Welcome to the RPGuide

A step by step guide on how to make your own Roleplay site.

5. Building Your Mod Squad

Tricky, tricky is this one. I have seen a lot of folk pick friends and/or their spouse to help run the site. What a big disaster this can be! Sure they're your BF4E (Best friend for ever), or L4L (Lover for life), but the reality of it is that if they're not into it like you are, then be prepared to do all the work while they slack off. And trust me, they know they can slack off because they know you won't call them on it out of fear that they might call the whole friendship/relationship off! These lovers or friends will tell themselves that they didn't want to run the stupid site in the first place and that they only did it because you asked them to. This now gives them reason to slack off and act like a pure bum, while leaving you frustrated with their lack of help.

I've also seen so many Mods and Admins have wars among themselves; some follow and enforce the rules, while others don't. This sends a clear message to your members that you and your team of leaders are a hot mess. Your members will soon learn who's the 'Nice' Admin/Mod (Meaning, the one that slacks off the most and lets them get away with everything), and who's the 'Mean' Admin/Mod (The one that sticks to the rules and follows them through).

The reality of it is that when picking people for the Admin and Mod team, make sure these people are actually mature and capable of handling such tasks that will be required for running the site. Make sure that they're also like-minded people that will work together in unity with you and help the site grow by investing their time into the site. Sadly, this may only be maybe one or two trustworthy/mature people that you may have on your team. Also, make sure that the line for communication is clear for your Mods. Make sure they know exactly what to expect from you and what you want from them.

Don't give out half instructions or feel that if you want it done right, then you'll just do it yourself. This will cause a heavy burden upon you if you're doing 90% of the work, while your five other Mods are doing around 2%. Either talk with them through instant messaging of what needs to be done (please keep it professional when choosing this method. Make sure it doesn't become a distraction and pull your attention away from managing your site.), or post up in the Moderator Center a list of chores that needs to get done, and make sure they cross them off when they do so.

-Mod Center Ideas:

When creating a Moderator Center for you and your staff to post in, be sure to categorize your topics. This is to cut down on clutter and makes it easier on you to catch up on reading, instead of reading scattered topics. You can categorize them like so:

  • -Naughty Member Discussion: You’d talk about how to deal with that member or if your staff needs help dealing with one, or if they've spotted out some behavior in a member they were not too fond of and just wanted to give everyone a heads up about it.
  • -Site Improvement: You’d talk about things on how to improve the site, like, adding rules, getting rid of a rule, or adding forums, adding plots. Just anything that you and your staff would like to see done with the site.
  •  -The 'Do To List': You'd post up the things that you and your staff need to get done on the site. You can either assign them chores or let them choose from the chore list.  (This way no one does the same chore twice). However, don’t be surprised if none of your staff members are jumping head over heels to take on dreaded tasks. Which is why I recommend that you assign them chores.
  • -Admin Update Center: This topic is made just for you. All members must report in and give a brief summary of their daily activity on the site. This prevents you from having to guess what your members have done or haven’t done.

-Rules for your Mods:
Second, make a locked-sticky topic of all your rules and expectations for your staff in the Mod Center. You can make your list of rules based off of the questions below:

 -Would you assign them to a certain forum/topic to Moderate? Or is it free for all?
 -Would you let them pick/request the forum/topic they would like to Moderate?
-How many forums/topics are they allowed to Moderate?
 -Are they allowed to make minor (Or major) changes to important posts such as Rules and Notices without telling you? 
-When confronting a member, can they just do it when they want?  Or must they post up and ask for your permission first? Or post up and let their fellow Mods know that they'll be handling that member or problem?
-When they have confronted a member, must they post up the conversation or give a brief summary in a sticky thread of how the conversation went? (To ensure you that they did handle it right).
 -Must they give a summary of their daily activity on the site? Such as: 'I moved this topic here for this reason, and I edited up this topic for this reason'?
-How do you feel about staff members pulling lone-wolf task without communicating to you or the rest of the Staff? Such as: banning a member, confronting a member, deleting posts, changing rules, etc. 
-What's your policy on warning/banning Moderators on naughty behavior, such as when they break your site rules or your Staff only rules? Do you give them a 3 warning policy and then relieve them of their position? Or is it zero tolerance?

