When Staff are the problem

Mendalla

Well-known member
Anyone else had situations where it was staff mixing it up in a fight rather than just users? How do you handle a situation like that?

I haven't had one in a while but there was a blow-up in a politics thread yesterday that ended with two staff members (one mod and one admin) reporting each other. I was not around when it happened but arrived to find another mod had started a private conversation with those of us not involved. I was rather unamused and rather than engage in a lengthy discussion in that conversation (as tends to happen with our staff), I just posted in our private staff forum telling the two to shape up or face loss of staff privileges and a reply-ban from that thread. One protested via conversation and I just rather gruffly told her to read the post and not argue with me. The other seemed to accept my intervention. Has been quiet since and both have posted in other threads so I don't think I scared them off.

Too harsh? On the money? Should I have gone full ape on them?
 

webbouk

Well-known member
On the money - you saw an issue, addressed it, no compromise, no apologies sought, job done
 

JamesBrown

Well-known member
Moderators are responsible for killing more forums than they save. Do you even need them? I've run large forums for 15 years without a single staff member. There are addons, like crowd moderation that make this so easy. Making someone a moderator is often the same as giving someone a hi vis jacket, a clip board and a tiny bit of power; and we all know what happens then.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
Moderators are responsible for killing more forums than they save. Do you even need them? I've run large forums for 15 years without a single staff member. There are addons, like crowd moderation that make this so easy. Making someone a moderator is often the same as giving someone a hi vis jacket, a clip board and a tiny bit of power; and we all know what happens then.
We need moderation from time to time, but it is rare. I can't be there all the time given that we cover 5 time zones (6 if our Newfie member is around). Ditto the other admin. We are both in Eastern time and are generally in bed when activity is still happening on the West Coast. Still, I have shrunk the moderation team over the years as the board activity level has shrunk.

Anyhow, the staff causing the problem have been removed from their roles. While they have apologized to us for the disruption (and for some actions taken inappropriately using their mod powers, which is why I booted them), there are still active hostilities happening. I still have two admins and two mods which should be sufficient for now.
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
My oldest forum is over 25 years old now (and if you include a guestbook script I used prior to that, I'd say I've had a public side for 27 years now). I've had nearly the same team of moderators for most of those 25 years. No issues between them, although we had one who was rather opinionated and occasionally rankled members a bit. I have one now who occasionally jabs veiled politics into a post, but I think my last few deletions have made the point.

For one of the largest forums I manage, the moderation team is absolutely essential--they have a full workload, and despite having a dozen on staff, only four or five of them regularly contribute. Reports per day number at least a dozen; on some days, we'll have more than a page of reports the staff has worked through. Without them, the forum would have imploded within the first few years it existed. (It's almost reaching the 21 year mark.) Some of topics are contentious, and the forum owner has certain topics that need to be handled delicately due to industry connections (with many in the industry lurking as guests).

I did once have to "fire" a staff member here, though--he was using the staff position to push his opinions on others. We also had another staffer who had gone a bit rogue, and it took half of our staff resigning, or threatening to resign, before he decided he didn't want to be on the staff either. ("Well, I guess I'll quit also." Oblivious as to how he was butting heads.) No surprise, the staff that resigned or thought about it, suddenly returned to the staff. We had one get a bit snippy with us, but she also bailed of her own accord.

Not a bad record across 20 years, though.

On one forum I used to visit, though, it presents itself as a non-contentious alternative for members of other forums to join in conversation. Yet during the height of COVID, I was driven away when one self-proselytizing staff member tried pushing his anti-vax views on all of us. And for some reason, he was singling me out over the few times I posted, and I blew up publicly at him. I wasn't banned, as the other moderators completely understood. Yet it drove me away from a place I enjoyed. I did tell them both that as long as he was on staff, I would no longer be visiting. A couple of weeks later, he had numerous posts in the same thread and eventually stopped as everyone piled on.

The real irony in this is that he is a staff member in one of the larger forums in our niche and his behavior also ensured I would no longer visit that forum either. I'd been tapped to do a major XF upgrade for that forum, but I passed on the opportunity once he lost his nut on that other forum. I couldn't stomach conversing with him in the staff area of that larger forum any longer, since that happened.

So, yeah...both sides of the story here. Overall I'd say most of our staff experiences across numerous forums has been positive, and it's rare we have issues.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
Overall I'd say most of our staff experiences across numerous forums has been positive, and it's rare we have issues.
And I would say the same. This blowup was actually out of character for them. We did have problems with one of the "Holy Trinity" of admins who started the board but there were extenuating circumstances and he voluntarily bowed out of his role, to his credit. Which is when I started being the Xenforo wrangler since he had done the original install and the first upgrade or two (this was in the 1.3 days).
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
I was driven away when one self-proselytizing staff member tried pushing his anti-vax views on all of us.
We had an anti-vax member who was a full-blown "Bill Gates caused COVID" conspiracy theorist. We tried to work with her to confine those posts to a thread on that topic but she kept bringing it into other topics so the banhammer came out and, unlike another banned member who we recently welcomed back, she's persona non grata for the foreseeable future.
 

