One of the questions we get most in relation to the online communities we manage is about the measures we take to ensure they remain safe and caring spaces for the young people who use them. In particular, people are interested about the ways in which we moderate TheSite.org’s long-running discussion boards.
Partly, the answer is in having sound rules and policies in place. But in essence, the answer comes down to the commitment shown by a whole load of people carrying out a multiplicity of roles. Set up in 2001, the community on the boards has developed and evolved massively.
It’s long been a tradition for staff from across the whole of YouthNet to volunteer their time and help out with moderating the discussion boards. This is something they do in addition to their primary responsibilities at YouthNet and often outside normal office hours.
YouthNet also has partnerships with organisations like Depaul UK who help to moderate content in the Health and Wellbeing forum of the discussion boards. It’s a partnership with their staff who work different shift patterns and are able to provide moderating capacity outside normal office hours.
However, it’s the core of volunteers and active participants in the community behind the boards, that’s the key secret ingredient.
Volunteers get involved as moderators, a crucial, yet sometimes underappreciated role. A good moderator has to learn when to take a backseat so the discussion flows, and when to step in when support is needed. It’s about knowing when to praise a good idea or action, and when to put things straight.
In addition to moderators, there are a range of super active community members that help with all kinds of chores that need to done well to make the boards what they are. These tasks could be anything from good housekeeping (reporting or zapping spam), meeting and greeting new joiners, right through to providing peer support to those who are particularly vulnerable or alerting moderators if needed.
It’s true to say that without the support and hard work of many of these people volunteering their time, the community behind TheSite.org’s Discussion Boards would not be the place it is. Thank you!