach the team of moderators with a problem and ask for solutions, work through potential issues and then decide a new policy? Or, do you approach them with a solution already in mind and ask if anyone is opposed to this new method? How do you respond to such opposition?

If you are doing the second method on a somewhat consistent basis, your team may not see the value of their opinions. You've already approached them with a solution (and you are the big boss), thus most of the thinking that was required to solve this problem is already done. Asking for opposition is asking someone to stick their neck on the line. They may not be willing to vocally - and in a group - express they are unhappy with your decision.

Next time you have such a discussion, start on something that doesn't have an important deadline. Pick a topic that the moderators have mentioned is an issue in the past and ask them about it. Go into this discussion with very little pre-work done. Don't analyze the problem and offer your own solutions. Instead, ask for their solutions. Provide input, but don't shoot down the ideas. Your goal is to cultivate the discussion, not shut it down with "that won't work because..." or "we tried that..." or "it'll never work...". Basically, you want to rebuild the culture where your moderators feel they can offer opinions without being publicly shot down.

This doesn't mean you have to implement all of their ideas. At the end of the discussion tell them you'll come back with input in a period of time. Stick to that time frame. If you reject an idea, offer a bit of reasoning behind the rejection. If you are interested in an idea, lay out some next steps that will be taken to test/implement a request. Show the moderators that you're listening to their feedback.

Another thing to remember is that real life occurs on the other side of the screen. Just because someone was talking five minutes ago doesn't mean they are still at the computer. I've been known to leave my browser open to various chat rooms around Stack Exchange for long periods of time when I'm not home. I'm still in the room, but I'm not aware of what's occurring. The nice thing about the chat rooms here is that they are persistent. I can scroll through the transcript and catch up on what I missed. My fellow users can star things that they think were important (results vary based on the room).

Both of these allow me to quickly catch up on a discussion. It also allows me to contribute to a conversation long after it was "finished". Do you provide such an option or is the discussion done when you say it is done? By leaving the discussion open for a period of time, you give the moderators time to think and time to respond. Someone may need that time to come up with an idea to help you.

Not monitoring feeds for inappropriate content

This sounds like the moderator isn't doing their job. Talk to the moderator privately about your expectations. If they are unable to handle these expectations it may be necessary to replace them. Give them a chance to fix their behavior first, though. It's important you listen during this discussion too. Someone who is "not monitoring" may, in fact, be monitoring. They may just be doing it differently that you expect.

One person's "inappropriate" can be another person's "funny". There are few things that are universally acknowledged as "bad". This may be one of those discussions I mentioned above, that could get your moderators involved again. If you are expecting one action and moderators are taking another, find out why. Are you overly sensitive? Are they not paying attention? More likely, it's somewhere in between. The content may sit right at the edge of "inappropriate", thus no moderation action was taken.

Seeking acknowledgement

I'm a little concerned about this line in your question:

ask them to acknowledge me

What is your end goal with seeking this acknowledgement? You are at least high enough ranking to have some form of authority over the moderators, if not the outright owner of the community. They know this. What is served by getting this affirmation?

My suggestion is to drop this bit in your attempts at getting input. They know who has the authority.

Off topic discussion

The group of moderators needs an area to unwind. You've provided them with a break room in which to do so. There is nothing wrong with discussions unrelated to moderation. I'd make it clear that business takes precedence over off topic discussions though.

Let the users use the room as they are, provided they can also handle official business when it comes up. This allows them to get to know one another and share experiences that aren't directly related to your community. Team building!

Clocking in

Finally, your idea about clocking in sounds, frankly, bad. As I mentioned in my comment, this implies that the moderators are employees. You are tracking their time. As a moderator, I'd be uncomfortable if this was required of us here. A time commitment is expected of us, but we don't punch in or out. Your moderators are volunteers. They have lives outside of your community and you aren't paying them to spend a certain amount of time moderating your site.

Instead, you should focus on performance. Is the site being moderated to your level of expectation? If so, then there is no harm in moderators spending less time here. If not, find out why not via an open discussion with the team.

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