The very first forum I was a part of, they did something unique when they selected a new moderator. The new moderator was put into a separate group called "Moderators In-Training". When I went through the process, I could only give users earning and approve of posts. Over time, I gained access to other moderator tools. Before I was switched over to the main moderator group, I had to be vouched by other moderators.

I was surprised to see that other forums did not do this; instead, you were out into the main moderator group immediately. Stack Exchange has something similar to "Moderators In-Training", as users can unlock moderation tools as they gain reputation.

Since it seems uncommon to have a separate group for new moderators, how do other sites train their moderators, or do they train them at all?

  • 3
    There are any number of approaches, even if you assume formal training to be necessary. This question could be improved by narrowing its scope considerably.
    – Air
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 23:28
  • @AirThomas This might just be a phrasing issue. As far as I can tell, this question is mostly about "how to integrate new people into the team". Not nearly as broad as the title implies.
    – user98085
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 2:45
  • @AirThomas Is the question "Since it seems uncommon to have a separate group for new moderators, how should moderators be trained in a forum-like setting?" too broad, or just the title?
    – Tanner
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 3:59
  • I wouldn't VTC for title alone, if the body is more focused/explicit I generally edit the title to incorporate that. Can't speak for the other votes but my issue is that the number of potentially valid answers is on the order of the number of communities on the internet. A worthy discussion for a more open-ended format.
    – Air
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


Most forum moderation teams have some form of hierarchy - even if it is solely based on "time served". A few people at the very top, who work directly with or as administrators. Then maybe a few team leaders, or simply people with a lot of experience who know the team and the community inside-out. And then there are varying forms of "grunts": Moderators who haven't been on the team for a long while, or just haven't shown to fit into higher tiers.

This doesn't necessarily mean different system privileges - it might just be a code of conduct thing. Moderation teams tend to discuss the actions they take, and the higher tiers simply have more weight, or more freedom to act on their own - without having to check back with someone else.

As for how "training" works, that's usually a learning-by-doing deal. A team leader keeps watch over their moderators, making sure their decisions are in line with policy, and responds to any queries they might have as to how something should be done. Often, there is also a "handbook" provided, that tells the moderators what actions to take, when to take them, how to talk to users, and who to refer to if things aren't going well.

The harsher form of this hierarchy, of course, is a very strict chain of command, with very distinct levels of freedom and clear designations as to who can (and should) take what actions.


Well, there are obviously many ways one could "train a moderator," so I'll give a few:

  1. A mentor system: have an experienced moderator take a new moderator under his/her wing and show him/her the ropes so that both learn how to moderate more effectively.
  2. A place to talk: have a place for moderators (and only moderators) to discuss things about the site (be it specific edge cases or general rules).
  3. A gradual acceptance system: let new mods gradually gain access to more powerful tools as they spend more time moderating. The more they're on the site learning how to be a better moderator, the more tools they will find in their arsenal to help them gain experience effectively.
  4. An election: to ensure that mods are ready from the get-go, allow the community to elect those users who are already active on the site and who have built relationships and experience on the site.
  5. A hierarchy: create an internal system within the group of moderators that is based on privileges, authority, or power (similar to FEichinger's suggestion).

Stack Exchange (more or less) uses a combination of these, which is why I believe that its model works so effectively.

Ideally, you'd want to combine these rather than use any particular one on its own, as any sole option above could cause power/balance issues.


The forum where I worked would always select new moderators based on how well they were doing in keeping the site safe. We had a 'report post' feature, and users that used it the most AND had a high percentage in reporting the right posts would eventually become moderator. We would then give them some pointers, like how to use certain moderation features, and let them on their merry way.

It worked pretty well, we never had a moderator we regretted selecting.

  • 2
    I assume you are intending to point out that your forum used careful selection of moderators that demonstrated they didn't need training and thus no training was required, but you never really clearly explained that. If you could make that a little more explicitly stated, people will probably see more clearly how it relates.
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 19:06

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