Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham

A day or three in the life of a forum moderator.

The Forum Moderator.

Mournful violin starts: Unloved by most, hated by some, ignored by others. Mournful violin ends abruptly to sound of needle being scratched across a record*.

*This is what a record looks like

Though I believe now they’re coming into vogue again. No, not that vogue.

A sometimes wildly inaccurate, often incoherent and perhaps untruthful diary of an ABAP moderator.  May contain nuts.

I mean – who’d do it?  What kind of narscissitic megalomaniac

would step forward and say “Yes” when asked to be a forum moderator?    You spend hours looking at abuse reports.  You see the worst of the community.

Occasionally you get to help some poor lost soul  out, even more rarely you get thanked.  But most of the time, you’re seen as a pedantic, soulless kill-joy, caring only about the minutae of the regulations being adhered to.  Nasty horrible bully.  Anyway, that’s why I do it.

In order to set the record wrong about matters I consider important, I’ve decided to break ranks and tell you what’s really going on in the moderator clique.  How we hatch plans designed to break the spirit of all but the strongest wills.  What goes on in the secret forum?  Who is “Princess Leia” or the even more mysterious “Zarniwoop”?  Maybe I’ll reveal these and even more disturbing half-truths about the enforcers.  Or maybe not.

I though I’d start off with a gentle introduction to a typical moderator day.

btw – moderator originates from the same root word as “modest”.  Originally, it was “modesterator”.  But then the French got their hands on it, and it became “Modêterator”.  Which was hard to say, so became “Moderator”.  This is not true.

A GENTLE INTRODUCTION TO A TYPICAL MODERATOR DAY.

WHY DON’T PEOPLE READ THE RULES?  HOW HARD CAN IT BE?  POSTING IN ALL CAPITALS.  SEE IT LOOKS LIKE SHOUTING AND IS HARD TO READ.  IT MAKES MY EYES TIRED!!!!

( Note also the over use of exclamation marks.  Terry Pratchett says more than three is indication of insanity!!!! ).

I got up at 5am, and logged onto SDN (SCN – why does the name change, I can’t handle change. EDIT 2018 – I don’t even know what it’s called anymore).  Bleary eyed, I peer at the abuse reports…

You know when you click on (EDIT 2018) massive great button marked “Alert Moderator” that used to be a little triangle with an exclamation mark in it? When you spot someone who’s CAPS key is stuck – or missing?  That produces an entry in a little list we mods can see.  I say little.  But sometimes it’s a huge long list.

EDIT 2018 – not so big now that we have these tag thingies. Now we only see those that are relevant to our speciality. 

Hey look – someone is posting links to buy cheap Nike shoes.  Maybe SAP have gone into a joint venture but I doubt it.  Nah.  This must be spam.  So … I log into SDN, find all the post by that user.  Yup – he was created today, and all his posts are promoting nike knock-offs.  So, I charge my trusty deletoblaster, and BANG, ZZIP.  boingoingoing… the spam has been fried.  Quick message to the “Terminator” (aka, Zarniwoop), who fires up the ultimate weapon – the guestificator.  Also known as a the dodoizer.  A few hours later the Nike Spammer is pushing up the daises.

>Edit – exclusive here (and the rest of the world), a rare picture of Zarniwoop. With his guestificatoratoriser

> Edit 2 – the rare picture of Zarniwoop has disappeared. I think he took it with him when he went for an intergalatic cruise in his office.

There’s a few Smartform and SAPScript questions in ABAP General.  Form Printing forum  So I move them over to the correct forum with a little note asking the posters to use the right forum next time. EDIT 2018 – this is old. It’s all tags now. I remember when it was spaces. And before then…

A few issues here and there.  An email address posted.  A request for points(!).  A copy and paste of someone else’s material – you can get guestificated for that.   Two posts by the same user, in different forums – apparently the same content.  But a closer look reveals they are sufficiently distinct.  Gradually each raised abuse report is dealt with.

