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Every online community needs admins or community managers, moderators, members, and the odd troll here and there. With so many people involved, sometimes it's hard to divide the responsibilities. This post will offer some advice on how duties can be shared.

What are the essential duties of the community manager or administrator?
  • Develop and foster the "vision" and "flavor" of the community
  • Perform off-community evangelizing to bring in new members
  • Set the community rules, Terms of Service, or guidelines
  • Recruit and/or manage moderators
  • Manage the structure of the community (add/delete forums, chat rooms, blogs, etc.)
  • Be present but not intrusive within the community
*Note, some communities have more than one administrator, but you always want to have one person in the lead.

What are the essential duties of the moderator?
  • Role model the behavior that's expected
  • Wrangle trolls
  • Answer questions
  • Welcome new members
  • Literally "moderate," making sure controversies don't explode out of control
  • Spark and foster conversation
  • Uphold and defend the community "constitution" or rules
  • Organize topics (if the community has agreed to this structure)
*It's always nice to set aside a private area of the community where moderators and admins can discuss problem areas and resolve issues together, especially if the team is not working from the same physical location.

What are the essential duties of the membership?
  • Follow the community code of conduct
  • Engage with other members respectfully
  • Communicate problems or suggestions to the moderator
  • Support the community by bringing in new members

What are the essential duties of the troll?
  • Cause consternation and trouble
  • Register multiple aliases in an attempt to get around moderation
  • Unite the community around a common enemy
  • Just kidding...


I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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