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How much time per day should I be spending on moderating my online community?

There is no concrete rule for moderation time with any community, and much will depend on the length of your project, the number of participants and activities you have, your experience and the number of moderators available. However the following tips are a good starting point:

  1. The first 24-48 hours are a crucial time in any community. This is the point where participants are getting to grips with your platform and your project. Make sure to greet them, usually through a welcome task, individually. This means tailoring a specific response to each person that builds on what they have posted and begins to establish rapport between you that will encourage them to share deeply further on. It is also vital you do this because it demonstrates to the participants that there is someone at the other end of the screen! This keeps them accountable as they realise that someone is taking note of their actions and they aren't simply typing into a void.
  2. Participants will come to your community on their own terms and time. Some will log in early, some during work hours and some later in the day. We always advise checking in sporadically throughout your day to keep up to date and to maintain a good pace of communication. Online qual differs from traditional qual in that the demands on the moderator are not so intensely focused on a single time period, but spread out. Your energy will need to be carefully managed, and you may also need to consider moderating at times that might normally be down time for you (i.e. evenings and weekends). Once your community has got into the swing of things, you will be able to identify when people are logging on and engaging the most, and can tailor your moderation to these points.
  3. Finally, to try and provide some sense of timings to guide you. From thousands of projects we have found it takes an experienced researcher 5-10 minutes to moderate 2-3 activities for one participant per day. This is where they are reading, engaging and also beginning to conduct some analysis or coding. For those newer to online qual, it can take twice that per participant. Make sure that, using these rough rules and the numbers of your participants, you are blocking out time in your day to check in.
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