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How many moderators do you think are needed for a community of a given size? Is there a rule of thumb about mods/capita (e.g. one mod per twenty users) or something?

My board is quite small membership-wise, basically 30ish active members plus some lurkers who un-lurk from time to time. When we started, we set it up to have 5 mods, partly because we didn't know how many we needed or how big the community would be. That seems like overkill now given our size and how much moderation seems to actually be needed (the member who generates the most mod activity is currently on a lengthy suspension and will probably be perma-banned if he doesn't clean up his act when he returns). Thus, I've mused to the team about dropping to 3 or 4 but there are considerations beyond size and activity. We also have to consider that we are in Canada and therefore span 6 time zones (plus a couple overseas members) so having more mods means we can have mods spread out geographically to cover a broader time range. E.g. after the mods in Atlantic and Eastern time zones are in bed, someone in Mountain or Pacific might still be around another hour or two.

So, I'm curious to know how other boards, esp. small ones, decide how big their mod team needs to be.

FYI, we keep a separation between mods and admins. Admins have mod powers but aren't supposed to be doing moderation save in an emergency (flamewar breaking out when no mods are on type stuff). That means the total of 5 moderators doesn't include the 3 admins who run the site both technologically and in terms of management (finances, user administration, etc.).
I don't think there's any magic number or anything. If your forums are actively and effectively moderated, I'd keep it where you're at and adjust if you feel it's no longer the case.
1. It depends on your target audience. Is your audience just locally (1 country 95%) or for people all over the world (like a gaming community).
2. Then it depends on how big your site is. 30 active users at any given time is very low.
3. It depends on if some categories/nodes of your forum require special expertise.

So you might want to consider these factors. For example if you have 10 nodes with each require special expertise, then you might need 10 moderators even though the site is small. (Assuming each of the moderators are only experts in their own one niche and not in multiple). Because moderation doesn't only mean resolving reports but it could also mean to moderate the topics people talk about which can require expertise.

If that is not the case, then you look how busy your forum is. 30 active users seems to be very low, so 1 moderator should be enough for example. But of course if your site is globally active, you might want to cover multiple timezones, so then you might want to have 3 or more mods to cover all timezones.

As a rule of thumb, I would look at how many reports you get each day. Let's say you get 10 reports each day. I would assume to resolve each report would take 5 minutes in average. It would mean 50 minutes of work has to be done. I think one moderator should be capable of doing that alone considering that moderator is averagely online for 1 hour each day. Let's say you would have 20 reports each day and that mod is averagely online for 1 hour each day, it would mean you have to get another moderator.
Totally depends on the amount of work. My site requires almost no moderation, the demographic is older folks so fewer punks and trolls. Pretty much the only thing my mods do is spam clean on occasion if I don't catch it. Honestly I could do it without them but they're great guys to bounce ideas of and gauge the temperature of the membership.

It also depends on how much time you spend or want to spend on there.
On my oldest and most established forum (which is not the busiest that I administer), we probably have too many moderators from a workload standpoint, but it's no big deal since we've been working together for 22 years now, and we're all friends.

On busy forums, the moderator staff and I look at our workload and coverage. Is our report queue and moderation queue falling behind? Then we need more help. Do we have holes in coverage? If we have a worldwide audience, we sometimes need staff during hours when the rest of us are working or sleeping. I try to treat the moderation staff like this: We don't expect you to sign on and "patrol" the forum, but to take care of business during times you normally visit the forum. So I would rather have more moderators do a lot less work, than have just a small number who can't even enjoy the forums since they spend all their time handling problems.

I personally try not to be a moderator. Keeping the technical side running smoothly and doing XenForo updates (including setting up new themes) is a big part of it, and I only step in when asked for an opinion on how I might handle an issue, or when a staffer asks me if XenForo has a feature or function that might help with a particular problem that has come up.

My experience with forums dates back to when Compuserve was text-based only, over dial-up, when after a few years I was made a "sysop" (aka moderator...a "wizop" was more like an administrator) of one of the forums I visited daily.
I personally try not to be a moderator. Keeping the technical side running smoothly and doing XenForo updates (including setting up new themes) is a big part of it, and I only step in when asked for an opinion on how I might handle an issue

Me, too, though I find it tempting at times. Our mods have tended to be fairly hands-off and lenient over the years in situations where mods on other boards I hang out on might step in quickly and firmly. But I have managed to resist the urge and just stay back and give advice.

We're going with four for now, but may even drop it down to 3 depending on what happens in the coming months. Thanks all.
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