Moderator Qualifications

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This page gives an outline of what is expected of moderators, and how to become one.


  • Good intentions. A moderator must be someone who is willing to work to improve the ISFDB, and comply with the consensus gained on the ISFDB Wiki on the resolution of various bibliographic debates.
  • Judgement. Moderators have to make decisions on submissions -- whether to approve, hold or reject them. Though they can seek input from other editors on pages such as the community portal, they are also expected to exercise their own judgement.
  • Experience. Moderators should have sufficient experience with ISFDB editing that they understand the majority of difficult issues and common problems. They don't have to have worked with every corner of the database, but broad experience combined with good judgement will prevent them from making mistakes. A mistake made by a moderator is much harder to detect than one made by an editor, as moderators usually approve their own submissions. The list of top contributors records the number of edits an editor has made; this is a rough guide to experience but has limitations. For example, an editor who adds a thousand new novel publication records via "Add Publication" has probably gained far less useful experience than one who spends two hundred edits cleaning up the maze of pseudonyms around Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore's works. Other ways to gauge experience include contributions to the wiki, which may demonstrate understanding of some of the complex areas in the ISFDB.
  • Good communications skills. A moderator will often have to explain to an editor why an edit is incorrect or needs to be changed in some way. Doing this in a supportive and friendly way is critical to making the ISFDB a successful cooperative venture. Moderators should be able to manage these communications without offending editors, particularly newcomers.
  • Bibliographic experience. A moderator should know the basics of bibliography. This is a skill that can be acquired while editing the ISFDB.


A moderator has no obligations to do any minimum tasks; they are simply an editor who is trusted to do certain things. Some moderators may have little involvement for long periods as their other obligations prevent them spending time on the ISFDB; this is not a problem.

Having said that, the following are areas where moderators can contribute. Only the first is actually restricted to moderators only. The others are areas that any editor can help with; and activity in this area is likely to be a positive when considering whether to give an editor moderator access.

  • Handling submissions. Only moderators can approve, hold or reject submissions. Submissions should be held if there is any need to do research to evaluate the correctness of the submission. A reject should be accompanied by a polite explanation of the reason for the reject. If necessary, the moderator should communicate with the submitting editor via the editor's talk page to answer any questions.
  • Participating in bibliographic discussions. All editors can participate in discussions, on the Community Portal and elsewhere. Moderators generally have more experience than many editors with ISFDB internals and should contribute when they see discussions that would benefit from their experience. However, when it comes to matters of bibliographic judgement, as opposed to questions about ISFDB functionality and capability, or historical decisions, moderators' opinions do not necessarily carry more weight than any other editor.
  • Recording bugs and features. It is immensely helpful to the ISFDB if editors record feature requests and bug reports.
  • Monitoring recent changes. Monitoring the recent changes page is a good way to keep track of what is going on in the Wiki and also to keep an eye out for spammers.
  • Welcoming newcomers. Everyone is encouraged to welcome newcomers by adding "{{subst:welcome}}~~~~" to their talk page, assuming nobody else has done this; this will copy in a standard welcome message followed by your signature.

Becoming a moderator

To become a moderator the steps are:

  1. Nominee agreement. If you nominate someone else, leave a note on their talk page asking if they are willing to be nominated. You can skip this step if you are nominating yourself.
  2. Nomination. Create a new topic on the community portal page with your nomination; name the topic something like "Nominating Editor X as moderator". Include a nomination statement listing the reasons why you believe the nominee would be a suitable moderator. It's a good idea to link to the nominee's acceptance of the nomination. Sign the nomination. Create Support, Oppose and Comment/Neutral sections below the nomination.
  3. All editors can then comment in each section, starting their comments with a bullet ("*") and Support, Oppose, Comment or Neutral. Responses to editors' comments should be indented for readability, and may be indented by other editors if they are not. Moderator comments and editor comments carry equal weight.
  4. After five days, any bureaucrat (see below) can close the nomination. They will do so by adding a note to the end of the nomination section indicating whether it was successful or not. The result is not a vote; the bureaucrat who closes the nomination should use their judgement based on the comments, and can go against the consensus if they have a strong enough reason. They must give their reason in such cases. The nomination should remain open for at least five days to ensure all editors have a chance to comment.

Note: "bureaucrats" are editors who have the ability to assign moderator capability to editors. They are a subset of the moderators.