First, the obvious. Moderating is not your full-time job. You have a life, enjoy it! We are grateful for any time that you can give. We have no schedules, just join us when you can. Don’t be afraid to sit back and learn while you are starting out. It’s a good opportunity to get a feel for the regular users in the chatrooms, and you will learn a lot by watching the other mods. There is only one violation that truly requires immediate action – offensive or inappropriate comments. Remove them as quickly as you can. Other questionable comments will disappear in the fleeting nature of live chat, anyway.

Please read these guidelines before you begin. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to jump into the Mod Chat and ask. We are here to help each other, not just our users. Most of all, enjoy the cams!

  • We are members of a team. As a team, we need to trust and communicate with each other to provide a consistent experience for our users, and to share our observations about behaviors that may be happening at different cams and at different times of the day. If you are monitoring the chats, please log into the Slack Mod Chat. It’s helpful to know who’s around and to alert other mods when you are entering or exiting the chat. If you fail to login on a regular basis when you’re moderating, you will lose your Mod status.
  • The chat should be a welcoming and family-friendly environment for everyone to enjoy. It’s often the first thing folks encounter at STL. You are the welcome wagon. Wear your “virtual smile” at all times.
  • We are not in the chats solely to police. You are encouraged to answer questions and provide info, and be a presence in the community. Mods who engage our users are more trusted, and help to create a friendly environment. Those who make an appearance only to discipline create an anxious atmosphere for our users. That is not acceptable.
  • Mods lead by example. We should follow our own rules, and treat every person in the chat room the same – as welcomed members of the community. Mods are not elite beings, we are just people enjoying the feeds. We simply have the tools to help keep the chat running smoothly. Mods who exhibit arrogance or condescension, who excessively reprimand, or who overuse Nightbot commands will be relieved of their Mod status.
  • Mods try to make the community aware of rule violations in a polite and friendly way. Many violations happen because the users do not know the rules, and most users will accept the rules once they know them.
  • Mods try to make sure that the admonished users do not lose face in the community. It is often better to address users privately to convey a message more clearly, if possible.
  • Mods always try to deescalate the situation. Do not allow the community to “pile on” the offender. Instead, try to return the conversation to normal with humor or a distraction.
  • Mods are referees – they are not protecting the US embassy in Kabul. The chat is a leisure activity for both the community and the mods. It’s not necessary to be overly strict. Again, this is live chat. Conversation will disappear in moments, anyway.
  • Never question or correct another mod in the chat. This is another reason why logging into Mod Chat is important. Please ask the other mod to join you there if you have a question or concern.
  • Mods should never share internal knowledge in the chat, unless authorized by an Admin or the Admin has already spoken publicly about it. This includes changes to the rules, locations of new cameras, discussions of users or moderators, or anything said on Mod Chat.
  • Inactive moderators may be removed from the list to make room for new mods. If you have lost your wrench after a long absence, let us know. Our mods are always welcomed back!
  • Assume the best of every user. Try not to react to newcomers with suspicion, particularly those from another country. People who venture into chat are often nervous, like the new kid trying to find a place at the lunch table. A warm welcome goes a long way. If a regular commenter misbehaves, give him/her some slack. We all have bad days or exercise poor judgement at times.
  • Use a light hand. If a comment isn’t offensive or inappropriate (i.e. it’s off-topic, childish, or annoying), do not delete it. If other chatters react to the comment in a negative or unproductive way, step in to distract or to steer the conversation in another direction.
  • Explain the violation and your actions. If you must delete a comment, you owe it to the poster to explain why, unless it’s clearly intended to be highly offensive or to upset the chat. This is a learning opportunity for the user and for the rest of the community. Often, the deletion of a comment goes completely unnoticed, and folks will go on to repeat the behavior. Examples and Suggested Responses:

Comment: “Looks like that guy on the corner is looking for some action tonight” Response: “This is a family friendly chat, @whoever”

Comment: “You should check out the Giraffe Cam channel!” Response: “Please do not recommend other channels in our chat, thanks.”’

Comment: “!bot” Response: “Please do not post Nightbot commands. They only work for moderators.”

Delete the comment when you think the chat room understands the correction. Our chatters are very observant, so the offending comment doesn’t need to be left up for more than a few seconds, depending on the speed of the chat.

  • Encourage folks to read the rules. It’s unrealistic to expect new users to read the rules before they join the chat, even though we ask them. Don’t be overly tough on users who break the rules right out of the gate, just remind them to educate themselves.
  • To bot, or not to bot. Nightbot commands come in handy when chat is moving quickly, but best practice is to use it sparingly. Because the program is so quick to jump on infractions, people subconsciously equate Nightbot with wrongdoing. Even if we summon it for a friendly message, Nightbot often kills the conversation. Avoid interrupting conversation with random Nightbot commands. If someone suggests a camera location, for example, then the !location command is appropriate.

