What is the best way to react to emotional messages that touch personalities rather than topics; a question to experienced mods

Running my first ever forum and recently hit first 500 users, I am in trouble with moderation and need your advice.

Some people are quite emotional: despite being very knowledgeable in many topics, they start to touch personalities time to time and to speak about persons rather than topics.

I simply do not know how to best deal with it. The situation is getting even worse because of the numerous issues:

  1. Russian and Ukrainian speaking people are not taught to be polite in the Internet. This is not our tradition. The way people speak e.g. in this forum and in my forum is very different. So my attempts to explain in PMs that we should discuss topics and opinions rather than people simply did not work. I suppose please are more aggressive in our countries

  2. I cannot ban people because they are extremely knowledgeable in the topics and they are the key people to develop the forum and fill it with useful information.

  3. If I do nothing, other forum users get upset and stop writing / reading / visiting the forum, so I still need to do something about it.

  4. If I just edit their messages and remove all unrelated emotions and keep useful information, the authors get very angry.

  5. I cannot rely on forum users clicking on flags either as very few of them feel comfortable to do so. In our mentality, flagging means being an informer, which nobody likes to do: a loose lip gets the first whip.

We already lost 2 knowledgeable users who used to write to the forum regularly and their materials were quite useful for the whole community.

So, I literally tried all I could come up with. Need more advice! What else should I try?


I don’t know if I can mention a discussion out of this place, but you can find several suggestions here:


Yeah, you’ll definitely want to hit up feverbee.com @hawk can point you to a few places there too. I think they recently opened it up a bit to the community but still have a few areas that are behind a paywall (something to be mindful of).

1 Like

Thanks for the mention guys.

Hi @meglio – that sounds like a really tricky situation. Cultural differences can definitely be problematic at times! It reminds me of this paper, which probably won’t inform your situation much, but it’s a really interesting read.

I think that your fear of banning (or disciplining) people due to the resulting loss of their knowledge is understandable, but if you’re already losing others as a result of their behaviour then you need to act. Although the cultural aspect makes the lines blurry, you can still have very clear boundaries when it comes to personal comments or insults.

So I’d do this. I’d write my TOS/guidelines so that they are very clear around the use of personal innuendo or insults, and then every time it happens, I’d gently (but publicly) point the person in that direction. That will continue to reinforce the message to the protagonists and also demonstrate to the rest of the community that you are aware of it and are actively trying to solve the issue.

And if it keeps happening, then I’d start banning. There are a lot of knowledgeable people in the world, but if you get a reputation for being unwelcoming, that’s very hard to fix.

I hope that helps a bit. If you’d like to troubleshoot further, we’d love to have you join us at FeverBee (we’re a community for community managers and this kind of issue is right up our alley :wink: ).

Good luck.


I would generally say “have a strong set of rules and stick to them”.

Do not allow cultural differences to explain away meanness to others, tell them this is my house and these are my house rules. If you cannot respect them, and each other, you need to find another place to go.

The absolute worst thing you can do is have no rules, unclear rules, or weakly enforced rules.


@HAWK I joined your forums with nickname Anton_Andriyevskyy and am very tempted to also review information that is in…

P.S. I’d also like to change my nickname to meglio but that’s disabled.


[quote=“meglio, post:6, topic:38453”]
a few areas that are behind a paywall
[/quote] I’ll contact you by email.

And no probs re changing your username. We have SSO so it’s an admin job.

PS: Yay. Glad to have you on board. :slightly_smiling: