Online Friendliness

Time for another post. Actually, it has been time for quite some time. There has been lots going on.

Today’s post is about friendliness while being online as a moderator or administrator. Imagine joining a group, reading the rules, posting a question because something isn’t clear, then being publicly ridiculed for doing the wrong thing and told to read the “rules” because you didn’t follow them when posting questions. You state you are offended by their actions as moderators and make recommendations to keep this from happening again. One of those recommendations is to put something in the rules about what they said to “read the rules” (it isn’t there). After another interaction with the moderators, they stated that the group was too big to be polite and that the group was very difficult to manage with the few people who have volunteered to do this. An insinuation that you can’t read the rules occurs (yet no rule is ever stated), and again harsh feelings are being stated. Something that was a small misunderstanding has now become a big problem.

Some suggestions that would be helpful to anyone who is a moderator or administrator to any computer related group to keep this from happening:

1) Be friendly and courteous. Use “please” and other request type words. ¬†Phrase things in an educational manner, and not a rebuke. If someone is asking something trying to do the right thing, don’t cut their head off – especially not publicly.

2) If you are able, try to make the effort to make the comment in a private message. This is two fold. First, it shows respect much the same way a boss corrects and employee behind a closed door. Second, it shows respect for the individual in that you have taken time to be personable (just remember to keep the message friendly and courteous).

3) Don’t assume there is an intended meaning to anything, even if you have rules. List them out appropriately and be clear. If a section is for something specific, make sure it is in the rules you have listed. Don’t ever assume.

4) Don’t ever think that since you are a moderator or admin that you are above the common member or that it grants you any rights to be mean or rude. While it is your responsibility to administrate the group, there is no excuse for poor management. If there aren’t enough people administrating, welcome to the real world and do the best you can. Remember to be friendly, helpful, and cheerful in dealing with everyone. If you can’t, then you shouldn’t be a moderator or admin. Being a moderator or an admin doesn’t give you the right to insult or treat people poorly.

5) If you “point to the rules”, cite the rule in question. Don’t just point and tell people to read the rules. The likelihood is that the person won’t know what you are saying, and whatever it is you are pointing to isn’t clear. Imagine a police officer giving you a ticket and saying “read the driving manual”. That is what you are doing when you tell people to “read the rules”. This also avoids the insinuation that the person can’t read, won’t read, and can’t understand the language, and many other things. Finally, if you state the rule that applies, you can be assured that the rule in question is actually there – if you just say “read the rules”, there is no possible way for someone to walk away wondering what you are saying if that rule isn’t even there. How embarrassing can that be?

6) If people respond honestly in a private message without abusive language, they honestly want to help the situation. Take the time to try and understand what they are saying. They aren’t trying to attack you.

7) When people don’t follow the rules, it is because something isn’t clear and isn’t communicated. Don’t blame the member unless it is solidly the member’s fault (usually through repeated misunderstandings). These “disconnects” occur because of failing to be clear and concise, they aren’t listed, or there is an assumption made that shouldn’t be. Make sure it isn’t something like this before you go off on the member and try to defend yourself.

8) Defending your actions as a moderator or administrator, for what ever reason, is the wrong course of action. Stay with facts and rules. If you defend your actions, all you will do is bury yourself in things that shouldn’t have been said. If you feel the need to defend your actions, be sorry for and apologize for what happened and move on. Nothing further needs to be said.