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I've run a relatively small forum-based gaming community but it's growing and starting to get too much for one person to handle, so I'm looking to add 2 or 3 moderators to help me out. It's mostly just helping newbies learn the ropes, and reminding some of the older members of the rules too. There's the occasional troll that needs dealing with but we're pretty lucky in that most people are there because they are interested in being a part of the community.

We use PHPBB so it has some pre-set moderator tools, but they seem to be pretty in-depth and offer the ability to modify other peoples posts and things like that. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable letting people modify other peoples posts. Is this normal for a community? I can see how it's useful for Stack Exchange, but for a forum where people are posting their points of view in a discussion rather than it being a resource I'm not so sure.

How do you determine what level of access and powers to give moderators when you're starting with your first moderators?

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Since you are starting out, now is a great time to create a moderator code of conduct. Spell out what you do and do not want your moderators to do. In my experience though, giving moderators the ability to edit a post is not the end of the world.

You can prevent "sneaky" edits, by having PHPBB show last modified information on topics.

ACP -> Posting Tab -> Post Settings -> Set Display last edited time information to Yes

If you don't want your moderators to have the ability to edit the body of a post, you can prevent that on the forum as well.

ACP -> Users and Groups Tab -> Group Permissions Select the moderator group you want to edit and press Submit. From the drop down, select Global Moderator Permissions and press Go. Click on Advanced Permissions

In the Post Actions tab, you can disable the ability for a moderator to edit a post.

Moderator Permissions


To determine what level of access to grant your moderators, decide what their purpose will be. Is there job to shuffle topics to the correct subforum and delete spam? In that case they need the ability to delete posts (under Post Actions) and move topics (under topic actions).

If your moderators are being brought in to handle the day to day running of the site or to relieve you of your work load, you need to determine what you don't want to do and delegate that task. You need to make your job easier, don't complicate it by saying the moderators can't handle simple tasks of banning/deleting a spam user or merging duplicate topics.

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You can distinguish between revokable actions and not-revokable actions. If you are unsure, about much power to give them, just choose the revertable actions. Obviously, you want to give them some power. But if you are not happy with their decisions, you can just take bake them.

some revokable actions:

  • open/close a topic
  • move a topic
  • un/stick a topic

some not-revokable actions:

  • edit a post (content and topic)
  • delete a post (1)

Of course you should gain them access to your only-moderators-lounge and talk about them what you need and what not. Depending of your forum software, you may give them access to read "moderators notes" on users now or later and the ability to modify these notes.

Also think about warnings and ban's. Maybe they can throw warnings to users but not ban them. But sometimes, ban's are automaticly issued with a warning level. Check your forum software.

(1) instead of delete a post you could just move a post or thread to a trash can forum invisible to other users.

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Early in a community's development you have a unique opportunity as the administrator to essentially oversee all community activity. You should take advantage of this and assign your moderators as little access as they need to perform the duties the community needs them to do. Not wanting to get too specific into PHPBB features, but you might want to give them the ability to remove content, but not to ban users, for example. When users need to be banned, you can do those bans. When you begin to run out of time for these activities, you can select others to promote to more administrative roles to carry out those tasks.

Having worked in the government, where data control was strictly moderated, if you didn't need access to something, you didn't have access to it. You only gained access once the need was shown for you to need the access. Apply this philosophy to your moderators. If they complain they don't have enough access, then either there are functions not being fulfilled, so give it to them, or they're just power-hungry, so remove them.

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