-Using an Alias to Confront a Member:
Because my little brother and I were both running the site together, we had a separate joint account that we both knew the password to. We'd use this account to confront our members when they were naughty. This way, they didn't know which of us were disciplining them and this kept down on ill feelings towards us. It's something to keep in mind if that's something you'd like to do with your site.
However, if you think that's a cowards' move and would prefer to let members know who's actually confronting them, then that's fine as well. But if you're a little more shy and reserved, then you could try the joint account.

-'Administrator' is Just a Title:
Oh goodness, you don't know how many times I have seen people self appoint themselves as 'Administrator' just for the power, control, respect and fame, but they want nothing to do with responsibility or accountability that also comes with this title. These jerks will either tune out or always claim to be 'busy' and basically leave all the hard work and their slack for their other Moderators to pick up and clean up. I have seen low ranking Moderators self appoint themselves as 'second-in-command Administrator' just to keep the site running properly. These low ranked Moderators will be the ones doing all the hard work around the site, while their so-called leader will be M.I.A . And it'll just be a matter of time before members will see this and crown the low ranked Moderator as the real Administrator. Here's how it goes: Who ever does the most interaction with members, logs on the most and cleans the site up the most will be the one known as the 'Administrator', regardless of their given title.

 I have even seen where the immature Administrator had the nerve to get ticked for finding out that the members no longer respect them, but the low ranking Moderator instead. And this is when the power struggle for control now happens. Meaning the Administrator won't give the hard working Moderator proper access to do their job more efficiently out of fear that they'll take over...What?! Uh, newsflash! They've already taken over!! DUH!

Look, it's quite simple: If you're not going to do your job as the given Administrator, then don't get mad at your Moderator when they take over. You gave them control because you wouldn't take it. You weren't consistent in laying down the rules and running the site, so they did it for you. You might have thought you were getting off easy by letting them do all the hard work until it backfired and blew up in your face, and it's now their site, not yours. And now you're trying to get it back by playing immature mind games (And cue the power struggle!).

It's not about playing immature games and trying to take on more work to let everyone know you're the boss. It's about understanding what your job is, and doing it respectfully. It means doing work on your site and issuing out jobs and chores for your Moderators to help. It's about being consistent, being responsible for your actions, being reliable and accountable, listening, remaining humble and not fearing to change. Doing this will let every one know who's in charge without having to flash your title, or shout from the top of your lungs to remind people who you are; your actions should do that for you.

 -Dealing With Naughty Moderators: 

Now, there are some good Administrators out there that's doing a good job, and Yay for them! However, they might be stuck with some not so helpful Moderators that seems to be doing more damage than good. It's not easy confronting people, and it sure as heck ain't any easier if that person is your friend or spouse. So, here's the deal: How do you confront a Moderator about behavior you're not fond of? The answer is:

1. Setup clear rules and guidelines of what you expect from your staff.

2. Pay close attention to the troublesome Moderator.

Now, because you have such clear rules of what you expect from your Moderators, you now just have to pay close attention to those who aren't following them. Such as:

  • -Have you noticed that they're not very team oriented and they're always pulling lone-wolf missions?
  • -Do they always contradict and disrespect your given rules by giving out their own set of rules once you log off?  
  • -Are they always magically 'busy' every time you give them a chore, having you or other Mods to pick up their slack?
  • -Are they always coming up with ideas, but never follow through with it because they're 'busy' (Or too lazy to do them)? Again, leaving you and the other Mods to finish their idea.
  • -Have you noticed that they're magically un-busy if they suggest something, and now have time to work on the project they suggested?
  • -Are they always chatting away in the chatter box for hours, but then say they don't have the time to help out around the site?
  • -Have you noticed that your Staff member will spend up to 2 hours on the site but won't post or do their chores (They just stare at the screen as an 'idle' Staff member)?
  • -Does it take days, even weeks just to get one simple chore done?

