I subscribe to a number of internet forums, including some where I have been given moderator rights and thus the duty to stay on top of things so I can offer help and head off inappropriate postings. How do I manage to stay on top of volume of new material being added each day?
The secret is to deal with the information in an efficient manner. Most forum software will let you see new posts since your last login and many also offer other tools to keep up to date. Here are some examples based on how I approach my account at the Digital Photography School forum, a high volume site based on vBulletin where I am a senior moderator:
- The site provides an RSS feed of all new posts. I subscribe to this via Google Reader so I can skim through them rather than having to click through each one back on the main site.
- I have saved a bookmark that takes me immediately to the list of new posts since my last login. Rather than trying to take in all the information, I just skim through the list of which section each one has been added to, looking for activity in a small number of areas (such as the “admin and moderators” bit, which is private and doesn’t show on the RSS feed).
- I also click on the link to my user control panel. This provides me with a summary of any private messages that have been left for me and links to the latest posts in conversations I have been involved in, which is why I don’t have to look for those when skimming through the longer list of all new posts.
- I have set my preferences to show the maximum number of threads per page (40 instead of the default 10). When working through a busy thread, for example, shortlisting potential winners from the weekly assignment, I only have to load four or five pages to see everything rather than fifteen or twenty.
- When replying to posts, I keep the five sentenc.es idea in mind.
I certainly would not be able to manage my involvement in multiple forums, and the mental stimulation that comes from them, without such strategies!
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