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Ever had an unidentifiable moderator leak information? And how did you deal with it?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by CyclingTribe, Sep 25, 2011.

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  1. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    This weekend a banned member of one of my forums emailed me with the thread title from our private moderators forum.

    This is on the back of a particularly difficult weekend which has resulted in several bans (which I can only assume hasn't been seen as fair by all of the moderators).

    I've checked everything possible and I don't think he's actually had access to the private forum, just been told the details (by a moderator) of the particular thread concerning him (I believe he would have gone to town if he'd genuinely had access!).

    I've asked for the moderator concerned to contact me privately and discuss why they felt they needed to share the info (I just want to understand, and if needed, make changes to ensure it doesn't happen again) - but if they don't it leaves me in rather a predicament:

    How can I trust my moderators again without replacing each and every one of them?

    I've always been honest and up-front with my mod team and they've always been able to say what they think, even if that goes against everyone else (it's never held against them) so it has come as a bit of a surprise.

    They are a great team and a good deal of the board's success goes to them for their fair and consistent moderating, so I really don't want to trash the current team/setup, but without knowing who broke the trust it is difficult to carry on as before without the possibility of more information being leaked.

    Have you ever been in a similar situation, and what did you do to address it?

    Shaun :D
  2. AdrianH

    AdrianH Active Member

    A private forum is just that and the content should not be divulged. Clearly this moderator cannot be trusted with your control panel or the integrity of your site, I would have removed him/her permanently as soon as this came to light.
  3. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    The point is, I don't know who it is!! :(
  4. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    I don't really consider my private forums private tbh

    How many people have access?
    Darkimmortal likes this.
  5. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman Well-Known Member

    The bird cage.

    You tell all of your mods the same basic information. In the info, you pick a couple of small, unimportant details and you change them for each mod. Then you wait and see which story come back.
    hellreturn likes this.
  6. The Dark Wizard

    The Dark Wizard Well-Known Member

  7. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    Bear in mind though that you shouldn't write things about people that you wouldn't want made public in the first place. Even in my private forums I wouldn't write anything about my members that could be taken as offensive to the individual. Remember things published on the internet even in private areas have a way of leaking out, always.
    Darkimmortal likes this.
  8. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    Obviously I don't know what was written, was just passing comment and assumed you were annoyed because of the content of the thread.
  9. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    No, it's the break of trust.

    Nothing untoward was said about the person, but our moderator private forum is somewhere we share opinion and discuss action, and each mod is free to say what they think - which, if made public, might not go down to well.

    I suspect the moderator in question feels the ban was unjust and that the conduct of the rest of us was questionable, but in the past people have felt they can openly question things and we've then resolved them with group discussion.

    Perhaps the "fix" is to make moderation public, but having every mod decision picked apart in public would probably be more time consuming and lead to the need for yet further moderation.

    I also allow my moderators to be hidden (if the want to be) so this causes further difficulties with members trying to second-guess who the hidden moderators are and being suspicious of the wrong people.

    I probably need to review how we approach moderation, but the only way I can see forward is to replace the entire mod team.

    Shaun :D
  10. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Just out of interest, how public or private are your moderators and mod discussions and actions?

    Do you publish moderation actions?
  11. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    I don't really need to moderate tbh but when I do I post what I've done in the thread.

    I did have a moderation discussion thread stickied for people to discuss mods policy/actions but no one misbehaves anymore so I ended up just unpinning it.
  12. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman Well-Known Member

    I would suggest that you are overreacting to what you feel is a betrayal of trust. You mentioned that you have a good team and that much of your success is owed to them. It doesn't make sense to toss out the lot based on the actions of one.

    You might consider creating a private thread there for your mods only, being honest about what happened, how it makes you feel and what you are considering doing in response. If you're ready to cut loose the bunch of them, what have you got to lose?

    Consider this. I knew of a forum that once had a similar problem. All mods were let go. Some stayed on as users, but were cranky and negative. Others started their own forums (they know the software now) and syphoned off users. The place was never the same.

    Tread carefully. Communities are fragile things.
    Kim, a legacy reborn and lazy llama like this.
  13. Dodgeboard

    Dodgeboard Well-Known Member

    The problem with coming down on a moderator (at all) is you have to remember that they are working for free (in most cases) and the only thing they normally derive from the position is an elevated level of power. Sometimes that power goes to their head.

    This is why I don't hand out moderator duties to just anyone. A moderator on a power trip can do a lot of damage to your community. Sometimes that power exhibits itself in a "see what I know" fashion.

    I have just one moderator and myself to moderate the forums. It's more work for me, but it keeps things simple.

    You are in a delicate situation. I would tell you that you should consider trimming the fat, reducing the moderator positions. Then work on building trust with the moderators that you keep, so they support your decisions and you support theirs. Think twice before giving out any new moderator positions in the future.

    And NEVER NEVER NEVER reward donations or contributions with a moderator position.

    I see 5 moderators and 2 admins on your site of 89 members. That's a ratio of 1 to 12. Your ratio should be more like 1 to 2000 or even 1 to 5000. Have you ever considered that you are top heavy? What criteria do you use to open and fill moderator positions? Do you need that many mods? You should be a community of members, not a community of mods. With this many mods you are going to have problems with cliques and disagreements.
  14. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    Just to clarify Dodgeboard, it's not GeeksChat - the board in question has around 18,000 members and 23 global mods.

    I can't see any real damage has been done to the site so I suspect it is a small thing that someone has done in protest at recent modding actions; rather than any real intent to disrupt or destroy the general running of the site.

    I think a review of policy and a few changes are probably the order of the day.

    Thanks for the sound advice everyone.

    I'm sure it'll sort if we treat it positively and make the changes needed to stop it happening again in the future.

    Shaun :D
  15. Dodgeboard

    Dodgeboard Well-Known Member

    Good luck. :) Let us know how it turns out.
  16. Dean

    Dean Well-Known Member

    Never assume malice when a mistake is a possibility.

    If it were me I'd start by asking in the mod forum "Any idea how ___ knew about this thread?"
  17. EQnoble

    EQnoble Well-Known Member

  18. Sador

    Sador Well-Known Member

    This, I'd never do. How do you think they feel, if they've worked hard for ages to help, and then get kicked because someone else -might- have leaked information intentionally?
    Darkimmortal likes this.
  19. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I've come round to that way of thinking.

    The more I think about it and look into it, the more I feel it has been a protest gesture at my handling of a particular modding case. (Despite a small amount of info being passed on, I cannot find any other breaches and cannot see any damage done to the board.)

    I don't suppose the moderator who has done it will come forward - they've made their point - but I will review how we do things from here on in and hopefully make positive changes that will be good for both mods and members.

    We've never really had any formalisation of the moderation - maybe now is the time. It's also possibly now time to make all mods public (although I think that will be a bumpy road to start with!!).

    Thanks again for the feedback, and hopefully we can make something good out of it and avoid similar happening again in the future.

    Shaun :D
  20. Blue

    Blue Well-Known Member

    I had a Mod that was 2 timing me once. I never let on but I never trusted that Mod again.
    Like the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer...
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