How We Moderate the SDN Forums

The Student Doctor Network Forums have served the pre-health and health professional community since 1999. Thousands of members benefit daily from participation in our forums community. The success of SDN is due entirely to our members and volunteers.

Our SDN forums are moderated by a team of volunteers who have donated thousands of hours to help students become doctors. All volunteer moderators are required to be active participants in the forums and have proved themselves as helpful members of the community. New moderators are trained on what SDN believes is the best response to any issues that may arise in the community.

SDN Forum Moderation Rules

Moderators are foremost forum stewards. Their role is to help out newbies and make SDN a positive and welcoming environment for new members. Below are the core “SDN Forums Moderation Rules” that our team follows based on lessons learned from our history.

  • The purpose of the Moderator is to foster discussion and encourage healthy forums. The Moderator is the steward of their forum.
  • While the vast majority of our members are great, it just takes a handful to create a negative perception. If you do see people behaving negatively, don’t hesitate to warn them or place them on probation — it’s better to action quickly (and kindly) and then, if needed, go back to correct any overmoderation errors.
  • Moderators can develop an “espirit de corps” on their forum through fair and professional communications when correcting problems. When members are crossing the line, we appeal to their good sensibilities to raise their communication mode.
  • When in doubt, action it first – then consult “The Hive” (aka the collective opinion of fellow moderators) in the Moderator Forum.  We can always go back and make a change if needed.
  • Each individual forum is for discussion within that specific community. The members of that forum should feel comfortable to discuss topics within their own communities without being harassed by members of other forums. (i.e.: PA vs. MD, MD vs. DO, CRNA vs. MD, etc…). We encourage the team approach to health care delivery, and discussions of this are appropriate.  Discussions of one profession vs. another are naive and counterproductive to developing a positive community.
  • Always respect members’ anonymity. Anonymity is what encourages members to use SDN. Never reveal member’s identity on the boards; it puts SDN at legal risk, not to mention scaring away members.

Moderation of Problem Members

One role of moderators is to address issues with members who disrupt the professional atmosphere of the forums through trolling, harassment, spamming, derailing threads towards political discourse, or other activities prohibited by our Terms of Service. The moderation team may apply sanctions to members who violate the terms of service depending on severity, from warnings up to immediate banning from the site.

Members are rarely banned, and only in the case of flagrant or repeated violations of the Terms of Service. Usually, a warning is issued to members so they can correct their behavior and continue to participate on the forums. If the behavior continues, the moderation team can progress from warnings to probations, including posting holds, up to banning. Immediate bans are issued only when there is a flagrant violation of the Terms of Service, such as spam postings or obvious trolling.

Moderator Selection Process

The current moderator team and membership may nominate moderators. Members may nominate themselves as potential moderators. Potential moderators must have an established account of at least six months duration and a post history showing them to be helpful to the community.

Nominations are reviewed by the moderator team. To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the leadership or paid staff of accrediting bodies may not serve as moderators.

Those members selected to become moderators must agree to abide by SDN’s non-disclosure policies. They are trained by existing senior moderators using established documentation and common forum scenarios. Moderators must maintain a minimum level of activity, logging in weekly to the site.

We welcome members to contact the SDN volunteer team if they have any questions or comments about SDN moderation policies or how we moderate the SDN Forums. Enjoy using the forums and good luck on your journey to become a doctor!