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Online Community Host

What They Do

Insider Info

Online community hosts, also known as forum moderators, monitor and enforce rules of online communities, such as message boards. Online communities have many different topics and attract members of all ages. For example, gamers, the stock market and budget-conscious shoppers all have their own online communities.

People find a community that interests them, and then "hang out" online. They have discussions with other people all around the world who share their interests. It is important for online community hosts to have a solid base of knowledge about the topic of the forum.

The rules and membership of each community vary. In general, online community hosts want to make sure that their site is a safe, friendly place for members to interact.

Online community hosts make sure that members behave in a considerate and honest manner, and that the posts stick to the topic. They also want to make sure that there is no spam or other abuse of the forums.

Many forums are open to the public and anyone can join. The members don't always get along or agree on the topics they are discussing. This can lead to "flame wars." Flaming is when a member directly insults another. Flame wars are when the insults are exchanged.

Online community hosts must decide what action to take in these situations. They can warn the members and remind them of the rules. They can "mute" the member by disabling their ability to post to the site for a set period of time. In serious cases, they can ban the member from the site.

Another important function of their job is to help members who are having difficulty with the site. They answer questions and offer assistance. For sites about products, such as games, they report any bugs or problems to the game developers as suggestions for improvement.

Online community hosts often break into the field by starting as members of a forum that interests them. Many positions are voluntary, but some online community hosts are paid for their work. They are employed by different websites and usually work from home. Their schedules are very flexible.

"The average workday as a forum moderator is generally decided on how large the forum is and how many other moderators there are," says Karl Nyen. He is the lead global forum moderator for Markee Dragon, a gaming forum with about 80,000 members. He is a volunteer and spends about three hours per day on the forum.

Josh Millard is a salaried moderator and administrator for Metafilter Network LLC. "I'm 'on the clock' pretty much all day long, checking in on the site regularly and watching my e-mail inbox, but on average I only end up devoting 10 to 15 minutes out of a given hour to the site. Some days are quiet and require less than that. Some days are very busy all day long," he says.

Online community hosts spend a lot of time in front of the computer. They should be able to type quickly and accurately.

Nick Bouton designed and developed a collaborative, creative fiction writing community, which he hosts and moderates. He says a job requirement is being able to think on your feet and deal with controversy quickly and tactfully.

"I also wouldn't suggest doing this if you have a heart condition or anything where stress would physically affect you," says Bouton.

At a Glance

Keep the site fresh and interesting

  • You have to be able to deal with anyone who flames other members
  • Hosts can usually choose their own hours
  • Participating in online forums is a good way to start getting experience