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As part of a team of moderators for a community chatroom, I work with a problematic moderator.

The chatroom is used as part of a gaming community, in order to make plans, as well as socialise.

Our chat service has a configurable auto-responder, and this moderator continually adds new triggers and responses to it, which causes disruption in the chatroom, and worsens the signal-to-noise ratio.

While I am able to remove their moderation privileges, there are a number of other moderators who do not agree that the actions have potential to turn users away from the chatroom.

How can I best handle this?

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    Is your chat room a second (or third) place incidental to the purpose of your site or is the content there a primary goal of your site? How you moderate it will surely depend on how tangential it's purpose is to the rest of your site's ecosystem.
    – Caleb
    Jul 30 '14 at 15:28
  • Can you please edit that info into the question so it explains the context/intended usage of your chat room?
    – Caleb
    Aug 3 '14 at 7:35
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Do you have a room dedicated to moderators? If not, make one.

If you've asked the moderators as a whole, and the response has been definitively negative, then it may be best to hold off on action for a while. Remember that you are a part of the community, and that your position has weight, but is not absolute.

If, after a few weeks, you have new evidence to suggest that it's irritating people in the chatroom, at that point it is worth bringing up again. However, if you can't find clear evidence that it's an issue, consider that the culture of the chatroom might just be okay with that, anyway. (If it's anything like #xkcd's Bucket, my guess is that it's culturally acceptable.)

It is worth noting, though may be tangentially relevant, that chatrooms tend to be more lighthearted in terms of moderation stringency. Chatrooms have a particular flow to them, and users are typically only irritated with that which breaks the flow of conversation. Consider whether it's becoming intrusive, and definitely feel free to talk about this with other moderators.

At the very least, a question others should be able to answer is: "When does it become intrusive?" - this is a neutral, and rather important, question to answer with any auto-responder.

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The first question to answer is "is this actually an issue or just something I personally don't like?" If other moderators are worried that shutting this mod down would result in losing users, then there is a decent possibility that the community may not actually see the actions of this moderator as noise, but rather find them an interesting part of the community. Before taking any action, you should really confirm it is actually a problem and not just something you don't like personally.

I really can't emphasize the importance of this first point enough. One of the most destructive things that can happen in a community is that the leader of the community gets it in their head that the community should move in a different direction than the community wants to. It generally plays out that the leader tries to push in a certain direction against a moderator or officer that most represents what they dislike, they get limited response from other moderators or maybe slight resistance because those other mods see the will of the community but don't want to directly go against the leader because they don't care enough to fight for it. Eventually though, the stress causes a tear in the community and the majority of the community ends up leaving because the leader is seen as out of touch and making it less fun to be around.

You may very well be correct, but you need to be very careful and open minded to the fact you may not be if you aren't getting support from the rest of your team pretty easily.

Assuming that it is actually a problem with the broader community as a whole and only something that certain users like, it is best to clearly document why it is an issue and come up with ideas for how to avoid those issues and find a way to best service the users who will be impacted but also to make sure the community as a whole is restored to where it needs to be. After you have this reasoning, approach the moderator with it and try to work it out with them. If you can make them understand how it is disruptive and provide proof that the community doesn't like the disruption, you may very well be able to get them to alter their behavior.

If they still don't believe you or continue in their behavior, talk to the other moderators and get them to reinforce your case if they agree with it. (Again, if many of them don't agree, it may actually be you who is seeing the situation incorrectly.)

If the moderator continues to go against the entire moderation team and the broader community's wishes, then it may be time to take further action. Perhaps disabling auto-responders in the chatroom or, in extreme cases, removing the moderator may be necessary, but this should really only be a last resort action if they have clearly stopped participating as a member of the team and are off doing their own thing regardless of the wishes of the rest of the team and the community.

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