So, onto the forums.  And before I can start being helpful and answering queries- MORE MODERATION ISSUES.  How can people be so selfish…  *sob*.  It makes me want to cry: Crying baby

Oh well. Quickly clean up the offending posts.  Then, at last, I can start to make a constructive contribution to the community.  Then off to my day job…

…come evening, and back into the secret forum where we begin to discuss our on-going plan to… what? well yes…  but I promised to reveal all… how about some?  No…  Oh grief – not Leia again…  You want to mix it with WHAT!!!…  Well, no.  Who does like gumpo?……..

Me, I never wanted to be a lumberjack – just a rock and roll superstar.

EDIT 2018:

Not so many folk asking for points now. Though it does appeal to my sense of humour when people ask for an upvote and as a result get a downvote. But the work continues…

I gave up on my dream of rock and roll super stardom, and became a theatre director. Here’s a little from my last production, Aladdin. Aladdin and his brother Alcor decide they’ll go back to Basel to defeat the evil Zodiac the Zürcher who’s taken over. They enlist the help the Martini (like a Gini but not as strong), who produces a magical sword of heat, that looks suspiciously like a light sabre.

Assigned Tags

      32 Comments
      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      But all of that is contributing to keep the community on the right track and I can't thank all of you enough for doing it!

      Great Job!

      Author's profile photo Suresh Datti
      Suresh Datti
      More often than not, the abuse reports list is empty in the Moderator Console. I must admit it is near real time moderation. I have been onboard for about 2 weeks and rarely had to use my Sheriff's badge.
      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author
      That's thanks to Julius.  I just pretend I'm working hard... 😉
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I would also like to thank everyone who uses the Abuse Report button!

      As Matt has said (somewhere around 6:30 A.M.) we do also comb and contribute to our forums as well, but the Abuse Reports log is a huge help to zap in on both misuse and misunderstandings quickly, before they become habit (or a flame war :-).

      Special thanks to all who help the mods keep the forums usable, searchable and "Expert Forums"!

      Cheers,
      Julius

      Author's profile photo Thorsten Franz
      Thorsten Franz
      Hi Matt,
      Your blog was a great pleasure to read. I'll think twice if I'm ever asked to moderate a forum. 🙂 Seriously, I think the moderators are doing a great job. If they do their job very well, it goes mostly unnoticed. It's hard behind-the-scenes work but it's necessary to keep the forums a sane place you can enjoy visiting. Without moderation they would probably look like a drug-infested railway station toilet (more often :)).
      Cheers,
      Thorsten
      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author
      "stream of near-unconsciousness"

      A lovely turn of phrase.  Thanks!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Matt,

      All these times I was wondering where should I fire for dismissing my blogs! At last I found you!!!

      Cheers Matt. You guys are doing a fantastic job to keep this place neat clean and reliable.

      Thanks heaps
      Avik

      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt
      After enjoying your blog immensely and laughing myself silly over your writing style and also sharing a picture I had of you ( Matt at TechEd Berlin ) with our Israeli cohorts here on my visit, I wondered a number of things about you.
      Why no blog picture of Matt?
      Why no second name for Matt?
      Is the name Yireh a code name? (it means shooting in Hebrew so I wondered if that is secretly linked to terminator)
      All joking aside you moderator guys and gals are my heroines and heroes and although I don't wish for you endless moderating work, I wish for all of us your endless enthusiasm.
      "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
      Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "The Wisdom of the Sands"
      French writer (1900 - 1944)
      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author
      >Why no blog picture of Matt?
      I've not worked out how!
      > Why no second name for Matt?
      I got called Abrechnungsschinken.  Also, Matt Billingham get's abbreviated in the forums to Matt Billing.  Also, when I was going to change it, I couldn't.  And I just haven't got around to asking Zarniwoop to do it for me.  And it would be my fourth name - I've another 2 in between...
      >Is the name Yireh a code name?
      It comes from the first book of Moses,  22:14.  "G.d has seen to it" or "G.d will provide". The word "provide" or "seen", is "Yireh" - biblical Hebrew rather than modern, I guess.  Anyway, it seemed like a good name for my company, which aims to provide good service.  But shooting is good.  Troubleshooting.  Apparently, the Greek word is Eidos.  But the Lara Croft creators already had that...
      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author
      I've just attempted to load a blog piccy...
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      LOL! You are a card! :-))
      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Hello, thank you for the blog. If there are some more like yours, maybe you can reference them here? If there are not any like this one, you could write some more:)) Thank you, Otto
      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks Otto. It's nice to be appreciated.

