At some point, a community will need moderators to help filter out the junk traffic from the good traffic and resolve disputes with other players.

There are a few ways moderators can be chosen. How should they be?

  • 1
    That very much depends on what tasks moderators are supposed to perform, and also on the nature of the community. Jul 29 '14 at 19:50
  • It also depends on the nature of the software being used for the community.
    – jcolebrand
    Jul 29 '14 at 20:22
  • Is there a way I could improve the question, to as make it more specific without being too localized? Jul 29 '14 at 20:24
  • 1
    A more specific question, answering (I hope) the objections to this one, is moderators.stackexchange.com/q/319.
    – msh210
    Jul 30 '14 at 15:53
  • This should actually be flagged as primarily opinion-based... Sep 26 '14 at 17:28

In communities, there are many ways to choose moderators, and each one will work or not work depending on the type of community and users that make the community up. I'll try to give a summary of just a few methods that can be used when determining moderators.


This is the administrators/owners of the community pick staff members from a pool of people. Usually, members in these pools are older members, have high reputation, or are friends of the owners.


  1. Gives a chance for the higher staff to get to know the users
  2. Encourages users to post content in order to get "noticed".
  3. Usually reputable (assuming reputable decision makers).


  1. Feels out of control
  2. Can give hopelessness ("I'll never be able to get to this guy")
  3. Friends of decision makers seem to get higher status quicker.

Community Election

This is where the community casts votes for moderators that apply for the position. Stack Exchange uses this model with their moderator selection process. Users can vote for who they want to become a moderator. There is usually with a certain threshold, such as reputation, length of time, or a combination of these or more factors, when allowing to vote, to prevent abuse of the system. It is also sometimes weighted based upon these factors.


  1. Community feels like they have an impact
  2. Encourages applicants to get to know the community (or at least, make a 'face' within).


  1. Can end up being a popularity contest (i.e. voting for the cool kid).
  2. Users may try to game the system to help themselves (as applicants) or friends (as normal users).


This one, along with community election is a method that is used on the Stack Exchange sites. This model is where privliges are 'unlocked' as you get more karma and in so, being more trusted with tools. This, while not a conventional moderator system, can be useful in load-balancing the work (especially for a larger site).


  1. You have to work your way up (You can't just apply for staff)
  2. No formal application (the managers don't have to read each application, and try to decide if they're being truthful, etc)
  3. Usually pretty easy to implement to work automagically


  1. Can turn in to a popularity contest (higher and lower reputation users sometimes could get up voted or down voted just because of their status.
  2. There can be ways to game the system (using votes, sockpuppets, etc)
  3. Newer members could feel "locked out" of privileges.

Which Should I Use?

Use the one that fits the community best. You can even try using a hybrid of this format, where the users cast 'votes' or support, while having the community administrators approve, or community elections and a rep based system. You can always test and refactor, punish those who don't uphold their status correctly, and ask the community members for suggestions.

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