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  1. #1
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    Question How do you moderate a forum with young/inexperienced users?

    We've been helping a friend with a site that was recently acquired. It's a games site / arcade doing about 15k uniques a day with a forum that needs to be improved.

    The problem is that most of the forum posters don't appear to be experienced forum users, and seem like they may be about 8-14 years olds making short silly posts that don't help readers a lot.

    What's the best way to moderate a forum with young/experienced users?

    Thanks in advance for all feedback.

  2. #2
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    You're going to want to provide the forum members with resources informing them of how to use the forum software, propere net-equitte and dispute resolution. I don't know what your particular topic is about, so I can't go into much more detail than that.

    Here's the second thing you need to do (should be standard procedure on any forum).

    Lay down the law. You're going to have to come up with some forum rules, and make sure people stick to them. Here are the rules I use on one of the forums I adminster. I changed a few things (mostly names) to protect the guilty (me). Also, there are boards mentioned in this example policy that may not apply to you. I included them for the sake of completeness and hopefulyto provide you with some inspiration. Feel free to tailor my example to meet your needs. Keep in mind this is not legal advice, and I strongly suggest you let a licensed practicing attorney review this example before implementing it.

    (Example Forum Posting Policy)

    By Registering, you acknowledge that you will abide by the <Your Web Site Name> forum posting rules. Failure to abide by these rules may result in temporary or permanent removal of your posting privileges.

    FORUM CONDUCT
    1.) When making a post on this message board, conduct yourself properly. Proper conduct includes treating others with courtesy, dignity and respect. Do not use foul language or make any attempts to bypass or otherwise circumvent our language filter. The posting of messages or materials that are obscene, sexual, pornographic, violent, abusive, discriminatory or threatening in nature, or designed to harass or intimidate another person will not be tolerated.

    2.) Do not post here (or even bother registering for that matter) if your only intention is to be confrontational. This includes behavior considered to be "trolling" by the administrators and moderator staff.

    3.) Posting of any personal information belonging to another person without their express written consent is prohibited. Proof of consent must be furnished to the administration and moderator staff immediately upon request.

    4.) If you post or re-post materials from other Web sites, Web pages, Web logs (blogs), message boards, newsgroups, books or other media, credit should be given whenever possible. Furthermore, the copyrights of the authors is to be respected at all times. When copying materials from other sources, be sure to copy no more than 10% of the work, and provide proper attribution to the author.

    5.) NO SPAM. Commercial messages of any kind are prohibited without the express written consent of the site administrator.

    6.) Do not bring problems or "flame wars" from other Web sites, Web pages, Web logs (blogs) or message boards to this one, or personal issues from any other source. If you have a problem with someone, DO NOT BRING IT IN HERE. This includes any form of debate from other boards.

    7.) It is strictly forbidden to post any link, make reference to, or mention the ability to make available through any manner any items of questionable nature. This includes the acquisition of or sharing of ANY copyrighted material obtained through any unauthorized or illegal means, from any location, be it on the Internet or not. This includes programs such as Kazaa and those like it.

    BOARD SPECIFIC RULES

    Trade and Sell Board

    1.)
    The <Your Web Site Name> Trade and Sell board (herein referred to as the "Trade and Sell Board") will be used solely for selling, trading, making available, obtaining or exchanging <insert permitted type of materials> and <insert permitted types of material>-related materials. The <Your Web Site Name> Web site (including its forums), its administrators, moderators and support staff CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for any trades, sales, barters, or other exchanges made through the Trade and Sell board. Any acquisition obtained through which the Trade and Sell board was an intermediary or acting as a mediator or an agent between persons or parties will be considered unconditionally a free act notwithstanding holding the <Your Web Site Name> Web site, its forums, administrators, moderators and support staff blameless.

    2.) Use of the Trade and Sell board is at your own risk. Please refer to Rule #1 in this section for details.

    3.) It is strictly forbidden to sell, trade, or make available any unauthorized or illegally obtained copyrighted materials, or any items which the administrators and/or moderators may find questionable and/or dubious in nature. The forum administrators and the moderators reserve the right to remove, without notice, any items deemed inappropriate.

    Off-Topic Discussions
    All off-topic (ie: non-<main forum topic> related) subjects belong on the Off-Topic Discussions board. Off-topic threads and posts are to be limited to non-controversial subjects and should not include topics of a "real life" political or religious nature (see "Real Life Politics and Religion", below)

    Real Life Politics and Religion
    All topics of a real-world political and/or religious nature must be posted in the "Real Life Politics and Religion" board in the Off-Topic area of the forum. "Threadjacking" of other threads, regardless of their location with said topics will not be tolerated. Remember that by their very nature, topics of this nature can be very touchy. To ensure that the Real Life Politics and Religion board remains an enjoyable experience to peacefully discuss and debate topics of a real-world religious or political nature, the following rules must be followed at all times when using this area of the forum (in addition to the standard policies published by the <Your Web Site Name> Web site):
    • Think before you post; if it is questionable material, do not post it
    • Respect the viewpoints of others. Politics is like coffee, everyone prefers their own brand.
    • Arguing, belittling and "holier than thou" attitudes will not be tolerated.
    • No flames.
    Remember, we are all entitled to our own opinions, and that is what the Real Life Politics and Religion board is for; please discuss these topics and the variety of ways we as people view and interpret them through other peoples' eyes. There is no right or wrong in an opinion.

