Usually when a user complains about getting insulted by another user, a moderator reviews the claim, and when they feel that the complaint is warranted, they punish the insulting user as appropriate.

But how should I as a moderator act when I feel insulted by a user? As an involved party I obviously have a conflict of interest and am not objective. When I punish the user, there will be claims that I abuse my moderator rights to shut down people who don't agree with me. When I don't punish the user, people will think that it is OK to treat me that way and I will lose my authority.

  • How do we send a complaint to a moderator ?. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 20:33
  • @FelixMarin In my community we use phpBB which has a "report" button next to each post, although sometimes we also receive abuse complaints in form of private messages or public forum posts which we handle the same way. But I don't see how this is relevant to the question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


If there other moderators on your site get them involved and let one of them sort it out. As soon as you are involved in this way you should take a step back and do nothing else until the situation is resolved. This is why you need a team of moderators on a site. They can back each other up and you can still act as a team in cases where one of the moderators is involved.

If you are the only moderator on the site then you are stuck between two conflicting goals. This is not a good place to be and can only result in more grief. If you can recruit someone else to the team do so. If it can't be done in a timely fashion then try to resolve the situation as though you weren't involved and then get the new moderator(s) to review your decision as the first thing they do. If you know you can get someone else to help out let everyone know that you had to act immediately but you will get the new people to review your actions.


Honestly, even if another moderator were to handle the dispute, there would still be (justified) claims of moderator collusion. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. The same thing applies in real life; how can you expect a police officer to arrest another police officer?

I just let it go. Unless the user did something that blatantly breaks the rules (profanity? though even then I would probably just edit it out), it's better to just stay calm and let it sit. People actually respect people who can stand criticism, whether justified or not. So, your fear of losing authority is misplaced, while your fear of people accusing you of censoring their criticism is right on target.

Indeed, I have seen many instances of this phenomenon and it almost always ends badly for the moderator. Things tend to snowball out of control when you start censoring accusations of censorship...

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