Pitfalls of Newsgroup Moderation

(or Things You Wished You'd Thought Of Before You Started)
Maintained by Russ Allbery <eagle@eyrie.org>
Last modified January 1, 2018

So you want to propose a moderated newsgroup. Or perhaps you want to moderate one, or maybe someone's just proposing a moderated newsgroup for a topic you're interested in (or even proposing moderating a group that you read).

You may want to read this before you go further.

Let me be clear about my bias up-front. I'm an advocate of moderation for a lot of situations. I think it's a great way of improving the quality of a newsgroup under some circumstances. I'm also the moderator of several newsgroups myself. But a lot of people are quite fond of the concept and results of moderation without being aware of the work and problems that come with it. This document is an attempt to teach you about that part.

This is not an attempt to persuade you that moderation is a bad idea, although it may have that effect. (And if it does, moderation probably is a bad idea for your particular problem. Moderation is rather far from a cure-all.) This is an attempt to get you thinking about some issues that you may not be aware of or may be tempted to discount.

This is not a how-to on how to moderate, nor is this a primer on what a moderated group is. If you don't know that already, you're not in the target audience for this post. If you haven't already, please familiarize yourself with the means and methods of moderation; a good place to start is with the old Moderator's Handbook, available at:


This document is divided into three parts. Each part is a list of pitfalls and problems that arise with moderated groups, things you should be thinking of, and things that others have wished they had thought of earlier. The first section is aimed at proponents of moderated groups, the second at prospective (or current) moderators, and the third at readers of and posters to moderated groups.

For proponents:

For moderators:

For readers and posters:

If you have anything else to add to this post, or any suggestions about it, don't hesitate to mail me. Thanks to Gary Johnson for his encouragement and to Tim Ottinger for the initial framework of this post. Thanks also to many news.groups readers for suggestions and feedback.

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