I have been a moderator on a number of websites, and I have always noticed the same trend: when I first join, people appreciate me for whatever I add to the website, and I'm just one of the many active users. However, when I become a moderator, some people suddenly start treating me like some kind of superstar, and I start getting quite a lot of unwanted attention. Since I'm a moderator, I can't simply tell them off when I don't like this. Instead, I start being way more reserved, and through time, people start perceiving me as detached.

This is something I absolutely do not want though. It seems like distancing myself from the community is a way to protect myself from unwanted attention, but it is backfiring against me, and even keeping me from enjoying interaction the way I did before.

How can I keep myself from letting this happen?

(Disclaimer: I'm exaggerating the facts a bit, for clarity's sake.)


6 Answers 6


The best thing I've found to help with this is to invest yourself in people's concerns and problems. As a moderator, you serve a different role and are going to be seen differently from a normal community member, but if you make a pro-active effort to be involved with the community for more than just moderating and make sure to be helpful to people and/or joke around with people if the medium of the community allows for it, then it should help keep you human.

Also, don't be afraid to admit fault and change your mind if someone makes a good argument. You seem far less aloof when you are willing to admit your mistakes. That said, that doesn't mean back down on something just to seem willing to change, but try to recognize your mistakes when you make them (because you will).

Additionally, if something you do isn't popular with a sub-group of people, if your community has a mechanism to deal with it, ask for broad feedback on the issue. SE does this well with meta, but just about any type of community can setup some type of community management forum or chat for discussion on issues about the community itself. If you are willing to offer the community input, that's another great way to demonstrate that you are just trying to do what the community wants.

As long as the community is healthy, then word should get around since those you've worked with like a normal human being will see you as a normal human being.


As a moderator you are in every case a VIP and in the centre of attention. There is a small line between "deal with it" and it's too much attention focused on a single person. In my opinion a moderator should manage certain issues that a community can't handle by itself (e.g. deletion of legally questionable material).

If you are recognized as an active contributor within a community it's fine. Also if this leads to a small "fanclub", basically that's fine too, because they idolize you; and shouldn't concern you too much.

But if this group grows too much after being appointed to the moderation-status you should ask yourself why they are doing it. Do these users hope to get "better" treatment (as in orwel's animal farm) or just idolize you a bit more?

In my opinion you should communicate those issues within the community, you don't have to tell them to go off, but you can communicate that you are just a member like everyone else and thus there is no use to treat you in a special way. You can also communicate this fact sometimes if you make a polarisating opinion.

What can you do to feel better? You are a moderator and the community will treat you in a different way. I think it's a bit about your personal mindset. Don't try to run away from the unwanted attention, analyze it and ask yourself why these users are doing it. If it's because you are a moderator, close your eyes and hope it will go away soon (it won't but it shouldn't be the reason to get reserved). So the only effective way is to change your mindset a bit. It's like playing a solo at a concert instead of being an eager, working background technician.

If you are denoted as moderator you have to accept that you will gain popularity and if you want to get reserved about something, chose the fact that you gained popularity


It may be difficult to attain, but it's certainly a way that works: Don't be so damned good!

Being the only moderator on a rather large forum I remember engaging in lengthy - 100+ posts topical arguments with the users, just as another user - and I never had trouble to slip in moderator shoes and command authority when needed to calm an argument slipping out of hand or instruct an user on some unacceptable behavior. And then slip out of them, go back to butt in, in some discussion, and get shouted at for being completely wrong.

The important factor was that while the forum attracted many experts, I was merely lower-intermediate in the domain of main focus of the forum, meaning it was easy to be outshined by several common users who simply knew more than I. Of course they didn't have nearly enough time for moderating, and some had rather volatile tempers, meaning I fit the moderator role better.

Being a moderator is a significant bonus to prestige. Give that to one of top users and you create a celebrity. Picking out someone closer to the middle of the file (specifically, good moderator traits, but average or sub-average (though not entirely bad) topical knowledge) and there's no problem about that.

Understandably, that's more about choice of moderators than being a moderator yourself... I mean, you can't suddenly lose a couple of years of experience in your field, just to fit better in as a mod...


Sharing my experience from being a game admin, I give you a perfect solution. Don't use the same account/the same displayed name when admining/moderating and when being a normal member of the community. For example, if I join as an admin, my name is A_Baskakov_Dmitriy, "A" standing for "admin", so people see clearly who is online, and the same name is used on the forum, so people can complain about me if they think I do something wrong, address me there about admining issues, and see if it is the same person addressing them on the forum and in-game. However, when I join to play as an ordinary player, I join as, for example, John_Smith. Nobody knows that I admin on that server, everyone treats me as a normal player. Only other people with admin permissions can see that John_Smith is the same guy as A_Baskakov_Dmitriy -- but they are notified using a private forum section anyway. If my identity is compromised, I can easily make another one.

Speaking about normal forum/Facebook communities, the same applies: use a different account or display name when making official statements, judgements etc. When posting normally, don't let other people understand that it's the admin speaking.

Of course, a community small enough will have your identity found out in a very short time, but moderating small communities is a very different story anyway, so don't worry. This worked perfectly in a 75-thousand-users community about the Russian language.


Well, I think that a bit of (unwanted) attention is part of the job description.

The fact that you are a moderator may (depending on the site) be strikingly obvious by the way you appear in posts/actions you take. It almost has to be this way so that actions you take have weight to them and carry value.

Becoming a moderator is a choice you make that affects the way you carry yourself (as it should) because you have to set an example for the community. Unfortunately, this may alienate you from other users, but it's something that must be done if you want to be respected as a moderator (which you must for to fulfill your responsibility).


Moderators will always attract a higher level of attention and a certain amount of respect and even reverence. Unfortunately it comes with the territory of being a moderator. The best thing you can do is to ignore it and continue to be the friendly self you were before you became a moderator.

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