      I write blogs as and when inspiration strikes. And when I have the time.

      Sadly (or fortunately, depending on perspective) it doesn't often happen. Anyway, all my inspirational brain cells are working on the lyrics to my next theatrical endeavour.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      What a great blog, I literally laughed out loud! This should be moved out to the About SCN space, so that everyone could enjoy. What a treat!

      Thank you!!!!!!!!!!! (this is totally worth being crazy about 🙂 )

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      Good idea. I've moved it.

      Author's profile photo Martin English
      Martin English

      Not the worlds fastest reader of SCN stuff these days, just wanted to second Jelena's commenmt.

      (will this get moderated as a 'me too' post ? or does that only happen if I agree with someone who comments badly on a moderator's blog ?)

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      I'm nothing if not inconsistent, arbitrary and partial. Together with megalomania, I think those are the vital ingredients of any moderator. 😛

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      A request for points(!).

      really?

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      Hard to believe I know, but yes, some people actually ask for points! They don't help out just for the love of it.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Do SCN points give you some special power we don't know about?

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      I think some very badly run companies are powered by points. Incredibly, annual appraisals/targets are linked to how many points the individual accrues. Thankfully, being a freelancer, I don't have annual appraisals, so I don't suffer from such lunacy.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      fair point and makes sense with some of the posts I have seen. The advise is repetitious and adds no additional value to what someone else has already suggested but worded slightly differently.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Points give a sense of power or achievement.

      Zynga created Farmville and other games, and it was all about points.

      For points, players performed tasks, referred game to all the friends, polluted the wall with updates...

      Another game called Cow Clicker was created by an individual to parody such social games, and it was a hit.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Hi Manish

      I got that... does that mean SCN starts up a profit centre and start selling points like Zynga does? They can even have half price sales 😉

      My point was more around members asking for the points.

      Regards

      Colleen

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Even Zynga made people ask their friends to join the game for referral bonus, and give/take virtual gifts to increase the collection of badges. Badges... are also part of this gamification.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      I think I might add that to my comments to points hunters.

      "SCN is supposed to be about voluntarily helping one another. If you're only interested in points, try Farmville".

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Matt,

      I suppose that life is very hard moderator ... continue conducting this important and excellent work for the SCN 😉

      Regards,

      Karen Rodrigues

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks.

      Mostly it's fine. But you do, unfortunately, end up dealing with people who cannot comprehend that they are not the centre of the universe, from time to time. People who get so upset when they feel disrespected, but are not willing to show anyone else any respect.

      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      Matthew, just came across this old gem of yours (thanks to Jelena for pointing it out), and all I can say is... brilliant!

      Ok, I could say quite a bit more, but I'll restrain myself. The tools may have changed, but the situations encountered remain pretty much the same eight years later.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      I've just re-read it. Not much has changed. We even still see posts asking for rewards... though admittedly not as often.

      Today:

      I deleted the blog of someone who, despite repeated requests to remove his Bio information from the blog, didn't do it.

      I deleted a couple of program specifications - where people are expecting others to do their job for them.

      I deleted a few FAQs. Jelena helpfully pointed out in the mod report comments exactly how many hits on google they got. In fact, with Jelena's reports, I generally copy her comments, and then agree with the report. If this carries on she might end up being press-ganged... 😀

       

      Author's profile photo Richard Harper
      Richard Harper

      Just pressed 'Alert Moderator'  to alert him to a rib tickling read.  I thoroughly enjoyed that Matt.

      Rich

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham
      Blog Post Author

      Now slightly updated, with broken links fixed.