If you’ve participated in the LDSTech Forum, with questions or comments, chances are you’ve interacted with Alan Brown. Alan is one of the moderators for the LDSTech Forum, and he tries to stay up-to-date with nearly every forum post and help out where he can. I asked Alan a few questions about what it’s like to be a forum moderator.
Why did you first start participating in the forums?
I joined the LDSTech forums in November 2007 and was invited to be a community moderator in March 2008.
What drives your motivation to participate so actively?
I serve as a stake financial clerk and stake technology specialist. One of my primary responsibilities in those callings is to help leaders and clerks with their finance and technology needs. I can’t possibly learn everything on my own, so I rely heavily on the experience of the LDSTech community to help me as I help members of my stake.
I also enjoy helping people in the world-wide community of clerks and leaders, so it is rewarding to use the experience I gain both in my stake and on LDSTech to help others on the forum.
What challenges do you face as a moderator in the forums?
On occasion, the moderators and administrators need to take some action regarding a post. We want the forum to be a place where people feel they can post their opinions and experiences without undue censorship. But we also need to keep the forum a safe place where there is no abusive language, security breaches, pointless arguing, or commercial promotion. It’s sometimes difficult to strike the right balance. And I regret that occasionally when I take action, I don’t take sufficient care to explain the reasons for the action, and so I may give offense. But most people are very gracious in their responses to moderator actions – we really do have a great community of contributors at LDSTech.
What would you like to see done differently in the forums?
I’d like to see closer integration between the forum and the wiki. When there is a wiki article that addresses a question well, we try to include a link to the wiki in the response. But when there is no wiki article on a topic, responses can often be incomplete, so it may take several interchanges with responses from several people before the question is fully answered. For common topics on the forum, any community member could start a wiki article that would then complement the forum discussion and make it easier to answer similar questions in the future by linking to the wiki.
Are there common forum mistakes that new participants make?
Sometimes new participants are so anxious to get an answer to their question that they post their question in multiple forums. When they do this, responses to their question get scattered across several forums, and that’s not nearly as helpful as keeping the discussion focused in one place.
Occasionally we see a post that asks a question that is ambiguous or lacking in details, so other users will ask clarifying questions or offer speculation regarding what was meant. It’s understandable that not every question will be full of details, but when a user posts a question, they should check back to make sure they continue the conversation. Some users are not aware that they can use the Subscription feature to be notified by email when anyone posts to a particular thread.
How do you keep up with new forum posts?
My computers stay logged in to the forums, and I regularly use the “New Posts” feature to see what has happened since I last visited the forums. I review every post that is made on the forums. Some are not in my area of expertise, so I may skim them quickly and move on. Where I can help, I post a response. And I always enjoy learning from the insightful responses of the LDSTech community.