Poaching members

Alvin63

Member
So I originally set up my forum because I had been on a forum that had died a death. There were a few old hardened members like myself left - no admin on the forum, it was full of spam and software broken (no new sign ups for about 18 months). I was a moderator on there with a couple of others. We managed to track down the owner and ask if he wanted to hand it over as it wasn't really working without any admin. At first he said he was happy to offload it. Didn't have time. But then changed his mind and wanted to sell it (for rather a lot of money).

So in the end I decided to set up my own (my xenforo forum). Which started off very slowly and has slowly but gradually been building up with its own new members, along with a few I had known on the old forum who I discreetly emailed and told them about the new one.

My forum has been going for about six months. The old forum is just sitting there filling up with spam! I quite liked the domain name and thought I'd try again to see again if the owner of the old forum wanted to offload it (or just sell the domain for a reasonable price) with thoughts of merging them. As by then one of the old mods had managed to fix new sign ups (although most of them were still spam). But the owner had already sold it on to someone some time ago. Apparently it was making quite an income annually, just sitting there, despite being like a graveyard with very old software.

So at the point I thought - what the heck - and I emailed the remaining moderator on there discreetly (again - he had decided to try and improve the old one initially, hoping the new owner would knock it into shape) and said - a lot of us have moved elsewhere - come and join. Which he did. Suddenly I was getting loads of sign ups every day. He said - ah that's because I put a sticky on every thread on the old forum telling everyone to come here.

So my point is - should I be concerned?!! That I am basically getting loads of traffic and new members to my forum, via members signing up to another forum and seeing the messages to come to my forum! I haven't done it myself so presumably am not liable and if he hadn't told me I wouldn't have known. I'm not particularly concerned that the spam people will sign up on my forum because they seem to just post rather than read stickies - and the spam filter on xenforo has weeded out the odd one that tried.

The old forum is so dead that nobody has even taken the stickies down or even seems to be involved with it. But just wondering if that kind of poaching is in any way illegal - or just bad form. It's more than poaching actually as it's basically using the old forum as a redirect.

It was one thing to tell existing members (who were as frustrated as me) about the new forum - but another thing to poach sign ups to the old forum.

The old forum - being old and well placed in google - picks up traffic very easily. But people signing up find they post and nobody answers! Because the only members there are new members in the same boat - plus masses of spam posts. So it's kind of doing them a favour - but ...
 
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sbj

Well-known member
Legally, you have nothing to worry about.

Morally, it might be questionable perhaps but in your case I wouldn't worry about it either.

The old forum owner can delete that whenever he wants it, it is his obligation to take care of his own site. It is not your problem what happens on that site.

Of course benefitting from it is questionable, but as you say you didn't ask for that and even if you did, the site is dead. It is morally questionable having a dead site and gaining income from that. Basically the site is useless to the visitor but the owner gets an income from being useless? He is abusing the search rankings to his favour without doing nothing. So, I see no problem doing the same thing to him. At least, I hope so, the new guests landing on your site get something out of it. They are not misused like on the old site.

Also, you trying to ask about it shows that you have some form of integrity. Don't worry about it. But this doesn't mean it is a free ticket to try to exploit it further. Then I would question your integrity.
 

Alvin63

Member
Thank you for those two thoughtful responses. sbj I agree, I think there is a limit to how long I can let this continue. We now have the old moderator team on the new forum which is good. I do find it totally bizarre that a forum could be left in that state. I assume its clickbait or something. There wouldn't have been any new sign ups at all if the last moderator standing (lets call him H) hadn't fixed the sign up issues. Still trying to get my head round it a bit! But H had had enough too and wanted an active, managed forum again. I can't actually delete his stickies on the old forum - only he can! But I think I should have a word and say - call it a day now.
 

JRobert

Active member
But I think I should have a word and say - call it a day now.
This is what I would do. It's one thing to send PMs to a few members suggesting they sign up for your forum, or even a single post telling people at the old forum about your new forum. But adding a sticky post to every thread is a bit of overkill (in my opinion) and likely to make the owner angry when he discovers it. I'd ask the moderator at the old forum to take down the stickies and maybe just make a single post about your forum.
 

Alvin63

Member
Ok so now I'm having a few problems with this moderator! Firstly he is on his high horse on a lot of threads promoting his own views as to how people on the forum should be thinking - and using capitals! He's supposed to be moderating, not disrupting. I sense that he wants to be running the show really, having just moved over from a dying forum where he was trying to change things and getting nowhere. It's actually putting people off.