FTL

Well-known member
Did you do the right thing? Dunno, this is a classic devil's in the details situation. However, I'm not gonna judge you or demand that you to relate all the facts and to justify your decision in fine detail to me and the wider community, as it's not my place to do so.

In my general experience, it's usually one person being a douchebag (in the wrong) and the other pushing back against it, so the conversation is inevitably gonnna turn ugly. Crucially, who's in the wrong matters, not just telling them both off equally as usually happens, infuriatingly. That's how I run my forum and I'm glad to say that I've not had too many ugly situations there yet, thankfully. Where there were, it was pretty clear who was in the wrong and they were dealt with appropriately.
 
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Rhody

Well-known member
My oldest forum is just over 25 years in operation, and it's rare for one of the staff to get involved in a fight. We had problems about 10 years ago with members getting highly political with a right wing slant, and the fix was to give them their own (private) subforum dedicated to that stuff. If something made it on the main forums, it would be moved and they would get a warning. We probably lost a lot of folks because of the posts from that small group, before this was done. No problems since, and we have a great team. I started as a team member myself, and took it over when the founder retired.
 

Rhody

Well-known member
I'm intrigued. What forum software did it use in 1997 and did it look something like a modern forum such as this one?

I forgot the name of the original s/w for the first 6 months, but it was web based and the contents didn't get converted.

I recall we had UltimateBB, UBB Threads, vBulletin, and then finally upgraded to Xenforo.
 
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Baby Community

Well-known member
Anyone else had situations where it was staff mixing it up in a fight rather than just users? How do you handle a situation like that?

I haven't had one in a while but there was a blow-up in a politics thread yesterday that ended with two staff members (one mod and one admin) reporting each other. I was not around when it happened but arrived to find another mod had started a private conversation with those of us not involved. I was rather unamused and rather than engage in a lengthy discussion in that conversation (as tends to happen with our staff), I just posted in our private staff forum telling the two to shape up or face loss of staff privileges and a reply-ban from that thread. One protested via conversation and I just rather gruffly told her to read the post and not argue with me. The other seemed to accept my intervention. Has been quiet since and both have posted in other threads so I don't think I scared them off.

Too harsh? On the money? Should I have gone full ape on them?
I would never allow such a situation. I get it directly from management...

Also, too many administrative staff is not good. 3-4 people are enough.
 

Miri

Well-known member
Anyone else had situations where it was staff mixing it up in a fight rather than just users? How do you handle a situation like that?

I haven't had one in a while but there was a blow-up in a politics thread yesterday that ended with two staff members (one mod and one admin) reporting each other. I was not around when it happened but arrived to find another mod had started a private conversation with those of us not involved. I was rather unamused and rather than engage in a lengthy discussion in that conversation (as tends to happen with our staff), I just posted in our private staff forum telling the two to shape up or face loss of staff privileges and a reply-ban from that thread. One protested via conversation and I just rather gruffly told her to read the post and not argue with me. The other seemed to accept my intervention. Has been quiet since and both have posted in other threads so I don't think I scared them off.

Too harsh? On the money? Should I have gone full ape on them?
If it happens to me:

Immediate removal from the position of the member who has misbehavior and absolute ban from accessing the forum for n days. And I wouldn't waste even 1 second with messages, flags and reports explaining why. He will also set an example for others.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
I have brought one back in. The other decided to remain out of the staff role for the time being. Things have quieted. All is well.

Except that anti-vaxxer I mentioned tried for the umpteenth time to sign up a new account. She is completely clueless about tech so seemingly doesn't realize I can tell by her IP and the fact that she keeps using her real name in her email addresses. Put a discourage on the IP this time but I know she's also been bugging the mods at the shared email they use. Told them to flag her as junk, I think.
 

aussiefooty

Well-known member
One bloke on a forum that i'm on decided to hack the main admin's account and then merged it with his own to give himself powers.
Just like what you're having troubles with @Mendalla I find that it's easier to nuke the site altogether and restart it.
If people get upset ban them asap.
 

RaptureForums

Active member
I agree with those that said that the fewer staff members you have the better. I think that is true. I have had to resort to running my site by myself for the past several months and while I was nervous at first as I can't be on there all the time, I have come to appreciate not having to ask others what they think about this or that. It's very simplified and I am liking that. (y)
 
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