Moderate Your e-mail List Effectively

Posted on Feb 16, 2015

When your role is moderating an e-mail list, there are a few strategies you can implement to ensure that the job is done effectively. A well-moderated e-mail list will not only be free of spam and trolling but will retain and engage list members, keeping them coming back. Here are some tips for moderating an e-mail list...

Group Discussion

Customise Your List Settings

Taking the time to customise your list settings is a big time saver for moderators – if you set up your list correctly you can almost completely avoid spam and trolling. Pay particular attention to posting permissions – you can choose specific people that can post, allow anyone to post or allow only list members to post.

Open or Closed Lists?

An open list allows anyone to send messages to the list, even non-members. Open lists can be active and attract lots of messages but they also require the most moderation.

Closed lists are easier to moderate – one of the main tasks of the moderator is deciding who can post to the list. The more people you allow to post the better the conversation can be but it is also less controlled.

Each list is different and it should be clear whether an open or closed list suits your needs best.

Avoid Over Posting in Discussion Lists

A common killer of interest in moderated e-mail lists is over-posting by a moderator – even (or especially!) if the moderator is more knowledgeable about the subject matter than most of the list members. If a discussion list becomes a ‘one man show’ then it can lose the discussion factor, which is the raison d’etre after all!.

Be Quick To Remove Spam

If spam messages are left up they can give a bad impression to new members and reduce the quality of the list. Spam is not actually that common in most lists but if you see some remove it as soon as possible.

Use A Light Touch

A list with active discussion can have members with different opinions – debate can get heated but it is important not to jump in too quickly to moderate comments as it can stifle debate. Knowing the difference between a productive argument and trolling is one of the main skills of moderation. It’s important that all legitimate opinions are heard even if you have a different opinion from the person who posted.

Welcome First Time Users

It can be good to welcome first-time users when they make a post. When a new user posts for the first time a warm response can encourage them to be an active member of the email list, while a frosty or criticisive response can turn them off for good. So encourage them by thanking them for posting and welcoming them to your group.

Stoke the Fire

Use your authority as the moderator to encourage new discussions. You can post a question about a current event or a little piece of your mind regarding a specific topic to push users to participate in your moderated list.

Pay Attention To Your Regulars

You’ll notice quickly who your regular posters are. You’ll also notice that these are the people who stoke the fire when you haven’t. Be sure to encourage these users and pay attention to their posts.

Avoid Cliques

While paying attention to regulars is important, it is essential to avoid favouritism or the formation of a clique because this could make other members feel that they are not a part of the group.

Remain Objective

If you do have to step in and remove posts or members, it is important to remain impartial, objective and to put aside any personal feelings you have about those that you are moderating. If you do this well you should gain the respect of the group members.

Explain Your Actions

If you have to remove a post be sure to send the member a private message explaining why you have taken the action. This will help the member understand why their post was removed and should prevent them making a similar mistake in the future. It also makes the member feel like you are paying particular attention to them and gives them a chance to respond to you personally.

Add Other Moderators

If your list has become quite large, and you’re having a difficult time keeping up, you can appoint other moderators to help with the maintenance of your e-mail list. This can be a great time saver.

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