Online forums can be a very interesting and rewarding on the positive end and and deceiving and abusive on the negative end. How can one environment have these extremes?
First, and this applies to any online site, its the fact that it is online. Only a very small percentage here ever get to actual meet another member face to face. So much if it is based on virtual impressions. You can't look into my eyes when I tell everyone how important forum rules are, just as I can't see the pain in your face when you talk about your doctor not listening to you. We all try our best. Is there a faction that is sort of like the online dating services? Sure, People want to put their best foot forward and make them seem like impeccable human beings. Each one with the perfect hair, the perfect body, eyes, etc.
So in come these folks the online forum sites call Moderators
A forum moderator oversees the communication activity of an Internet forum. He monitors the interchange of contributors and makes decisions regarding content and the direction of threads. Moving discussions from one section to another to keep topics organized is also a common job for a forum moderator.
If the tone of a forum becomes hostile or starts to move in the direction of personal attacks, the forum moderator usually has the discretion to lock the discussion to prevent heated, interchanges. He may also be able to hide discussions he deems unworthy of further discussion. Conversely, topics he feels deserve further examination can be posted indefinitely by the moderator even if they garner no comments.
Moderator duties are as diverse as the forum topics themselves. Some moderators are virtually invisible; they surface only when situations arise that do not seem likely to resolve themselves. Other forum moderators are always there, ready to intercede at the smallest hint of discourse. Public forum moderators often have to enforce many rules of conduct and decorum, as public contributors tend to communicate without abandon, which can sometimes upset other commenters.
In the 8 years that I have been a moderator for Spine-Health, I brought on about 6 new moderators and had to dismiss 4 of them. They were dismissed due to what fears me most about moderators. They take things into their own hands and make the rules fit the occasion. Plus after working with a person for a while you get to know them and some of those moderators were just mean people. They wanted the power of being a moderator so that they could dictate their rules.
This does not happen any more, or I need to say to the best of my knowledge this is not the way. My moderator team and I discuss everything, from potential spammers, problems, solicitors, members who are violating rules, etc. This way the entire team is up to speed on what the 'temperature' of the forums are. This also gives me the opportunity to set forth the 'directives' from the parent company. I work closely with them to ensure that the forums are always being handle in the way they want them to be and that they always are reaching the objectives.
So when Liz or Sandi says something in an thread/post, they not only speak for the moderator team, they are speaking on behalf of Veritas LLC. If at anytime you feel that the handling of a thread/post by any moderator does not seem appropriate, please either send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a private message. I promise you I will take the time out to respond to any question.
What else do moderators do? They Help ... In many ways we have to act like teachers. Helping new members logging in and getting comfortable with the site. The initial navigation of any online forum site can be challenging. Then its the questions how do I create a thread, where do I create it, etc. When new members have questions on Spinal Injections, we like to provide them with links to other threads by members dealing with the same subject, or formal Spine-Health medical articles.
We want the new members to become as comfortable as possible in the beginning. That at times has been trying to the moderator team. There have been certain members here that have zero tolerance for new member questions or concerns. We've addressed a number of them, plus a 'group' of new member attackers were isolated and banned.
I am somewhat different. I try to do all the things I talked about above, but from my long history/experiences of spinal problems, spine and joint surgery, flareups and more I hope to provide a positive and lighter side to the situations.
Trust me, the current moderator team has been dealing with chronic pain a LONG time and I dont want to be in their shoes. It still amazes me to this day, that one of our moderators is still ALIVE, never mind being in pain.
Keeping a positive outlook no matter how dark things seem is one of the key ingredients in dealing and living with chronic pain.
But, now this brings me right back to what the start of this thread is about. Almost 99.99% of members that register here are doing it because they are looking for help.
Help is what we want to give them, help is something each member out here can also do. Lets all try to make sure that the time spent creating threads or answering posts are doing in a positive manner and is providing help to someone who is just beginning their journey.
Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences