This document is a brief handbook for community moderators. It is published here so all users can understand what moderators do, and why. If you have questions, post them in the VMTN User Moderator Program forum.
Moderation tasks and policies
Here are the most common situations requiring moderator intervention, and how you should handle them:
Posting to the wrong community forum:
Example: A user posts a question about ESX Server in the VMware Workstation forum. It is obvious that the post belongs in a different forum.
Action to take: Use the “move topic” function to move the entire thread into the appropriate forum.
Non-virtualization related posts:
Example: A user posts a new thread which is not related to virtualization or VMware at all.
Action to take: Use the “move topic” function to move the entire thread to the Bit Bucket. Notify the user via private message that the topic has been removed, and why.
Double posting 1:
Example: A user creates two or more identical posts, in the same forum.
Action to take: Use the “delete topic” function to delete the duplicate topic. Make sure to delete the duplicate that has no replies, if possible.
Double posting 2:
Example: A user creates identical postings in two or more forums.
Action to take: Delete the duplicate topic(s). Leave one topic that is in the most appropriate forum to be commented on.
Bold, italics, all-caps, and emoticons in the subject line
Example: A user starts a new thread on any forum, using bold, italic, all-caps, or emoticons in the subject line of their post. This places artificial emphasis on their posting on the thread list.
Action to take: Use the “edit message” function to edit the original subject line. Fix the formatting. Check the “edited by” box, and note that you edited the subject line to fix the formatting.
Action to take: Use the “lock topic” function to immediately lock the thread. Use the “move topic” function to move the entire thread into the Emergency Moderator Holding Area. Reply to the topic after moving it into the holding area, stating why it was moved. The forum administrators will be automatically notified upon your reply. If the mod bashing/baiting is done as a reply to a thread, first use the “branch topic” function to turn the comment into its own thread, then lock and move the new thread into the Emergency Moderator Holding Area.
Spam and promotion:
Example 1: A user creates a new thread on the forums, which is a job advertisement or a business advertisement.
Action to take: Use the “move topic” function, to move the entire thread into the Emergency Moderator Holding Area. After moving the topic, reply to the topic and state why you moved it into the area. The forum administrators will be automatically notified when you reply to this topic. The administrators will take appropriate action.
Example 2: A user replies to an existing thread, which is a job advertisement or a business advertisement.
Action to take: Notify the forum administrators by making a new post in the Emergency Moderator Holding Area. In the new post, provide a link to the promotional posting, and state that a promotional post has been made. The administrators will review and take appropriate action.
A user posts profanity or other offensive language in any forum thread. The offensive language is severe.
Action to take: Use the “edit message” function, and remove the profane language with <expletive deleted>. Check the "edited by" box, and make sure you note that you edited the posting for profanity. Make a new post in the Emergency Moderators Holding Area, with a link to the offensive user's profile. Note in the post that this user was edited for profanity.
Example: A user makes a post directly insulting any user or group of users. This is called a "Flame" post for its inflammatory tone.
NOTE: There is a difference between a "spirited debate" and an "insult". People often get passionate about their opinions, which is a great thing on a forum. The health of the discussion decreases very quickly when forum users start insulting each other personally. Please be acutely aware of this when deciding whether or not to take action.
Action to take: Use the “move topic” function to move the entire thread into the Emergency Moderators Holding Area. Reply to the post, stating why it was moved. If the flame post is a reply to an existing thread, first use the “branch topic” function to branch the post into its own thread, then move the topic into the Emergency Moderators Holding Area.
Illegal and malicious postings:
Clear-cut examples of an illegal post are:
- A user posts their VMware Workstation serial number for everyone to see.
- A user posts their Microsoft Windows 2000 serial number for everyone to see.
Some postings may appear to be malicious, but are not outright illegal. Examples of these types of postings are:
- Links, or mentions of, warez sites or serial number generators.
- Linking to any application/utility which has viruses, trojans, or spyware attached to it.
Action to take: Move the illegal or malicious post into the Emergency Moderators Holding Area. Reply to the post after moving it, stating why it was moved. If the post is a reply to an existing thread, first branch the post into its own topic, and then move the branched topic into the Emergency Moderators Holding area.
Patterns of behavior:
Example: A user does any of the above, repeatedly. Or, a user does any of the above, as their very first posting in the Communities.
Action to take: Send the user a private message, and politely ask them to read the posting guidelines, FAQ, or other resources. Offer to help that user to understand the guidelines. If the user continues with the behavior, despite having been warned by the user moderator, make a new post in the Emergency Moderator Holding Area, and provide a link to the user's profile who is repeatedly breaking the guidelines. The forum administrator(s) will review this user's postings, put a watch on the user, and take other appropriate action depending on the circumstances.
Discretionary moderator actions:
No other privileges than outlined above are granted to user moderators. If you would like to moderate a post for any reason not specified above, you must first get permission from the VMware Communities Manager. Post your request in the Emergency Moderators Holding Area for assistance on any post that does not fit into the above criteria.
The following is a list of moderation tools you have available to you. Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility, so use them wisely.
The "closed padlock" icon at the top of each thread is used to lock the topic, which prevents any more replies to that thread. The thread can still be viewed.
The "open padlock" icon at the top of each thread is used to unlock a previously locked thread. This allows forum users to start posting replies in this thread again.
Moderators can edit any user's message. This is done by using the "edit message" icon at the top of the message you would like to edit.
Using the Delete Topic/Message button will cause that thread (and all of the messages threaded underneath it) to be deleted forever from the communities. Users who earned reward points in that thread will lose their reward points if a thread is deleted. NOTE: There are a few, very limited circumstances in which it's OK to use this function. Consult with the VMware Communities Manager when in doubt.
Using the “Move Topic” function allows the moderator to move the entire thread to a different discussion board. The person moving the thread must be a moderator in both discussion boards in order for the “Move Topic” function to work.
Use the “Branch Topic” feature to split a conversation away from its original thread. The branched topic becomes its own thread on the discussion board where it was originally posted. It's recommended to switch to threaded view mode (in your “Control Panel") prior to branching the topic, so that you can clearly see which part of the conversation is being split from the original.
This feature has very limited uses, but can be very useful when a particularly good discussion gets ugly in a small branch of the discussion.
Requirements to become a community moderator:
Communities users who want to become a community user moderator must meet all of the following qualifications to be considered:
Be a registered VMware Communities user for 6 months or longer.
Have a status level of “Expert” or higher (751+ reward points).
Be willing to adhere to the terms in the User Moderator Agreement.
Be nominated by current moderator or self-nominated.
Prior to becoming a moderator, user moderator candidates must be approved unanimously by all current user moderators.