As I have already mentioned, I have been a moderator and an administrator for several game servers. Today I thought I’d go into some tips that may help the new moderator. Moderators are arguably the backbone of any community. They are the social side to the server like police officers on the beat. You know they are there and it makes most feel at ease, although there will always be a small majority who feel threatened by the pseudo authority and will always make our lives, as moderators, administrators, or even regular users, difficult. Many of us refer to them as trolls or trolling individuals, and it’s not always their fault that they are trolls. De-individuation is a common reason for trolling behaviour, however, that’s got little to do with this article.
Don’t Expect to Be a Hero!
A moderator’s job is a thankless one. If you are only joining the ranks of moderator because you think that you will have the ground that you walk on worshiped, you will be sorely disappointed! Moderators are usually blamed for everything regardless of whether or not it is genuinely their fault or otherwise. The most you are likely to get as a moderator is a thank you from the odd member of the user base. Fellow moderators and the administrators will rarely, if ever, thank you. They will tell you when you are doing things wrong or when you mess up.
Strong Personality is Key
As I mentioned above, you will rarely, if ever, get thanked for the amount of voluntary hours you put in because you love the community that you are a part of. It is always helpful and beneficial to have a strong personality or to be someone who doesn’t need praise or thanks to “do good work.” I’d even go as far as to say that if you care, moderating won’t be for you — which is a contradiction for me, because I do generally care and like things to be seen as fair. However, thanks to being a moderator and an administrator, I have seen that no matter what happens, you, the moderator, will always be seen as the idiot even if you’re not.
Wrong is the New Right
It never ceases to amaze and surprise me how users can and will always blame the server or the moderator for not pointing out things that the user failed to take notice of from the start. In technical support lingo they failed to RTFM (read the… freaking manual) — Google works wonders, doesn’t it? The main point is that as a moderator you will always but always be wrong. It’s as the old adage goes: “The customer is always right; even when they are wrong, they’re right!” I, like many moderators, have chosen the route of least resistance and set up the server or modified my game instance to tell users every five minutes or so about the rules, the code of conduct, and any events that are up and coming on the server.
When a Troll Comes Along, You Must Zip It!
As much as it can be fun to troll a troll, it can backfire on the moderator if he or she is new to the rank. Even I have partaken in some counter-trolling fun with a troll, although it is seen on some servers to be bad form and that, as a moderator, you are a higher class of user. I think that idea is completely ludicrous, but then it’s not my server. The best way to troll a troll is to mute them. It doesn’t sound like much, but take it from me, it annoys them completely and utterly. If they can’t talk, then they can’t troll, so their fun becomes completely pointless.
Failure is Always an Option
This is the Mythbusters mantra, and it works within this topic as it does with practically every other topic. Some of us like to try and maintain the air of doing nothing wrong almost to the point of being robotic. However, the sooner you learn that you can and will fail at something, the better your life as a moderator will be. We are all, for the most part, human and we all make mistakes — some more than others. Everyone seems to be under the illusion that failure is a bad thing. Failure is never a bad thing so long as you learn from the mistake that caused said failure. I love being proven wrong and making mistakes because I learn from them (most of the time).
If you make mistakes, learn from them. If you fail, learn from it. You will never be a hero. You will always be wrong. And do not engage a troll unless you have the relevant experience!
I hope you will forgive me if it sounds like I am repeating myself, but the main thing that I have to get drilled into everyone’s head is that, as a moderator, you will always be wrong and will always be the bad person. You will virtually never be thanked and you will never, ever be the hero. The only good part about being a moderator is that you enjoy the community and you are doing your bit to keep the community going and to help the community grow. It is a case of pruning back the weeds so that the garden of community can grow and flourish. It will never look perfect, but with your help, it will look better than if there was no one pruning back those weeds.
There will become a point where you will be given the opportunity to make the big decisions on the direction of your community and then you will realise that, no matter what option you choose, either a group or an individual will suffer. Truly a case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” or being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I try and keep a balance wherever possible, but I know that ultimately someone will hate my decision and think that they can do better. The ironic part is that these people who hate my decision would make the same decision if they knew the facts.