The primary goal of any community moderator has to be to serve their community in an essentially selfless manner. Neither the exact medium or the fundamental theme of the community matters at all, as the sole predominant factor which the moderator must work towards is to ensure that the online community is seen by its participants as worthy of ongoing commitment and engaged interaction. You must always keep in mind that the interest in a particular topic or the ability to seamlessly interact with other like-minded individuals is only part of the appeal of your community, as the primary factors are the quality of your community members’ interaction with each other and the value which is provided to each and every participant.

Some are contentious, others are wallflowers
As a community moderator you will be dealing with all sorts of people. Some will be contentious, while others are wallflowers. There are going to be the active participants who can’t help but type voluminous comments on the slightest issues while there are others who may very well spend years lurking in the shadows before entering a one line post. You’ll have the privilege of meeting some of the finest people you’ll ever know, and have to put up with others who have no reason to reside anywhere but a padded cell.
Dealing with the 12 year old nihilists
Every community is marred to some extent by the expulsive individuals saddled with the immature minds of 12 year old nihilists who will go out of their way to pick fights with responsible members of your community, adopt the expletive-laden vocabulary of the terminal haters, and violate every single standard you set out. What will mark you as a superlative community moderator in the eyes of your participants will be the way you deal with this inevitability. If you reflexively go toe to toe with these online vandals and “give as good as you get” you will telegraph to your participants that the actions of these online saboteurs have hit home to you, thus displaying your vulnerability. The online world is much like the wild savannah in that as soon as one of the herd shows vulnerability, the hyenas will soon pounce and feast. Never let your shield of authority and fairness be cracked, or your community will immolate before your very eyes.
Key factors to strive towards
Some of the key factors that any community moderator should strive towards are:

  1. Start off with minimal structure and allow the group to evolve its own processes over time.
  2. Greet newcomers with sincere enthusiasm and take the time to show them the ropes.
  3. Get your participants comfortable in their community setting by making them feel welcome.
  4. Don’t sanction individuals for violating your procedures unless you can be confident that it was a malicious act.
  5. Pontification makes for bad moderation so speak directly to individuals and don’t deliver vague lectures.
  6. Use your community’s software capabilities to hide or delete objectionable comments and content.
  7. Promote reaction to comments and encourage your community members to follow suit.
  8. Recruit the more active and responsible members to assist you in your duties for the sake of the community at large.
  9. Nurture the development and participation of “gurus” with specialized knowledge and experience.
  10. Ladle out the compliments and praise both through public and private messaging.
  11. Avoid making a scapegoat out of a violator by applying enforcements in a fair and firm manner.
  12. Make sure that your entire community is crystal clear on what constitutes reasonable use and what is a violation.
  13. Ask for feedback and be ready to accept any and all constructive criticism.
  14. Grow a much thicker skin and consider it part of the job as there will be many times when you could be offended or hurt.
  15. Swing the ban hammer only when all other possible alternatives have been applied with no success.

A community is only as great as its moderator, and if you are duly dedicated to the development of your group you must commit to excellence in every aspect!