    Remember and respect that! At the end of the day, we're all friends, and that's what matters most. We all can have differences of opinion, as long as we remember that there are many ways to look at the same topic or idea.

    PRIVATE MESSAGES
    1.)
    When communicating with each other via the forum's private messaging system, be sure to follow the forum's posting policy at all times, as this will help prevent problems from arising.

    2.) Topics being discussed via the private messaging system may wander from the standards established by the forum administration and management, provided that all parties involved in the private discussion are at least 18 years of age and agree beforehand. If a discussion goes beyond what you are comfortable with, do not hesitate to withdraw your consent to discuss the topic at hand. If the other person(s) in the discussion continue to discuss the objectionable subject matter with you via the private messaging system, please refer to Private Messages Rule #4 for an appropriate course of action.

    3.) The private messaging system is not to be used to spam, attack, harass or otherwise annoy anyone.

    4.) Any such attacks, harassment, or otherwise unwanted private messages should be reported directly to the forum administrators. Save a copy of the offending private message (in other words, do not delete it) so we may review it. Do not report violations of this nature to the forum moderators. Only the administrators have the ability to search through the forum database and read any post or private message they choose; they will not tolerate "false alarms" or falsified reports of violations of the private messaging rules.

    MISCELLANEOUS
    We encourage lively debates and discussions about a wide variety of topics; however, when you object to a certain topic or post to the point where you intend to attack the poster, contact the moderators instead. The post may be objectionable to us, in which case a heated response will just get you in trouble as well.

    In the event you feel you must contact the forum moderators, you may do so directly, or use the "Report to Moderator" button available in the offending post. When using the "Report to Moderator" button, be sure to click on the button in the objectionable post, otherwise the wrong post will be reported to us.

    The site administrator, forum administrators and moderators reserve the right to edit, delete, move or lock any message and/or thread for any reason. There may be NO warning and NO explanation as to why. The forum moderators use their own discretion and judgement in deleting posts. This means that even if we're wrong, it's our right so long as we think our actions are necessary to keep the message board clean and tasteful.

    Several procedures are in place to ensure that the forum moderators are accountable to each other, and the administrators likewise. However, if you suspect that a moderator or administrator is behaving inappropriately or has made a mistake, do not hesitate to contact the site administrator.

    Opinions, advice and all other information expressed by participants in discussions are those of the author. You rely on such information at your own risk. The administrators and forum moderators will NOT be held responsible or liable for the content of any message posted on this message board.

    DISCIPLINARY ACTION
    This is our typical and preferred course of action:

    Posts that break any of the rules contained in this posting policy or are otherwise deemed inappropriate by the forum administrators and moderators are removed to a separate storage area for review and documentation.

    Every poster who violates the rules, with the exception of the violations listed below, will receive three (3) warnings. On the third and final warning, you will lose your posting privileges for the following time periods:
    • 1st Offense: 7 Day Ban
    • 2nd Offense: 1 Month Ban
    • 3rd Offense: 6 Month Ban
    • 4th Offense: 1 Year Ban
    • 5th Offense: Permanent Ban
    Offenses That Will Result In An Automatic Ban
    • Communicating any kind of a threat.
    • Circumventing an existing ban.
    • Posting under another member's username with or without their permission. This will get both parties banned.
    • Posting pornographic or sexual content (or references to the same) of any kind.
    • Violation of copyright laws as per the rules listed in this posting policy.
    • Hacking into the Web site, message board or a person's account.
    Please think very carefully before you make or take any action that will cause you to lose your posting privileges. Furthermore, in the event that an unlawful or criminal act has been committed on the Web site or its forums, we will not hesitate to immediately notify and cooperate fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. So ask yourself if it is really worth it.

  3. #3
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    because they are too young, you can't find good posts by them, and you can't tell them how to post, I can't help you

  4. #4
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    Young people are always going to be a little hyperactive. I wouldn't become a spam-nazi, but I would encourage lower levels in spam. Prehaps start a board for serious dicussions, in which the rules are more strongly uphelp. However don't have strict rules in every board or your young members will not feel wanted.
    Last edited by eldacar; Sep 21, 2006 at 19:50. Reason: you -> young
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what
    it might appear to others that what you were or might
    have been was not otherwise than what you had been
    would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

  5. #5
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    Dan Schulz- thanks for your post, it's a great help.

    eldacar- yes, youve given a good idea. The topic is "online games" but the forum does not have any of the real MMORPG type online gaming. Its now talking about the other flash games on the site etc. I think adding these new sections (& one for serious discussions) will draw in more expreienced users and retain the one's that we're losing.

    Btw, is there any way to control the spammers, or is a Mods life stuck with deleting 1st time poster spams?

  6. #6
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Require account activation on your forum. If a person wants to sign up, they have to click on a link sent via email to activate the account. This will dramatically cut down on the number of spammers hitting your forum (as most of them use dummy accounts anyway). Check your forum package's administration area for this feature.


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