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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Alvin63

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...
I agree, but the tone on posts is very critical. A moderator, although also a member and replying to peoples posts, shouldn't be quite so critical and strong minded. I am thinking about this. On the one hand everyone can express different opinions and there are different personalities on there. On the other hand it is almost like picking a fight with people and wanting to be right all the time! Which is unfair on other members and is setting a tone for the forum I am not keen on.

I think I will definitely set some moderator rules and have a moderator "meeting" on the forum to discuss how we perceive moderators roles. Actually he has been a total pain from the moment he joined (despite bringing lots of people with him) and wanting to change the whole forum structure (some tips I said I;d look into, others I ignored).

Somebody said he sounded a bit off his rocker. I am wondering that now. Very black and white. There are only 12 subject nodes on my forum - he says it';s too many - it should be no more than 9 or people won't bother to look at them all, and there should be sub categories in those 9. Why?! I did do the softly approach and said well I did look at sub categories at one time but they tend to get overlooked in a main forum heading and I think 12 is ok and some is the style of the forum software and suggested he had a look at Websleuths (which has masses of categories!).

A soft exit - any suggestions?
 

zappaDPJ

Well-known member
A soft exit - any suggestions?
So you now know power is easy to give but so much harder to take away, a lesson many forum owners have learnt the hard way. The only way I can see for a soft exit is through one to one dialogue but after reading through the thread the chances of success seem remote.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and reap the consequences for the long term benefit of your community i.e. demote and if necessary ban the moderator.

You could try and start a conversation without demotion. Focus on the positives i.e. all suggestions are welcome, thanking the moderator for their time etc. If that doesn't work I guess you'll have to demote and take it from there.
 

sbj

Well-known member
Man up and just talk in private with that moderator.

Explain that you appreciate his efforts and (probably) his good intentions, but you don't like the attitude of him trying to be the center of the world. Ask him that you want him to change his attitude or otherwise you have to unmod him. Explain him that it is just a forum and that nobody needs to act like that they own the place. And if there is one who should be do it, that it'll be you as the owner. But since you don't find that prima donna show okay, that nobody gets to be a jerk, including him. Tell him that you are adults and everyone has his own way of doing things and this is your way of doing it. Ask him either to accept or to leave the position. No hard feelings.
 

Alvin63

Member
Man up and just talk in private with that moderator.

Explain that you appreciate his efforts and (probably) his good intentions, but you don't like the attitude of him trying to be the center of the world. Ask him that you want him to change his attitude or otherwise you have to unmod him. Explain him that it is just a forum and that nobody needs to act like that they own the place. And if there is one who should be do it, that it'll be you as the owner. But since you don't find that prima donna show okay, that nobody gets to be a jerk, including him. Tell him that you are adults and everyone has his own way of doing things and this is your way of doing it. Ask him either to accept or to leave the position. No hard feelings.
That sounds good. I already did something though. I did a group message for moderators (only two of them) and said - wondered if anyone had any suggestions for things that could be added to forum rules, as they're fairly brief. And another moderator might be joining us soon (true), and wondered if we should also have some moderator rules for consistency. Copied and pasted these from another site: Maybe that wasn't quite subtle enough..... I'll see if it has any effect but I suspect he is just this really angry person overlording it over everyone and won;t get it.

  • Moderators should always be calm and polite, even when users are not.
  • Moderators should never be rude to members.
  • Moderators should not use their power based on their opinion
  • Moderators should try to inform users when they remove their content or mute them.
  • Moderators should offer helpful rule explanations, tips, and links to new or confused users.
  • Moderators can engage in and be involved in discussions but seek to support users who see them as setting a tone for the forum and behaviour of others.
 
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Alvin63

Member
So you now know power is easy to give but so much harder to take away, a lesson many forum owners have learnt the hard way. The only way I can see for a soft exit is through one to one dialogue but after reading through the thread the chances of success seem remote.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and reap the consequences for the long term benefit of your community i.e. demote and if necessary ban the moderator.

You could try and start a conversation without demotion. Focus on the positives i.e. all suggestions are welcome, thanking the moderator for their time etc. If that doesn't work I guess you'll have to demote and take it from there.
Yep. Dynamics as well. Either this person has had a personality change or has turned power crazy. But being rude to other members (whatever idiotic things they might say!) is not on. Or to me either!
 

Alvin63

Member
I think it's been a mistake having the same moderator team, just because they were moderators on the old forum. The other one is fine - but hardly ever around. But head screwed on and ok.
 

nicodak

Well-known member
A soft exit - any suggestions?
The soft exit should be perceived as such by the members of the forum not necessarily by the moderator, obviously you have to oust him so it will be brutal since he will go from moderator to member in an instant, a safe bet he will leave the forum later, maybe prepare for a GDPR request from him. So the main thing is to calmly explain to the community the reasons for leaving so that everything is clear to everyone.
 

Alvin63

Member
Thanks. So the group moderator message I sent asking for ideas for additions to the code of conduct and suggesting a set of moderator rules, received a response (to the group of three including me) from the ok moderator who said yes good idea and added a section saying
" Moderators are, at the end of the day, human beings and this is a highly emotional subject and they will try and agree to this Code of Conduct at all times, however, should you feel they fall short, you should approach another Moderator about this."

Which is helpful. The mod in question hasn't responded as yet. I am wondering if he will just go quiet now. I've had to message a couple of members apologising if they felt they had had over the top negative responses and said it was being sorted out. This is something I didn't expect!

How do you mean a GDPR request?
 

Alvin63

Member
I am still thinking about doing what sbj suggested as well and contact him personally. But I think that would lead to him instantly just leaving the forum - he seems very superior and angry right now and would take anything as personal criticism I think. Or just argue with me and tell me I'm wrong, which is the current pattern. I think he really wants his own forum with his own agenda.
 

Alvin63

Member
I'm looking at trying to buy the old forum domain name actually - using a broker (seems to be the only way to get contact). It'll probably cost too much but I could look at merging them then. Although do I really want that messy forum on my hands?!
 

Alvin63

Member
Many many thousands of posts over about 12 years - but virtually nothing over the past three years. It's a Dad support forum (both forums are) with resources for those going to court on their own. That kind of thing. Most of the content on the old unmanaged one is well out of date and incorrect but it does get a lot of interest via seo. Except people join it - post and find there's no one around to answer! Hence I started the new one six months ago. It's probably a no go. If it was recently sold (which it was) then probably for a fairly high sum and new owner hasn't done anything with it. It does make money apparently. I'm not actually interested in it for that - I just want one that does the job and gets seen easily. A bit of a mission.
 

webbouk

Well-known member
Work on what you have got and invest in it. If people are going to the old forum via search engines, then invest in Google Ads to pay for clicks, the audience is there they just need to know you are.
Taking on a dead in the water forum is always going to be risky, especially if it comes with baggage.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
I'm looking at trying to buy the old forum domain name actually - using a broker (seems to be the only way to get contact). It'll probably cost too much but I could look at merging them then. Although do I really want that messy forum on my hands?!
Just buying the domain name though doesn’t give you the right or access to the database though, so that would be another expense
 
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