Moderator Manual:Recruiting moderators

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Recruiting Moderators / Finding Replacements

When the group gets too big to handle for you and your small group of moderators, or you feel it's necessary to step down, it's time to tap community resources and find some additional assistance or replacements. There are a few ways to do this.

Some swear by hand picking a moderator based on their activity with the group. They look for someone who posts correctly, has no issues with other community members, and is approachable and friendly.

Since moderators have the most contact with posting members, you want to find someone who is people friendly, patient, not abrasive, and can follow the rules that have been laid out for the group. Another method to recruit a new moderator is to send out a mod recruit letter. It's relatively simple to do and can be posted as a Special Notices ADMIN.

This gets out to your entire community. Once the applicants respond to your post, you can pick a member based on requirements.

Important Note: If you must leave your group on short notice, and if you have tried to find a replacement moderator from your members and no one has volunteered, please immediately contact your GOA for your area. Your GOA will either take over your group or refer it to Interim Moderator Team (IMOD), which is a central volunteer team that moderates local groups until new local volunteers can be recruited. Thank you for caring enough to assure that the local group may continue to grow and to thrive.

Whatever method you use to recruit, the important thing is finding a good moderator to assist or as your replacement. This section will walk you through the process step by step and includes sample letters to get you started!

Getting Started - Sending A Mod Recruit Letter:

Once you have determined that you need a moderator for your group, get the word out to recruit one!

The easiest way to announce an opening for moderator is to send out an occasional mod recruit letter to your group members. Here is a sample letter that can be used. Simply copy and paste... and feel free to edit as necessary!

Evaluating candidates

After your mod recruit letter gets posted, it becomes a waiting game to determine your pool of moderator candidates. Make a baseline determination based on their response.

  • Does the member answer all questions completely and concisely?
  • Are they posting in full sentences?
  • More importantly, does the member have a clean record on your board?
  • Were there run-ins in the past that might prejudice that person with your current membership?

Once those questions have been decided and you determine you have a good candidate, make contact again with the member.

Answer any additional questions they might have asked. When that is completed, you should be able to move forward.

Basic Training and Instruction for Your New Moderator

For training your new moderator, there are two choices:

  1. We strongly suggest doing the training yourself using our new self-guided training materials. Your GOA can set you and your trainee up with access to the World Playground so your trainee can practice with your guidance, or you can train your co-mod yourself on your site.
  2. You can ask GOA to help. To set this up, contact your GOA.

Changing Member To Moderator

Now it's time to change a former member into a moderator. For those of you who aren't familiar with the procedure, here are instructions.

Notifying your GOA

Please forward the application to your GOA so he/she knows who is on the mod team.

Welcome letter to new mod

The next step is letting your moderator know about the new privileges. There are several ways to do this. A personal note sent by you will work, as well as the following message as an example. Simply copy and paste... and feel free to edit as necessary!

***Replace all XXX references with your local group name***

Hi XXX and Welcome!

I just made you a moderator and you now have the ability to approve pending messages and members.

This will be a two-week trial period and at the end we can evaluate how that went and you can decide if you want to come on board permanently!

Here's some information that will be helpful as you begin moderating.

Group name: XXX Freecycle(TM)
Group Mod/Trainer: XXX
Group Mod/Trainer email:

The Freecycle Network(TM) now qualifies as an international movement, (lots of good people worldwide) giving stuff away (and getting stuff) like crazy. We've adopted the motto "Changing the world one gift at a time".

We currently estimate that over 40 tons a day are being saved from landfills due to our combined efforts establishing this wonderful "gift economy."

The online Mod Manual is an invaluable tool that provides answers to many questions you may have pertaining to daily operations and management of your Freecycle group. From start to finish, it walks you through basic procedures and gradually introduces you to the finer details of being a moderator. It can be found here:

Also, check out our member FAQs at

We have two groups for mods to discuss issues and support each other. The Tech Discussion Group (FIOD) is the first stop for tech help and advice for MyFreecycle groups for mods around the world.

For other moderator issues, there is the Freecycle Leadership Community where mods can share and chat about all group issues other than technical.

Please note that there are guidelines for joining these groups, which can be found here: scroll down to Guidelines for Joining Mod Squad and other Leadership Groups

Thanks and good luck.

We look forward to working with you!

 (C) 2003, The Freecycle Network(TM). All rights reserved. Freecycle and the Freecycle logo are trademarks of The Freecycle Network in the United States and/or other countries.

Final Steps and Parting Words of Advice

The preceding instructions provide a solid starting point to get your mod on board and trained. Here are some final words of advice:

  1. Establish a rapport with your new mod. Make yourself approachable and available. Be friendly and nice. We all have lives outside Freecycle but the reality is that training will be much easier if you put forth the gesture of being open and establishing communication. A friendly email or IM inquiring on progress or well-being goes a long way to establish that initial line of communication.
  2. Make yourself available as much as you possibly can, whether it be through email, SMS or otherwise. Your new mods need you to be there because they are counting on you to help them with even the most menial of tasks. If they feel deserted, they will lose confidence and set up for failure.
  3. Just because you think a question is easy for you, doesn't mean it's easy for your new mods. Remember how uninformed and new you felt when you first started? Put yourself in their shoes and remember that someone gave you a chance. This is your shot at giving them a chance and starting them off on the right foot. You have to start somewhere... that being at the very beginning.
  4. Do not belittle or make your mod-in-training regret asking you a simple question. It's a matter of trust that you two have forged. You trust that your new mod will learn the appropriate tasks and your mod trusts that no concern is too insignificant and no question too silly to ask. The first time that you make your mod feel dumb for asking the basic of questions is where you will lose that mod's trust.

Sometimes a new mod will not work out no matter what you do. Personalities clash, attention to detail waivers, or maybe they simply aren't cut out for the position no matter how hard you train them or how much instruction you provide. If you have to let a mod go, do it gently and kindly.

Thank them for their time and let them know it just didn't work out. There is no need to pinpoint every bit of blame where they lacked proficiency or point out their mistakes. That's just a cheap parting shot and does not serve any part of member relations and communications. Better luck next time with another mod trainee. It just happens. Finally, don't forget to inform your GOA in the event that your new mod that didn't work out. Now go forth and recruit! Best of luck on your endeavor.

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