The Community Club

Discussion on: Issues with managing real time chat communities

superplane39 profile image

First question first - how do you avoid the "anyone online?" issue?

In the real-time chats I've been responsible for (largely Discord servers and Stack Exchange chat rooms, really), I've found that you're never going to be able to fully avoid it unless the chat is active 24/7, which is a bit of an unrealistic goal for most chats. When someone does start with asking, it usually works just to post a reminder that it's okay for chat to be idle for a bit and that there's no need to have a conversation for the sake of a conversation.

If someone has a question, encourage them to ask it even if nobody's around. It might rouse people to answer, or someone will respond when they get online. Chat is inherently asynchronous; that's a strength, not a weakness.

As for flooding the chat... that's a bit more of an issue. I'd question, though, what your motivation is for seeing everything - to keep an eye out for moderation issues? Support questions that may have gotten lost? Something else?

If you're worried about moderation issues being lost, I'd encourage making sure there's another moderator online when you're not on. (If you don't want to appoint someone to the same level you are, you can even create several levels of moderator, each with different privileges.) That way you know that someone has an eye on things / is around even when you're sleeping or busy. For reference, in a server with around 320 members total and maybe 30 regulars, we have 9 moderators, of which 7 are active. This includes a timezone spread that covers Europe, the US, the Middle East, and India. (As for how to decide who to appoint, we created a nomination channel (cooldown locked to 1 message every 6 hours per person) where people could volunteer and then hand-picked from those.)

If you're worried about other things getting lost (such as support requests) and / or different topics getting mingled, you can splinter your channels a bit. Personally, I dislike splintering too much, but there's no denying that having dedicated channels for different topics helps keep conversations focused, allows different topics to be discussed simultaneously without getting too confusing, and helps people not interested in a subject avoid it.

As your space grows, though, I'd give up hope of reading every single message. For those times when there are thousands of new messages, scanning is often the best you'll get - and if there were problems that popped up, ideally that will be documented in your moderator space.