The Facilitator Role

A facilitator is the person responsible for managing a circle. In the case of sponsored circles, the sponsor is usually the facilitator. In the case of community circles, the facilitator is a volunteer who has offered to create a circle in a topic area of interest to site members (or to take over an existing circle when the current facilitator retires).

On other sites, the facilitator role is called a moderator. Here, the primary role of a facilitator is to encourage discussion. We do not like to put facilitators in the "policeman" position, and have a simple set of procedures to help them to focus on their primary role (below).

Sections

Responsibilities

Primarily, a Facilitator helps to encourage discussion. Sometimes, this will mean starting topics of interest, but it also means allowing discussion by others to take place in a friendly and productive way.

Every circle needs a welcome/guidelines thread, which is "stickied" so it's easy to find. The Facilitator creates this thread as the first point of duty for a new circle. If taking over an existing circle, the Facilitator can revise and alter the guidelines as desired, or create a new set.

The Facilitator should consider starting "sticky" threads that can act as a useful resource for members. If a member starts a thread that should be an easy-to-find resource, the Facllitator should make that thread sticky.

Posts from new members and restricted members will not appear until approved. If a post from a new or restricted member is made in your circle, it will be highlighted in orange. If it is acceptable, please approve it, otherwise remove it. If it is obvious spam or trolling, please notify an Admin.

Being a Facilitator is not meant to be an onerous role.

Moderating a thread

On occasion, a Facilitator may need to intervene in a thread. Reasons may be that it has strayed well outside the thread and circle topic, that it has strayed into discussion areas that are not allowed on this site, that it has become unnecessarily argumentative, or that some posters are being deliberately disruptive and counterproductive.

Here is our required procedure for handling problems such as (but not limited to) those indicated above:

  1. Post in the thread, asking that members correct the course that it has taken.
  2. Optionally, post again with the same request.
  3. Move the whole thread to Quarantine, and post a brief note at the end of the moved thread stating:
    • where the thread came from, and
    • why it was moved, and
    • any other requests for Site Admin

Once a thread is in Quarantine, Site Admin will monitor its progress and decide whether and when to clean it up and restore it, or whether to trash it. Threads will not be restored for a minimum of 24 hours and usually 48, in order to ensure that the trouble has passed. Site Admin will also decide whether to take action related to specific accounts (timeouts, restriction, banning, etc).

Please note: Facilitators do not have the ability to instigate timeouts or bans, and must never state that a person will be banned, nor even request that a person be banned. That is entirely Admin's call, and will be done IF there is a need for it and procedures are followed.

If a Facilitator feels that a person is being deliberately troublesome in their circle, they can post a request in the moved thread to that person, asking them to stop posting in that circle. If the person continues to post in the circle in the same manner and in spite of the request to stop, move that thread also to Quarantine with a note attached informing Admin that the person has refused to stop. Admin will then handle it.

Please note: Moving a thread to Quarantine is how Site Admin are notified of a problem. Do not "go your own way" -- just follow the procedure.

Facilitator controls

Here are the controls available to Facilitators.

Move Topic
This appears at the bottom of all threads. Use this to move threads to Quarantine (see Moderation above), or to another circle if the thread has genuinely been posted in the wrong location.
Set Topic Sticky
This appears at the bottom of all threads. Use this for posts that contain important information that you wish to be easy to find. Ce careful not to over-use this button, otherwise you will end up not having any recent activity on the home page of your circle.

Circle activity

The Facilitator is responsible for keeping a circle active.

A circle that has not had any posts in 30 days is deemed to be inactive. The Facilitator should take measures to restore activity, or contact Site Admin if unable to do so.

A circle that has not been posted in for over 90 days by the Facilitator is considered to have been abandoned by the Facilitator. We may issue a call for another volunteer Facilitator in that case, in order to bring fresh life and ideas to the circle. If there is no volunteer forthcoming, then we may decide to close the circle or merge it into another.

Resigning as Facilitator

If you do not wish to continue on as Facilitator of a circle, we request that you find someone to replace you. You can do this by contacting suitable individuals directly, or by posting a request for a volunteer in your circle.

You are not obliged to find a replacement, and Site Admin will remove you from the role at your request. However, if you don't find a replacement, your circle may be archived or merged into another.

In either case, thank you for being a Facilitator and helping the community.