I'm in the tricky position of feeling I need to moderate his posts! He seems very angry a lot. the difficulty being - we were all equally moderators on the old forum (with him being the newer kid on the block). I think that we are on my current forum, even though I'm admin - but if the forum is going to change it's outlook there needs to be discussion first. Discussion doesn't seem possible as he sounds so strong minded about what he wants it to be.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
That moderator seems unhinged. Putting a sticky on every forum/thread telling members to go somewhere else, is not reasonable and quite a bit overboard. Being angry, aggressive, pedantic and disruptive disqualifies a person from being a moderator. A moderator should be level headed and resolving disruption.

If you don't have moderator guidelines, then write those up. This way moderators know what is and what is not expected of them. If that doesn't help, talk to the moderator. If that doesn't help then thank him for his help and let him go.

Also: Im a big proponent of letting staff start as junior moderators with limited functionality. That way new staff does not have destructive powers and the likelyhood of a moderator getting on a powertrip is less likely.
 

Alvin63

Member
That moderator seems unhinged. Putting a sticky on every forum/thread telling members to go somewhere else, is not reasonable and quite a bit overboard. Being angry, aggressive, pedantic and disruptive disqualifies a person from being a moderator. A moderator should be level headed and resolving disruption.

If you don't have moderator guidelines, then write those up. This way moderators know what is and what is not expected of them. If that doesn't help, talk to the moderator. If that doesn't help then thank him for his help and let him go.

Also: Im a big proponent of letting staff start as junior moderators with limited functionality. That way new staff does not have destructive powers and the likelyhood of a moderator getting on a powertrip is less likely.

Thanks all. Alpha1 that is a very good idea having moderator rules. What are yours? I just had to update the forum rules to "Don't use capitalised words - it sounds like shouting" - embarrassing when it was him! edited them.

Yes I only have soft delete for moderators.
 

Alan_SP

Active member
You just remove him from moderators team, this will solve your problem with him, and his posts on original forum. Move on, don't overthink it.

You're owner, you set the tone, you make the rules, and you have to enforce them. For good or bad, you're the man in charge.
 

JamesBrown

Well-known member
Why have moderators at all? I manage large forums without a single moderator. For every great mod there will be 6 who do more harm than good. Sack the lot and moderate it yourself.
 

nicodak

Well-known member
I'm not for the hard way, some members might find the method a bit abrupt and start to have a bad opinion of the way the forum is run. If I understand this moderator has brought many members to your forum, it may include a number of his friends who could also take it badly and disrupt the forum. Try to find a soft exit for this moderator considering what he has done for you, gaining tens (hundreds?) of members without doing anything is a real godsend...
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
My mod rules are fairly simple. We are a team and act like one. Disputes over moderation get settled backstage, not in public. You don't have to endorse the decision, just don't argue against it in front of the membership (yes. I once forced a mod to resign when he publicly argued against a ban). Beyond that, just the rules of the board. If a mod breaks the rules, I'll happily discipline them and maybe strip them of their mod powers if the other mods agree.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
Why have moderators at all? I manage large forums without a single moderator. For every great mod there will be 6 who do more harm than good. Sack the lot and moderate it yourself.
So you handle all the trolls, spammers, etc. yourself? Or do you have co-admins who help with stuff like that? I'm actually glad I can leave policing the bs to someone else and focus on keeping the wheels turning. Also, while our membership is largely confined to Canada (not by the rules or anything, it's just the nature of the site), that still covers like 6 time zones. I am hitting the sack while folks on the West Coast are still actively posting. Having a team lets us make sure there's someone available by having a mod on that coast.
 

Alpha1

Well-known member
Alpha1 that is a very good idea having moderator rules. What are yours?
Its a 3500 words wiki, followed by a discussion thread that explains more. It covers things like:
  1. staff security
  2. required presence
  3. attitude towards members
  4. involvement with members
  5. when to bow out
  6. how to bow out
  7. the responsibilities
  8. how to perform moderation duties & functionality
  9. how to act on rule breaches
  10. information on site policy and rules
  11. different content types
  12. handling support tickets
  13. first steps as a new moderator.
  14. XenForo moderating functionality videos. (search youtube and vimeo to find those)
Much of the above is dependent upon how you want to run your community. You will have to figure that out and define it. It will likely change over time, as your site goes through phases.
 
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