DickD Reflects -- Full Article

Ever Wondered What it’s like to be a Ben’s Friends Moderator?

At the heart of Ben’s Friends are our Moderators, who play varied and interesting roles. Our communities wouldn’t be the same without them: they’re central to keeping your communities safe and supportive.

This week we asked DickD, a moderator on AVMSurvivors.org, to tell us a bit about his experiences and motivations as a Ben’s Friends Moderator. Contributing to the AVM community and supporting others through difficult times is at the heart of his commitment. DickD’s heart is obviously a big one! And here it is, straight from that big heart:


Being a Moderator on a Ben’s Friends Community

I enjoy being in the AVM community because people arrive new into the community often very concerned about a new diagnosis of a rare condition they’ve never heard of, having had a minimal amount of info from their doctor (for fear of frightening the patient, I think sometimes). I enjoy catching such people as they are in free fall and being able to say “I felt exactly like you do. It’s going to be fine, honestly. There are lots of people here who have gone through exactly the same as you and we have come through it ok.”

As a moderator, you get all of the “excitement” (not) of administrative management of new members arriving… the system tells you about new registrations that you need to review, people getting upset at what one member has said to another and trying to make sure people are genuine members of the community who are seeking support rather than trying to use the site as an advertising ground for their self-help products, webinars or online boutique. That part of being a moderator is important but rarely rewarding. Of course, you do get the opportunity to see a new member come in before they have posted and sometimes that can lead you to proactively reach out to them to welcome them and explain a bit about where they might find the relevant help they’re looking for. It is the helping of others that I am here for.

“What’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done recently?”

I found a cry for help from a new member who had received a diagnosis that she needed to have open brain surgery, her husband was working away from home, she had posted a cry for help. Then she thought better of it and deleted her post. Her operation was a couple of days away, on the day that her husband would finally arrive home.

I was only able to see that deleted post because I was a member of the moderator team. I wrote to her to welcome her, talk through some of her worries and encourage her that she would be in great hands at the hospital (her doctor is world-famous) I gave her some hints and tips for how to get through a hospital stay.

It was a proper cry for help. She went quiet on me for a few days but came out of the op very well, had read my thoughts and taken some of them to heart. She was grateful for my advice and touched that someone was there to just help.

The other thing that constantly amazes me is how we are able to help people all around the world, support them, even help them with their emotions, through the use of bare, written words. No gentle tone of voice, no speaking gently, just able to be there. We use that narrow means of communication which is the written word to catch people who are falling and offer them some support. I’m amazed how effective that can be, though I often put quite a lot of thought into what I say and how I phrase things, in order to try to get that calm, supportive tone of voice across.

“What else do I do?”

I’ve no idea. I talk too much, sometimes and I have to remind myself to shut up; not to answer the whole question in one go but to allow a conversation, a relationship to develop, or other voices to be heard in the conversation. And quite often I think of other people in my forum who I know have gone through the same experience that someone writing in front of me is going through. Then I openly (or sometimes surreptitiously) invite that other person to join the conversation.

“Is it rewarding?”


“Does it bring broader experience or meaning to my life?”

Yes, I think it does.


Editor’s note:
So, if your community needs a bit of moderator support or more diversity in the moderator team, think about what you could bring. It’s not difficult. It’s not always easy. But it does have the power to touch the lives of people all around the world.