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 community. The success of SDN is due entirely to our members and volunteers.

Our 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 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 Mod 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.
  • Moderators can hardly ever err on the side of doing too little, but can easily err on the side of doing too much. The board has a ‘virtual’ homeostasis. Most problems naturally go away by themselves.
  • While forums do have a ‘virtual’ homeostasis, and most problems do naturally go away by themselves, 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, Moderators should consult “The Hive”, AKA the collective opinion of fellow moderators.
  • 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.). Calm and reasonable discussion of these issues can be appropriate in some cases unless Moderators feel uncomfortable or forum members complain.
  • Moderators always respect members’ anonymity. Anonymity is what encourages members to use SDN. Moderators never reveal member’s identity on the boards; it puts SDN at legal risk, not to mention scaring away members.
  • Our membership encourages open discussion and debate, including opinions that may be unpopular or feedback that businesses or institutions may feel is unwarranted. Moderators should only delete posts in extremely rare and limited circumstances where there is a clear violation of the SDN Terms of Service (such as spam/advertising, overt racism, inappropriate language, etc.).

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 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. In most cases, a warning is issued to members so they have an opportunity to correct their behavior and continue to participate on the forums. Immediate bans are issued only when the there is a flagrant violation of the Terms of Service such as spam postings or obvious trolling.

Moderator Selection Process

Moderators are nominated by the current moderator team and membership. 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.

Those members who are selected to become moderators are required to 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. Enjoy using the forums and good luck on your journey to become a doctor!