From the Mixed-Up Files of a Burnt-Out Moderator

By Quicksilver


I'll freely admit that I'm a mailing list junky. At last count, I belonged to 58 (though I'm only active on about 20) and moderated 7 of those. So while The Fic Bitch might accuse me of arrogance for saying so, I think I know something about lists.

Mailing lists are a vital part of the Sailor Moon community- we use them to post fics, discuss characters, meet other fans, and in general they're a prime part of what keeps us, as a fandom, knit together. I did a search for "Sailor Moon" at Yahoo Groups and came up with no less then 938 hits- and this isn't counting Topica or other list hosts.

One of my favorite lists, and the one I am most active on for the Sailor Moon community, is the Sailor Moon Romantic Fan Fiction, or SMRFF. [The Bitch: AKA "The Smurf List" by, well, my friends and myself.] The lovely Moon Klutz owns it, but I've found myself in the position of being the active moderator, AKA the List Bitch.

It's been an uphill battle all the way.

You'd think people would have the native intelligence to read the list rules before joining- or, at least, before posting? Nope. I can't count the times people ask questions that are clearly answered in the list rules. After a while, I get ready to steal a mallet from Sailor Elysia (she claimed it as her weapon, darn it) and start hitting people to see if I can shake some brain cells loose.

Another thing that really annoys me are those irrelevant threads that I've seen come up. It annoys a lot of other members, but unless you're a mod, it's unlikely you'll understand the frustration a mod undergoes every time someone does something stupid. Lists aren't easy to maintain, no matter what you may feel. I've seen lists fall apart over the stupidest things- disagreement about the "best" character, offensive fanfics, cliques being formed that exclude people in a cruel fashion.... you name it, it's probably caused a list to self-destruct. Since SMRFF will be celebrating it's 3rd birthday soon, I count myself lucky. I've got two wonderful co-mods, and a great owner.

But that still doesn't make up for the idiots sometimes.

Being a Mod is not easy- I've made enemies because of my decisions, and some of the decisions aren't easy ones to make. When Sept 11 happened, almost every ML I was on exploded, people wanting --needing--to vent. This was understandable, but eventually life has to return to normal. What was hard was that I had to put my foot down and direct people to ML that had been formed to cope. People gave me Hell about it, and it was only by throwing a fic event together hurriedly that the other mods and I were able to get things back under control. The hatred in those emails during that time could have destroyed us. Some people are still mad at me, but... we're a Sailor Moon list.

Do we "have it in" for certain members? Certainly notů at least not to start with. After having people repeatedly break list rules, ignore me as a moderator (I could care less what you think about me as a writer- if you don't like my stuff, it's your own loss), or do other things of that nature, I start watching them closely.... and yes, there's been one case where I was actively LOOKING for an excuse to ditch someone. Luckily the person finally self-destructed, because my mouth guard was starting to wear down from gnashing my teeth so much as I slept.

I wonder why no one seems to have standard "Netiquette" anymore. Know your message tags, and use them. If something is labeled "Admin", read it. LABEL off-topic posts, and avoid posting them if you can! Don't Forward, make sure you know the rules about creating polls, talk to your mods if you have a question about what is appropriate to send, and don't post one-liners. Keep your sig a reasonable length (If your sig is longer then your letter, something's wrong) and keep a sense of humor. Respect other list member's opinions, don't flame, avoid sending out repetitive messages, and condense messages/FB where possible into one email. For that matter, send FB when you read something you like- just make sure you know if it's suppose to go on list, or off list. All lists have different rules, so it's a good idea to lurk for a week or two before posting. Some lists don't like intro letters; others encourage them. Some will let you veer a little off-topic while others will boot you.

Something NEVER to do: If the moderator posts something to the list you don't like as an official [ADMIN] post, DO NOT REPLY TO IT. Admin posts should not be replied to on list. Questioning the moderator is a sure way to truly piss them off, unless you email them privately to discuss the matter. If the moderator is, to your mind, being unfair, you should be rational and polite in an off-list email. They're prepared to deal with you there.

Each list I'm on has a certain tone. "Baked Nuts" started from a Sailor Moon fanfic, but really has a more of a communal tone--the writers all know each other, and a lot have met in person and have those kinds of connections--it's more of a group email to let people know how your life is then a Sailor Moon list. The FFML, on the other hand, is a general fanfic list that has some of the best fics on it--but is also has the strictest moderation, which I like. All I get from them is fic, a Few FB comments, and the occasional Admin note--no "Off Topic" garbage. I really admire those mods, and one of my lists that I OWN (the one for GW) follows their pattern. SMRFF falls in between- it has a friendly tone, but there is moderation that tries to keep it pretty on topic.

So yes, moderating is a tough business. I get complaints for not disciplining people, for disciplining people (both by the offender and the offender's friends), for being too lenient, too strict... you name it.

Right now, though, the only thing I want is the Cluehammer.... the Fic Bitch PROMISED me I could borrow it the next time someone misbehaved.... and trust me, it's WHEN, not IF.

So if you'll excuse me, I have a few people to hunt down, and I have to repost the rules... again. People never learn the first time. Or the second... Or the third.....

The Bitch: Ah, yes! The Cluehammer! Weapon of mass destruction and smiting for clueless people world wide! And clueless smurfs, as well. Smurf them! Smurf them all to smurf!