Jov sez: How2Forum ModerateMay 5, 2009
I know it’s not in keeping with the rest of the blog, but the largest chunk of my WoW-time that’s not filled with raiding is probably the time I spend moderating at PlusHeal. Also, as has been established in an earlier post, I have no life. (Also known as “Jov’s brain isn’t working, so she’s doing another fluff post” or “It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to.” >.>)
Matt may be pleased as punch that he founded such a popular, high-profile healer’s community. The downside to that, of course, is the fact that high profile attracts a lot of things, primarily spammers.
Point out how much work needs to be done
Just like the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the easiest way to become a moderator is to send PM after PM after PM to the owner of the forum pointing him at the most recent spambots. Then, suggest he do a sweep of the entire member list to weed out undesirables before they become a problem. You’ll be getting mod privileges in no time!
Is it a spam bot?
Many of these suggestions are probably fairly forum-specific, but you’ll start seeing trends in the spammers to your forum.
Have they posted spam on your forum? Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go straight to the Control Panel and ban that turkey.
Does their name reference wow gold, viagra, or tamiflu? Probably the quickest and easiest way to spot a spammer is to look at their username. If it references something you know is for sale (or the drug du jour) you can say with 99% certainty that it’s a spammer. PlusHeal, being a healer’s forum, sometimes finds users with cute pharmaceutical names, so it’s not a 100% guarantee. Move on to the next step.
Do they have a webpage listed in their profile? If it links to something that’s not armory, a guild webpage, or a blog, they’re probably a bot. Don’t click the link if you’re uncertain! Use Google to search for the site in question, it will usually reference what they’re selling or you’ll find a link near the top where the site is specifically said to be linked to a spammer.
Do they fill in the optional fields in the profile information? Often, fora will include a place to fill in your occupation and interests. Most of the time, people don’t actually fill that stuff out. Most of the time, spammers do, and they mention stuff that has nothing to do with the forum. For PlusHeal, specifically, while people don’t include their occupation or interests, they DO fill in the fields for class and server. Most of the time, if server is not filled in, I know it’s a spammer. However, like with the healers having pharmaceutical names, it’s not a guarantee
Does the email or IP Address show up linked to spam elsewhere? StopForumSpam is my FAVORITE tool as a forum moderator. It’s a listing of known spammer IPs and email addresses. It’s fully searchable, and you can look by username, email, and IP Address.
How do I mod like Jov?
Check for Reported Posts in the Moderator Control Panel. Before I do anything else, I check here. Usually, it will be people reporting spammers, but if a topic is moving to flame war territory, people will usually report those posts as well. Spammers are first priority, ban them, delete their posts. If there are problem posts for other reasons, make a note to come back to them later.
Get friendly with the member list. Check the member list sorted by reverse join date (so most recent is on top) and keep mental tags on who has joined since the last time you checked. Overnight, PlusHeal can have anywhere from 5 to 25 new members, but keep in mind they’ll come in during the day as well. Go through the steps outlined above on each of the new members.
Don’t forget the inactives! Inactive Users are those who’ve signed up, but haven’t finished the registration process (meaning they’re sitting on the email “please click this link” you get when you first sign up for something.) Accessed through the control panel, this is another place to weed out spambots. This adds anywhere from 15-50 users needing to be checked out a night as well.
IP, not email. As everyone knows, there’s pretty much a limitless supply of free email addresses out there. Banning by email prevents that address from being used to create a new account, effectively preventing the spammer from posting but not from reading (and not from getting a new email address as a work-around). Banning by IP prevents that IP from accessing the site at all, and IP addresses are a bit more difficult to replace. Sure, that person who sends out spam might actually want to read your content, but do you really care?
Skim the threads. Or, go back and check the posts reported earlier for things other than spamming. This is mainly to keep an eye out for disagreements which aren’t resolving or actual flame wars going on. Luckily, PlusHeal doesn’t really suffer from this, so it’s the smallest part of my job
Enjoy the content. Ask or answer questions, go back and look at the interesting stuff, make your guild recruitment pitch. Don’t get so wrapped up in the job of it that you lose track of why you care so much about it in the first place.
Check back often. Murphy’s Law states that the site will be hammered immediately after you’ve checked it out. Don’t expect to look once in the morning, and have nothing to deal with until you look again at night. If you’ve got a free 15 minutes, give it another poke.
I know I said earlier that PlusHeal takes up as much of my time as raiding; I don’t want it to sound like my style of moderation (read: totally OCD) takes up large 4-hour blocks of my time, but that the ~12 hours I spend raiding each week is about equal to the time I spend wading through member lists and forum threads a few times a day, nor do I want to imply that I’m the only person on PlusHeal who does any moderation. PlusHeal has between 5 and 10 very active moderators, with an additional 5-ish who check back less-often. So be careful what you ask for; you don’t know what you may be signing up for.
Note: 5/27/09 — I’m disabling all comments for this post. In an example of irony being totally not amusing, this post is a spam-magnet, and I’m having to delete 10-20 spam comments a day to it. Considering that otherwise the spam inbox is pretty empty for this blog, I think it’s safer this way. If you would like to continue discussion on this topic, mosey on down to PlusHeal and send me a PM, or simply give me a poke in another post. <3 Jov