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10. Multiple or Team Moderation

10. Multiple or Team Moderation

In some cases it might be possible to share a moderation job, rotating from one person to another. No one moderator should become hard to replace. In many cases, a diversity in moderation styles and filtering choices will enrich a group.

If the topic of your group makes it possible for you to split the task (by sub-topic or otherwise) consider it desirable to “farm out” the work as it reduces moderator burn-out. As 'titles' are an easy reward to give, consider 'Guest Moderators', 'Associate Moderators' and 'Co-Moderators'.

For extremely high volume newsgroups it may be necessary to have the group moderated by a team of moderators. Some such groups have as many as 10 moderators. There are benefits for having a team of moderators, including,

  • no need for backup moderators,
  • much easier to go on vacation or take a short break,
  • consulting/second opinion on topics of concern,
  • possible to have a moderator dedicated to answering queries.
  • more bodies working towards making the newsgroup a better resource,

There are different ways for a team of moderators to manage a newsgroup's volume. STUMP (Secure Team-based USENET Moderation Program) is a robomoderator allowing teams of moderators or individual moderators to moderate a newsgroup, via email or Web interface. For more information on STUMP, see


Reguardless of the software used, there are things that any moderation team should be aware of and need to do. Setting up the process and rules of team moderation is critical to a successful group. Don't forget team moderation is a real “team” effort.

10.1. Team moderator mailing lists

Like any other moderated newsgroup, an alias for submissions to the newsgroup should be setup. The incoming articles need to be distributed among the moderators. There are software packages available in the moderators archive which do this. Three strategies for submission distribution among moderators are:

  • systematic distribution,
  • random distribution,
  • moderator selected message locking.

Systematic distribution usually targets the next moderator to receive a submission in a round-robin fashion. [See Section 7.2. Email submission servers for a description of random distribution.] The *.answers moderators have set up a scheme whereby all incoming messages are entered into a queue, and individual moderators lock messages to take them out of the queue for servicing. This has the advantage that should an individual moderator take a vacation, absolutely no reconfiguration needs to be done.

Besides the normal submission and administrative list address it is necessary to have a list address for the moderation team members. In a team moderation scenario, it is recommended that moderators communicate closely with each other to enforce a standard moderation policy and to discuss matters relating to the newsgroup.

Any message sent to the team list goes to all the group moderators. It is also helpful for any reader who may wish to pose a question or make a comment to all the moderators.

A pointer to the team moderators list should be included in the group's FAQ or the group's policy posting.

10.2. Facilitators

Someone needs to be responsible for maintaining the list of moderators receiving the submissions. The moderator team list needs to be frequently updated as moderators go on leave etc. This may be an existing group moderator but it should more properly be a non- moderator acting as a facilitator.

More successful team moderated groups have a group of people working with the group moderators supplying unbiased services to the team. For example, facilitators provide additional services to the group and the moderation team by:

  • maintaining the distribution script,
  • writing and maintaining FAQs,
  • 'owners' of moderation submission, administrative and team mailing list addresses/facilities,
  • maintaining the official group archives or WWW access,
  • supplying other group specific needs.

What facilitators are NOT expected to do is:

  • receive articles for the newsgroup,
  • review articles for the newsgroup,
  • post submitted articles to the newsgroup.

In times of group crisis, facilitators should have the right to post an article using an 'Approved:' line. It is expected that facilitators would only post original articles explaining the situation or its solution as absolutely necessary to resolve a moderator conflict.

Having a good communication among not only the moderators but also the facilitators keeps the newsgroup functionality healthy. An example of such a mailing list is: 'srg-admin@aldhfn.org' for the group soc.religion.gnosis. Another example is 'ww2-mods@acpub.duke.edu'.

In this case, the mailing list for the moderators and facilitators is the same one.

10.3. Rejection Notices

It is recommended that all rejection notices sent out, in multiple moderators environment, be carbon copied to all the moderators and facilitators. This helps in avoiding confusion & conflicts.

In general, all rejections should be honored by co-moderators, unless majority moderators overturn it.

10.4. Multiple moderator conflict resolution

Sometimes conflicts between moderators can get out of hand and spill over into the group. Then everyone suffers.

In extreme cases, with a polarized readership, it's generally better to have all moderators resign and stand for re-election, or choose some other way of letting the readership have its say, rather than relying on, for example, confidence motions among the moderators.

In some cases, it makes sense to use a corporate board of directors model for moderatorship, and document it officially.

This is something that needs to be decided early and not something to be decided when the problem arises. It should be documented in the group's policy posting at a minimum and really should be addressed in the group's charter if possible.

Methods of handling inter-moderator conflicts need to be decided before conflicts arise, especially in groups which handle a controversial or emotional topic. Once a problem gets out of control, it can be difficult to get people to agree on a method for resolving it. These methods should be documented in the group's policy posting or available from the official FTP site.

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