Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 12, 2009

A Community Managers Best Friend

Lark A Shepherd’s best friend is his dog. There are two types of dogs used primarily in shepherding and they are used for two distinct purposes. The first is used to herd the sheep, and the other is to protect the sheep. These dogs are chosen and trained specifically for their ability to complete these tasks. The better a dog is trained the better he will perform his tasks.

A dog allows the shepherd to sleep at night without fear of his flock being attacked. The dog stays close to the herd, and watches out for them all through the night, allowing the shepherd to get his much-needed sleep. Sheep are nervous animals, and even a good scare can a many times kill a sheep. Having the dog there to protect them puts the sheep at ease, and they sleep better, eat better, and herd better.

As a community manager your best friends are going to be your volunteer moderators. Just like a shepherd works with his dogs a community manager must work with his moderators. They must be cared for first and foremost, and in turn they will provide you with the ability to sleep at night. Yes community management is FULL TIME work. I can not stress the importance of a good team of moderators. There is no replacement for a team of moderators that will handle and care for the community like you would. They allow you to step away every now and then to plan, and work on direction.

Members have a great sense of worth, and purpose when there is a good team of moderators. They are not nervous that they are going to beat up by some troll on the site looking to pick a fight. We all know that many of our members lurked first before joining, and if while lurking they are seeing people getting picked on, abused, or disrespected, I guarantee you that they will not be joining. Moderators need to be there to protect your members, and members need to know they are there.

As manager you must watch these moderators and manage them appropriately. Members should ever feel threatened by a moderator, and any and I mean any intimidation is grounds for immediate dismissal. Your community will not last if it is being run by a rowdy group of moderators. The sheep are not afraid of the dogs, and members should not be afraid of the moderators.

Moderators also help to herd your community in a direction. Many times moderators are “first responders”, meaning that they are usually first on a thread and are able to immediately point a conversation in another direction, or are able to encourage the conversation in a good direction. You need them to be active in the conversations, and using that influence to point the community in the right direction.

Your moderators can be your best friends, use them and your life will be much easier!



  1. Absolutely! I am a forum administrator, and in my contracts I often work hand-in-hand with the community managers, freeing them up to deal with the “bigger picture” and community relations, while I and my moderators handle the day-to-day details. I’ve seen far too many community managers that burn themselves out rapidly by not utilizing the moderators to their full capacity.

    Well said!

    • Thank you J! Your input is highly valued.
      A community is about community which means we have to rely on others, and I see so many CMs that think that they are the community, and get burned out so fast, and destroy the community.

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