Until recently I was related to a team of about 30 moderators on a kind of chat server.

The official rules pretty much only include "Be nice" and "Do not post advertisment links twice per day". There were very noticeable inconsistencies between the enforced policies of different moderators. Some are rather lenient, others are extremely strict and kick or ban users for mistakes that are slight or even doubtful.

There is a bad mood among the users, and mods considered overzealous have become quite disliked or ridiculed. The server owner does not want to participate in moderation at all. This lead to some frustration and apathy both of mods and users.

I attempted to talk about the concerns, but was dismissed, the reasons include:

  • There is no problem, really
  • We are just trying for a very high standard of behavior
  • Only misbehaving users would complain
  • I'm a professional project coordinator, so I know better
  • Even if we act poorly, the users will stay
  • All mods work voluntary
  • We have no time for setting up a common policy
  • As individuals, we will always act differently anyway

It has been some time since I quit, but now that I found this site on the SE network, I would like to ask: How should I handle such a situation if it comes up again? How should I reason?

It is indeed true that the server in question has a very strong market position and users will probably endure, even though in my opinion they deserve better. Some of them pay money for certain additions (those seem to be treated slightly better usually).

2 Answers 2


Walking away was probably the best course of action. You get consistency from consistent guidance and interest in working as a team. If you have a bunch of different people making no attempt to behave in a cohesive manner, you don't have a moderation or leadership team, you have a mob of rogue moderators.

This leads to an uncomfortable and inconsistent experience for users and isn't healthy for a community for the very obvious reasons that people like consistency. As far as arguments that it can't be done, simply pointing out any of the number of communities that manage to have relatively consistent enforcement of rules as a counter argument. True, it is never perfect and there are always mistakes, especially when there is a degree of subjectivity in the rules, but offering mechanisms like review and community moderation can help offset this.

People generally understand that there are going to be some minor differences based on situation. What they generally want is the ability to get input and to have their case reviewed when they feel like they got the short end of the stick. Allowing the community to self-moderate to an extent allows for more uniform action as it takes multiple people to take action and naturally absorbs outliers. Similarly, review of moderation actions also gives more than one set of eyes on a decision to help boost consistency.

None of this works, however, without a top down commitment to consistency and working well as a cohesive team. Ownership needs to be pushing for it and the moderation team needs to want it. You need people who are going to try to work together and try to put aside their own feelings to follow the model formed by the community. If you don't have that, you'll have a very hard time getting any kind of consistent direction as everyone is there to do their own thing rather than to work together.


From my experience of moderating/admining in groups, unless there are owners pushing specific consistent rules, there is not much you can do to solve the problem. You can:

  • Appeal to the owners that some actions need to be taken, probably making a very throughout proposal so they don't have to think much. Back it up with statistics if you can (e.g. how much and for what do different moderators ban).
  • Leave if it doesn't work or you don't even want to try.

That's really all you can do. Notice that talking to the team is not listed -- if you are in such a large group, it is very hard to set up consensus without power. Consensus is actually for small groups.

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