The Community Club

Cover image for #ClubChat: Were you a moderator before becoming a community manager?
Alex Angel for The Community Club

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#ClubChat: Were you a moderator before becoming a community manager?


Today's question:

Have you moderated a forum or other community space? What did you find to be the biggest difference between being a moderator vs a community manager?

Discussion (12)

jocelynhsu profile image

Yup! My first exposure to online forums and community management was in high school when I moderated for online graphics + fan fiction forums. I was a "Resource Moderator" which basically meant digital filing and organizing of content.

The biggest difference that stands out to me right now is that one was a volunteer gig that took a few hours a week, at most, and another is a full-time job. Very different motivations and goals.

mmohammed profile image

I definitely would've preferred to start off as a volunteer Mod. I really appreciated being paid to do it, but that came with extra strain! Plus, I imagine moderating a community that you're interested in/ participating in is a nice way to get a look into CM work.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I do not have the patience and attention to be a dedicated moderator. I have soooo much respect for great moderators, and do not have the skills myself to do it day in and day out.

I've played the role of admin throughout which may involve a good amount of moderation, but everything is approached a little more high level as an overall responsibility.

josephphuber profile image
Joe Huber

I wasn't in anything related to community, really. I found community work because I thought I had this super original idea in late 2012, early 2013. I of course found out that community existed in it's early stages and people were already trying to figure it out. So I launched a space at my company and that was my first real dig into the profession. All of the education I had was purely theoretical around building engagement, but wasn't tailored to the B2B SaaS world in which I live.

mayankpokharna1 profile image
Mayank Pokharna

Yes, my first exposure was to moderate a Facebook group in 2015, Flat and Flatmates, Bangalore. This led me to believe that if someone can build authentic communities and drive conversations, the benefits can be huge.

mac profile image

Oh yes - when I was 12 my dream was to become a Runescape Player Moderator. Never happened, but my first exposure to online community was becoming a moderator on a few LEGO fan forums!

mmohammed profile image

I don't know if I would've ever found the time to Mod on Runescape, what with all the cooking and mining to do! lol

fdoxyz profile image
Fernando • Edited on

There’s this old real-time strategy game called OGame and 14-15 year old me enrolled as a moderator of their Spanish speaking forum (the game and forum are still there ~14-15 years later 😆)

They had a freemium model and moderators were given some of the paid in-game benefits for their support, which was my initial motivation, but the sense of community quickly grew on me and later on it wasn’t the only reason I moderated for over a year. It was a lot of fun and a very interesting position where I could intervene on conversations from people around the world I never met before.

I’ve never been a community manager, but I would think the manager would focus a bit more on growing an engaged community, compared to mods’ role of flagging CoC violations and providing trusted feedback to boost quality content. Both incredibly valuable in maintaining a healthy community

mmohammed profile image

Absolutely. I was a mod for two years working on a social media platform that catered to university students. The thing that used to be so difficult for me was the fact that this platform allowed for both static posting (a la forums, FB, TW, etc) and live chat rooms. There were some late shifts as a Mod that included 2-3 hours of staring at a constantly updating chat screen.

As overwhelming as it tended to be, being a Mod did expose me to the work of CMs (my supervisors). It's also made me incredibly appreciative of the work that volunteer Mods do on the forums I manage these days. The biggest difference is probably that I can actually think big-picture and more strategic. Moderation was so often a case of actively policing content (with some policy formulation and user support mixed in).

Having said all that, I couldn't be more grateful for that experience and everything it taught me!

tolstoshev profile image
Nicholas Tolstoshev

Kinda - my first exposure to online communities was my first Usenet account back in 1989. I participated in the group creation voting process, but most of the Usenet groups were unmoderated. Back before PSUVM came online and we got Eternal September

haleyparty profile image
Haley Bash

Absolutely - as a kid I was a moderator on Neopets Guilds and it taught me so much about community building before I even understood what that was! I got into political distributed organizing through initially being a volunteer moderator for an organization's peer-to-peer texting channel. It's such a fantastic way to move people up in their engagement and leadership within a community!

alex profile image
Alex Angel Author

I moderated a guild for a bit and then two subreddits before becoming a CM. The biggest difference for me was that as a moderator my scope was hyper focused/localized to a particular area, and as a CM I was much more of a generalist. The basics like enforcing rules, creating content, etc were the same, but as a CM I was responsible for strategy and multiple channels/platforms.