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Moderator Appreciation Day – July 1st

DavidDo you appreciate your moderators? If you haven’t shown your appreciation, there’s now a full day where you’re encouraged to show your appreciation. This article is written by Kim, the creator and admin of RPrepository.com, a social network devoted to Roleplayers and their characters. Despite its huge range of unique features, feedback from its community of thousands consistently names the open, friendly atmosphere as the #1 thing they treasure about the site.

Kim from RP Repository

Kim from RP Repository

The internet is an unruly and sometimes dangerous place. When you find an oasis where people are friendly and capable of having civil discussions, you know you’ve found something special. Often these utopias are ephemeral, here one year and then gone the next. To survive its own success, an internet oasis needs some truly great moderators to prevent its culture from drying up.

As the admin of a large roleplay site, the RP repository, I have the pleasure of working with an outstanding moderating team. Every month, I hear from countless users who have nightmare stories about the behaviors of other moderators on other sites. And I hear how surprised they are to have discovered a place where they can be on friendly terms with the moderators, rather than living in terror of them. It’s enormously tragic that these tales of moderation woe are so common, but not surprising.

The thing about being a moderator is that you’re also a human being at the same time. A human being with a personality. With preferences. With pet peeves and feelings that can be hurt. Moderators are often called upon to correct people that they consider their friends, and to be friendly and assist people that they might not normally get along with. Done correctly, moderating is a position of public service. A means of making an entire community run smoothly, not a method of consolidating power. A way to arbitrate disputes and modeling best behavior. It asks ordinary humans to act with superhuman selflessness, and to bear the slings and arrows of those who do not appreciate their efforts without retaliating. That would be asking a lot of anyone. It takes a lot of practice, humility, and a true belief that the culture they are safeguarding is worth the energy and the grief.

When a community – or worse, the admin team – does not support the people who give of themselves to perform this difficult job, it results in good people burning out and attracting ruthless despots in their place. Eventually, we end up with stories of moderators who ban without cause, promote their friends or allow them to break rules, and once-thriving communities that turn ugly or are completely disbanded by the resultant discord.

If you know a moderator who is doing their level best to create or protect a culture of civility and positivity, you know someone who deserves your respect. And to be effective, they need your support.

They might still be figuring out the best approach. They might sometimes make calls that you disagree with. They might do most of their work behind the scenes so that they seem almost inactive to rule-abiding internet denizens. But if the culture of your particular internet oasis is surviving and getting better despite the constant deluge of anonymity and negativity that churns through nearly all online communications, that’s a major indicator that your moderators are hard-working gems.

That’s why over at the RP Repository, we’ve declared July 1st to be Moderator Appreciation Day. Such maturity, effort and caring should always be acknowledged and rewarded. It’s not about setting the moderators up as an “elite” class, but about letting them know that we see and understand how much work and skill it takes to shepherd a community of thousands.

But this doesn’t have to be an event that’s limited to one day or to just one site, and frankly, it shouldn’t be! Good moderators are rare. When we find good moderators, we should show them all our support.

You can start today by sending a moderator you know a message or starting a thread on their forums, letting them know how much you appreciate them. If you can, cite specific examples of things they did that you thought demonstrated their true value to the community. Seeing their work recognized will feel outstanding, keep them around longer, and help them to become even better moderators.

By recognizing good moderation when you see it, you’re helping to elevate the discourse of the entire internet, and making the world a better place.

So spread the word: July 1st is Moderator Appreciation Day.

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