Usually the best way to deal with problem members is politely and diplomatically. This is for the following reasons:
- As a moderator, you can be perceived as being in a position of authority and some people may resent you for that or possibly make assumptions about you.
- Problem members won't necessarily go away even if you do ban them, so it's better to maintain the moral high ground.
- There are always two sides to every story, and sometimes members will appear to be difficult when they might actually be just a bit confused.
How to handle awkward members in a non-confrontational manner:
- Try to work with them - ask for (and listen to) their side of the story before making any assumptions.
- Give them the benefit of the doubt (even if it seems highly unlikely)
- Always be civil.
- Ask all concerned parties to forward all relevant emails to you.
- Acknowledge their contribution to the group (if they've actually made one that is!).
- If the complaint is of a criminal nature don't try to solve it yourself, suggest that the complainant contacts the police and tell them that you are happy to be contacted (assuming you are).
- If you're threatened with legal action, try not to worry too much these are almost always empty threats. You can send them this if you like.
- Don't take the member off moderation until the issues are resolved (if at all).
- If you find a member particularly difficult, ask a co-mod to take over. This takes stress off you, and it also shows the member that it's not just some personal vendetta on your part, because someone else agrees with you.
However, while you are doing this it is best not to:
- Allow their behavior to adversely affect the other members of the group.
- Let the member break any rules
- Tolerate personal attacks or insults of any kind whether directed at mods or members.
- Feel bad or take it personally, it happens to other people too:
When you've finished investigating, you can just state your position and then drop it - avoid letting them draw you into repetitive or circular arguments. You probably have better things to do with your time!
If a member is getting to you do seek support from your fellow mods - you can post on Freegle Central for advice or just to vent your feelings - http://freegle.in/Central or by contacting email@example.com for more one-to-one advice or firstname.lastname@example.org if being able to view the chat between your members would be helpful to the situation (the support team can view chats and advise you in there has been problems).
Making contact with neighbouring group mods can help too. They may have had dealings with the same member.