Issue 10
 
In this issue of conduit:
 
1) Featured Question and Answer: "How Do I Get People to Post?"
2) Your Community Answer: Microsoft As A Community Builder?
3) Community Wire: An Interview With Seasoned Moderator, Sally Irvin
4) Community Voice: "You know you've been moderating for too long when..."
 

 
Featured Question and Answer
"How Do I Get People to Post?"
 
This issue's question was submitted by a visitor who is having trouble getting users to post on the board of his site. The question was submitted as follows;

I have an education website and we're trying to get the word out about our message board. Before we included the message board, we were receiving a lot of emails asking for adviceNow when we direct our readers to the message board to submit their questions we receive next to no posts! The board has been up and running for several months with no light at the end of the tunnel! Can you give me a solution to motivate our readers to post their questions on our message board? Many thanks.

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Your Community Answer
Microsoft As A Community Builder?
 
Microsoft has recently suggested that its emphasis on online community will give it the edge over game console rivals. Do you view Microsoft as a community builder?
 
Let us know what you think! Share your vote now!
 

 
Community Wire
An Interview With Seasoned Moderator, Sally Irvin

Community Answers: Sally, how and when did you get started as a moderator? 
 
Sally: My first moderating job was in 1999.  I was looking for something to do while trying to get a business as an Internet Researcher started and I answered an ad.  After an online interview I was hired and then given training to become a professional moderator for both boards and chat. 
 
My first of several assignments was with the Martha Stewart Living site where I moderated the "Gardening" chat, and I also moderated the "Home" chat quite a bit.  I started with the idea that this was something I could do "in the meantime" and found that I loved moderating enough to make it my primary focus and goal!
 
Community Answers: Please share with us one of your most memorable experiences as a moderator.  
 
Sally: When I was working on the Martha Stewart site it wasn't unusual for members to become familiar and comfortable with each other - similar to an extended family.  One day in the Gardening chat room one of my members came into the room really down.  His pet cat had died.  This member was the only person in my chat room at the time so we just talked. Since I have several cats myself, I understood the depth of his loss by realizing what it would mean to me.   This sort of broke the ice with him and I always looked forward to seeing him during my shifts. 
 
Community Answers: What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a moderator?
 
Sally: All moderators face "unruly" rooms at one time or another where everyone wants to talk at once and if a member doesn't get the floor they tend to get upset.  You have to learn to relax and then "untangle" the discussion by asking both direct and indirect questions to give each member a chance to discuss what they want to. 
 
Sometimes it's as simple as saying: "Jane, why don't you ask your question first and then we'll give Mary a chance to speak."  Other times, if the discussion is more of a "flame" or argument you can ask questions or make statements to gently guide the chat in a different direction. 
 
I think the biggest challenge I ever faced, and thankfully not very often, was when someone in a room just wouldn't settle down and did their best to cause trouble.  This could have been anything from an off-topic subject they kept trying to bring up, insulting other members, or using profanity, to give a few examples. 
 
It is always hard to decide when it is time to remove someone from a room and block their access.  It is not just a matter of kicking them out - they should be warned (privately) and if the situation doesn't improve, blocked.  No one likes that part of the job. 
 
Another challenge is when the room is slow and you feel like you're trying to pull teeth to get a topic started.  I found that if you asked pointed questions on how someone would do something or what their favorite flower was, how they'd redecorate a room, etc., it often helped. 
 
The job of a moderator is to make people a part of the community and help them to enjoy their experience safely in the chat room or on a message board.  On the lighter side, I found it a "personal" challenge to be in a lively chat room and uh-oh, you've drank too much tea!  LOL  That is a challenge of still another kind!  Luckily no one can see your face when you're online!  ;) 
 
 
Community Answers: Based upon your own interests, what would be your ideal moderation assignment? 
 
Sally: Since I have a wide range of interests that's a tough question!  When I think back, the assignments I enjoyed most were moderating when the topics allowed for a wide range of discussion within the general topic.  Such as gardening,  we talked about methods in many different types of climate and soil and what to do during different times of the year...along with the different plants and needs.  I loved learning from the members and also searching and finding information for their questions.  
 
I like lively discussion and love to learn new things so I would enjoy being in rooms where I had enough knowledge not to feel or sound like a fool and could still learn from the members of my community.  Today, I think I would enjoy being in a community that was discussing current events, books, women's issues, or new technology. 
 
However, my ideal assignment would be in a community that was well-structured with listed rules of conduct and a supervisor or manager that could be reached easily for questions or problems.  The community manager sets the tone for the moderators just as the moderator sets the tone for the discussion, both boards and chat, so I think it's important to have an experienced and approachable supervisor.
 
Community Answers: If you had some words of advice to give other moderators, what would they be? 
 
Sally: For me, the training was important in that it gave me the knowledge and confidence to do my job.  It was also a resource for me if I had questions.  So, if you have the opportunity -go through training and always be willing to get additional training.  Several of my jobs have required training for a site's particular community and software and I was very glad to participate and learn more
 
I'd suggest that your environment around the computer be a pleasant one and conducive to your concentration.  Personally, I have found soft music and lighting to be helpful. 
 
In the past, during quiet times in chat I would read or do some surfing in connection with the topic I was moderating, setting the controls to warn me if someone entered the room. And although many people joke about being able to wear pajamas to work I never did.  I found that I felt more professional and at ease by wearing casual street clothes to do my work.
 
Finally, relax and enjoy yourself!  It is so important and if you're enjoying your job it is going to come across to the community. 
 

 
Community Voice
"You know you've been moderating for too long when..."
 
...someone enters a room, even your own family, and you say "Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Thank you for joining us."
 
...you don't throw junk mail away.  You try to delete it and server ban the person who sent it.
 
...you see graffiti on a wall, you look for an IP Address or an e-mail so you can contact the person about editing their message.
 
...to you m.p.h. means Messages Per Hour.
 
...you go to a concert and expect to see a list of the other attendees alongside the stage.
 
...you go out to dinner with friends, you let them know there will be a transcript of the conversation posted on your web site in a day or two.
 
...you cannot remember the last time you posted a real letter, but you know to the second the last time you posted to your message board.
 
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