Bottom line, all of our Nightbot language is more effective coming from a Mod directly. Endorsing the STL website and the benefits of subscribing (coming soon) is more friendly and persuasive coming from a person than a program. If you don’t have time, Nightbot is always there for you. Some mods keep their own regularly used language handy to cut-and-paste into chat.

  • It’s okay to joke about Nightbot. It doesn’t need our protection. People understand that it’s a computer program, and its usage is not a state secret.
  • Off-topic conversation is acceptable. If it starts to overwhelm conversation about the cam’s subject matter, step in and redirect.
  • Sexual Content. Comments containing information about one’s own sex life, sexual orientation or identity, as well as any sort of sexual advance to another user. Anything that is able to offend or discriminate other users for their gender, their sexual orientation or identity will not be tolerated.
  • Glorifying Violence. Comments containing the glorification of physical, sexual and psychological violence against humans, or any glorification of past or present suppressive political systems, dictatorships, criminal or terroristic organizations.
  • Propaganda. Comments that include symbols, flags or other propaganda of any government or organization that is widely regarded as threatening, abusive or in violation of human rights.
  • Racism. This includes any comment or joke that is offensive or discriminates against anyone for their nationality, ethnicity or skin color.
  • Religious and Political Comments. These are generally not acceptable in the chat because they easily offend people with different religious or political beliefs.
  • Insulting or Rude Behavior. This certainly needs no explanation.
  • Obvious Subscription Fishing. Delete immediately. Ban if they’re particularly aggressive. But be careful of the boatfans who ask for subs to their YouTube Channel or mention videos on their or other boatfan channels.We want to encourage the hobby and make STL a real hub of all things boats and planes.

Note:  Not every comment that skirts the unacceptable deserves a ban. If you don’t think there is true malicious intent behind it, just delete and explain, or timeout. We trust your judgement, it’s one of the reasons why you’ve been asked to become a moderator. But we also encourage you to seek advice from other mods. We’re a team.

It’s easy to forget that there are children contributing in the chatroom, and even easier to forget the ones who are just watching.

  • Kids Can Be Hard to Spot. This is another reason to always use a light hand. Do not assume that questionable posts are from adults out to make trouble, or who are downright trolls. Get a feel from them first, they usually reveal themselves as kids pretty quickly.
  • Kids Can Be Train Experts, Too. Some of our best conversations include our youngest fans. Be careful not to be condescending or dismissive of our young users.
  • Kids Can Also Be Trolls. And they should be treated as such, once you’re confident that their behavior is intentionally disruptive.
  • Be Judicious. If a user posts a comment on an adult topic such as alcohol, relationships, drugs or crime, do not automatically delete. There’s a difference between a comment about “getting completely wasted last night” and “curling up with the cams and a glass of wine.” A reminder to them that kids are watching usually brings an immediate apology. Our users often forget, too.
  • Don’t Be Over Protective. Kids can handle the occasional off-color joke, remarks in bad taste and general silliness. They’ve growing up in the digital age, after all. Children and their parents must assume some risk when they join a public chat room. There’s a balance between maintaining a family-friendly chat and scrubbing the conversation to the point that it deters the adults and our regulars from contributing.
  • Help Our Non-English Visitors, Don’t Scare Them Away. Visitors to the chat who do not speak fluent English usually don’t know that we have rules, let alone language ones. Explain to them that, in order for everyone to converse, we need a universal language. Suggest Google Translator to them. Do not delete their comments, and do not ban them unless you’re confident that they are purposely being defiant.
  • Use Google Translator To Instruct. If a foreign user is not comprehending the language requirements, try telling them in their native tongue. The translator is easy to use, and it’s a small effort. If chat is moving too fast, just ignore until you can deal with it properly.
  • Don’t Delete Non-English Comments. Give them a chance to figure things out. It’s hostile to immediately remove their comments when they don’t understand what we’re asking. This is live chat, the comments aren’t hurting anyone and will move on soon enough.
  • Use Google Translator on Non-English Comments. If you have time, find out what their comment means. Often, trolls will mask obscene phrases in a foreign language.
  • Occasional Non-English Words and Phrases Aren’t Offensive. Leave the Hola’s and Ciao’s alone, they’re used by our regulars and U.S. chatters often, and they’re harmless. They will not open the flood gates of foreign language into the chat, because… rules.

Typically, our new users with little English proficiency do not stick around. They are attracted to a live chat, but often do not bother with — or grow tired of — a translator, and move on.

We are extremely grateful for your help. Creating a terrific environment for our users keeps them coming back, which keeps the ad revenues and subscriptions coming in. This allows us to invest in more cameras. You play a critical role in that process, and without you, StreamTime LIVE would not be nearly as successful. Thank you!

We are always looking to improve the chat experience for the users and for the mods. Suggestions are always appreciated. We’re human, too, if we’re not doing something right or we could be doing it better, please let us know.