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I am the founder and sole moderator of a wiki. On this site, users edit informative pages for the most part, but also sometimes engage in (non-real-time) discussion about those pages. There are also spammers, especially as there's no need to log in in order to post.

The wiki software assigns moderators (called administrators) the abilities to temporarily or permanently silence users and to delete and undelete pages.

I wish to add moderators so as to ease my burden: the site has grown, and it's too much work for one person to keep everyone in line. I want to hand-pick them: I don't trust the masses to choose wisely. What are some criteria I should use when choosing moderators, and why?

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On a wiki I administrate, we have an informal policy of self-nomination. (There is a review procedure to codify policies, but this one never went to vote due to a period of inactivity.) I think the pre-requisites we use would also be a good, baseline filter for potential candidates:

  • The candidate must have the desire to become an Administrator.
  • The candidate must have timespan amount of experience with Wiki's subject matter.
  • The candidate must have timespan amount of experience editing the Wiki.
  • The candidate must have X # of edits within the past timespan, to prove that they are an active Wiki user.

The nomination is visible for public vote and comment for two weeks. You can probably skip that step, since you intend to make the decision yourself.

Of the subset of users that fulfill the points above, you'll want to look for the following qualities:

  • Contributions that improve existing content, in addition to creating it.
  • Willingness to help new wiki users learn the ropes, and to answer questions/participate in any community discussion (if applicable).
  • Willingness to perform administrative tasks with only the power of a regular user. This one is important. For example, if you have users that are creating processes on their User pages (or other special pages) to review and improve wiki content... they tend to be great candidates for Wiki Administration because you will be providing them an expanded toolset to do something that they are already doing: revising and improving the wiki content.

Overall, the standout candidates in your mind should be people that are already doing some of the work of wiki administration, without the tools.

  • I've edited the question for clarity since this answer was posted. You may wish to revise the answer in light of the edit. (Or maybe not. This is just a courtesy notification, not an indication that anything's wrong with your answer.) – msh210 Jul 30 '14 at 16:11
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  • Positive contributions. If a user has done a lot of positive contributions (edits, new posts ...), then that's a sign they care about the site.
  • Participation in discussions. If a user actively participates in discussion about the policies of your wiki or something similar, they are a good candidate. Participating in this kind of discussions is probably an important task on your wiki. If they keep themselves on the background with a mentality of "I will just do what others decide", they probably won't be good moderators.
  • Politeness. If a user is not polite and has a discussion with someone else, this might annoy the other user and discourage further discussion.
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In order for anyone to be a good moderator, they need to know what is expected of the moderators at this particular site, and they need to feel that they want the same thins as the other moderators and the site owner.

So the first thing you need to consider is what you want from the site. Why did you start the wiki in the first place? What did you want to achieve? What sort of users did you want on the site, and did you succeed in attracting those users? If you haven't got those things clear, you really need to start thinking about it before you bring others in as co-admins/moderators.

Once you've got this clear, you need to think about what the terms of moderation are. What is it you expect the moderators to do? What kinds of decisions will they have to make, and how do you want the moderators to make them? What community rules and/or guidelines do you have at this point, and how do you usually enforce them? Again, these are things that you really need to be clear about. If you don't know what you want the moderators to do and how they should do it, there is no way that they will be able to consistently do what you want.

You also need to figure out how you want to deal with any problems with the moderators themselves. What will you do if someone doesn't enforce and/or abide by the guidelines? What will you do when there's a disagreement between the moderators? What powers should the moderators have against one another as well as against the users?

Now that you have clear guidelines and a clear view of how you want the moderators to work, you can start thinking about who you'd like to be a moderator. Since you've got a lot invested in the site, and you'll still be doing the lion's share of the work for some time, you should pick people that you feel you can communicate well with and who appear to have the same ideals as yourself as regards the site. They should behave towards others in the way you think is the best possible way to act on the site. If possible, choose people from more than one timezone; it will reduce the time people will have to wait for a moderator to handle a problem.

The most important thing, though - if there's a user who's done something less than stellar, maybe said something rude or stepped on somebody's toes... have a look at how they handled it. You want someone who is open to the suggestion that they may have made a mistake, who kept their temper when challenged, and who was ready to apologize and change their behaviour when in the wrong. This is the most important skill for anybody who is in effect representing you on your site.

You also need to remember that no choice is irrevocable. You need to be prepared both for the moderators to resign for whatever reason, and for you to need to kick someone off the team when necessary. Make sure you have already thought about how to handle this when it happens.

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