This behavior isn't fair, and if you noticed that they've done these things more than once,  then you can confront them in a PM about this matter. Remain clam and polite when confronting them. First, praise them on the behavior that you are fond of them doing. Let them know that you appreciate the good things that they are doing and how you like having them around (This just softens the blow). Then go into how you have noticed their 'naughty' behavior from observation, not word of mouth (If one of the Moderators or members have complained about one of your staff members, then don't bring them up. Leave out name dropping, don't turn this into an ugly dramatic mess. Let that person remain anonymous for peace reasons.)

For example, if this Moderator is always 'busy' when you ask them to do something, then point this out in the PM. Let them know that it may just be a coincidence, but point out the pattern you have observed and how it could look suspicious. Let them know that you're all for teamwork and having other Moderators help each other out, but that you feel that it's becoming a little lopsided since they haven't been picking up any slack from the other Moderators. In the end, give two options: Either they start picking up the slack, or you have to let them go. If they want to start ranting on and spewing that they were busy and didn't have time, and blah, blah, blah. Just let them know that you just wanted to bring this matter to their attention, that was all (Smile). Basically, you're bringing this to their attention as a warning to let them know that you're aware of their behavior and not fond of it. Because if they start back up with this same behavior, you now have another reason to either confront them, or give them the boot. My point is that you need a helping hand, not a Moderator with 1,001 excuses for why they can't help.

Just keep in mind that this isn't about condemning your staff, or trying to make them feel bad, it's just about pointing out unacceptable behavior that you're not going to tolerate, regardless of their status with you. Remember that you want to try and treat all members and staff members equal.You and your staff should remain unbiased towards each other and their fellow members. Remember: Naughty behavior is naughty behavior no matter who it's coming from.

Cause' I gotta say, I have seen so many members complain about favoritism being shown among the Admin and Mod staff, and injustice being shown to anyone who's not apart of that group. And once this happens, you can pretty much sum the site up as a hot mess. Don't tolerate and justify a crooked, rude or lazy staff member just for fear of losing them. Don't have Mods Vs Members mentality. When you call bad behavior like you see it, regardless of what their status or rank is, you'll be respected for that because you're now running an honest, pure and unbiased site. And I gotta say, it takes some real guts to run a site like that. And that's the kind of site you should aim for.

-Your Job as an Administrator: 

I've given out rules for your Moderators, but what about you? What do you follow? I mean, what's really expected of you? Well, how about I give you a summed up list of everything that is expected of you as an Admin. Here are guidelines an Admin should follow:

  • 1. Greet all new members with a friendly-warm welcome (This let's them know you're an active and friendly Admin.)
  • 2. After you've welcomed your members in, make sure they feel apart of your site, and not like an outcast or oddball. (This can be done by coaching/guiding shy members to an active thread or encouraging them to make their own, and then have yourself or your Staff  or other members to join and post in their thread just to make them feel more welcomed.)
  • 3. Make clear rules for your site in which you expect all members and staff (including yourself) to follow, and then follow  through with them.
  • 4. Make clear rules on what you expect from just  your Mod staff (and yourself) in the Mod Center, and follow them through.
  • 5. Discipline naughty behavior when you see it, regardless if it's a member or Mod.
  • 6. The least amount of time you should spend is 3 hours on your site. And if you can, you should show up at least 4-5 days out of the week. Spend this time reviewing/modding and being active/posting on your site. (This keeps low ranking Mods from taking over. And this will also earn respect from members, and will show that you're not an Missing in action Admin)
  • 7. Praise your members and Staff on good behavior.