As a participant on UseNet, you probably take it for granted all of the work that goes into running a moderated newsgroup. At the very most, you probably realize that moderated newsgroups tend to have less repeated information and stay on point better. But, since the internet makes everything so vague, it is hard to grasp that an actual person is sifting through ALL of the articles and deciding which ones make the cut or not. Depending on the activity level of the newsgroup, moderation can be a full time job!
So you are thinking about starting a newsgroup?
Most people who start a newsgroup have a set idea of how they want it to be. Yes, this predetermination goes against the entire idea of UseNet but it is hard not to romanticize the newsgroup you want to create. For some, a newsgroup can be like a child which you watch grow and develop. Since some newsgroup creators don’t want to lose the reins on their “child”, they think it would be wise to act as a moderator.
There are some great benefits to moderating newsgroups.
- Lowers amount of posts that users have to read
- Enhances the quality of the posts
- Eliminates the chance of verbal wars between users
- Ensures that the netiquette is upheld
- Prevents spam
Yes, moderated UseNet newsgroups tend to be better than the non-moderated newsgroups. But take some time to think over these realities before you make your newsgroup moderated.
Without a moderator, the newsgroup dies
Non-moderated newsgroups take care of themselves. They don’t have to rely on any individual or group of people. Even if the newsgroup loses popularity completely, it will still exist and can always gain users later on. If a moderated newsgroup loses popularity and the moderator decides to quit, then the newsgroup is dead.
Not all newsgroups need a moderator
Yes, some newsgroups really do need a monitor – especially those which get into heated discussions resulting in flame wars. But not all newsgroup topics are going to cause users to get heated! Also, be realistic about how popular your newsgroup is likely to become. If your newsgroup topic has a very limited scope, then you probably don’t need a moderator to filter through the user articles.
Moderation is a LOT of work
When you browse through the moderated newsgroups, what you are seeing is the result of a lot of work. You don’t get to see all of the articles which were rejected – which can sometimes be the bulk of the newsgroup articles! Moderation isn’t a one-person job in most cases. You need a team of moderators and the team should ideally be communicating in some way – like when coordinating vacation time. Even if have a team of moderators lined up, keep in mind that moderators usually drop like flies once they figure out how much work is involved (or when they get a new job, etc). You should also have backup moderators on call. Never forget that newsgroups are designed to last for years. Will you still want to monitor the newsgroup 3 years from now?
How tech savvy are you?
You will have to understand some programming in order to moderate a newsgroup. Even if you can understand the basics well enough to monitor, keep in mind that problems are likely to come up. Will you be able to deal with them in a timely manner? If not, then your users are going to get upset! Don’t forget that you are going to need multiple injection points or your server is going to crash. Be ready to deal with the smaller problems too, like when your computer dies. Do you have a backup computer on hand and a neighbor who will let you use his Wi-Fi?