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I'm a well-regarded, long-term user on a site. One of the moderators has taken a personal dislike to me, I think because we're often on opposite sides of issues on the site. I strive to always be polite, but it seems like if I raise an issue or make a post he opposes it (loudly), while if someone else makes the same point he gives it a fair hearing. This is limiting my ability to participate in these discussions, which makes me feel marginalized.

I used to love this community but it's been feeling pretty hostile lately; other users don't want to get involved (very few do at all to begin with), partly due to apathy and partly because they don't want to be treated the way I'm being treated. I've asked for help from the site owners, but they have said they won't step in unless a moderator is clearly out of line, and this is at the ongoing-low-level-sniping level, not the full-assault level, so they aren't acting.

Short of leaving or deciding not to care about site issues (easier said than done), what can I do to be able to have a better experience on this site? I've invested a lot of time and energy in it and don't want to be chased out. I also don't want to disrupt the site by, say, asking other users to campaign for me. Do I have any other options?

22

Get in touch with somebody above the moderator: a community manager or the site administrator. If there is a "contact us" link, that's probably a good start. Explain what's going on. Keep a cool head throughout and bring evidence.

If this amounts to nothing, take your business somewhere else. Trying to sneak around a moderator is only going to make the hunt more fun — at your expense. Stop bringing that site your ad dollars and join a different community.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Don't try and resolve the situation by creating drama. The website you're visiting probably has a topic, and that topic isn't you or that other moderator. If you create noise, other people will be annoyed by you. If you try and stir trouble, moderators are in the right to stop you.
  • Don't turn the situation in a "it's either me or this moderator" scenario, because, at the end of the day, you're a random person on the internet and the moderator's a person the site ownership trusts. Unless that person has done something truly horrible, the site ownership is invariably going to choose the moderator over you.
  • If you're leaving, don't announce it — just do. If you have made a few friends there, PM them and let them know. In the (admittedly unlikely) chance that you're missed, they'll be happy to explain what happened.
  • Never call people names. Calling a moderator "literally worse than Hitler" is not constructive and will only serve as a distraction from your actual point. It also gives that moderator a good reason to silence you.
  • Do not use the censorship or freedom of speech card; they won't help you. Freedom of speech does not apply to websites. Corporations are literally unable to censor anything.
10

What options you have are very specific to the community - both written (and unwritten) rules/guidelines and technologies being used. Depending on the rules some options my be against the TOC/other policies that you have agreed to so check first. Depending on the technologies not all of these options will be available.

  • Rename your user: depending on community activity levels, whether renames are reviewed and how invested the mod is in their dislike this may just make them 'forget' who you are.
  • Get a new user account: Not a great option since it is often prohibited and looks bad if observed even without an official prohibition.
  • Avoid the mod for a while as suggested by Malachi: do your stuff at times when they are unlikely to be online (most people have a discernible pattern of being online more often at specific times/days). If they are actively gunning for you this may not work but if they just passively don't like you and will bash you when they see you it may.
  • Avoid the site for a while. Not a nice option if you like the rest of the community but as a last resort other than totally forever ditching it may work. Like avoiding the mod but may work even if the mod is checking your activity whenever they come online.

Other than that not much if the upper level management (other admins/mods site owner etc.) won't help you.

6

You could ask the site owners not to perform an action so overt as say, suspension of moderatorship, but instead just communicate that you are feeling upset over the way you have been treated and would like them to have a quick word to the moderator about it. One of the things I tell my moderation team is not to let personal matters or opinion come in the way against moderator duties - maybe the site owners could do something similar.

You might also wish to mention that you're happy to make amends too, and are prepared to be positive throughout. Even raising the matter with the moderator themselves may help. Do note however, that you should not come across as accusing or otherwise belligerent, instead saying something like "I appreciate you may have an alternative opinion to mine, but would you please set those aside during moderation?".

0

Why not just 'take a break' from the community? Or change your pattern of use? Maybe after a short break, things will be different. Maybe its them or maybe its something your doing and you don't even realize it.

  • 2
    "Short of leaving or deciding not to care about site issues (easier said than done)" -- because I care about the site too and don't want to be chased out of a place I helped build. (I don't think a short break would help; I did leave for a few weeks but when I returned it was business as usual.) – Monica Cellio Aug 19 '14 at 18:31
  • By rights, this posts asks what should 'I do...'. And taking a break (or changing your use pattern) is a rational behavioral response. From what I hear in responses, I think you should change the title, 'How do I fight for my rights'? -- "call a fig a fig, and a trough a trough" – xtian Sep 26 '14 at 20:26

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