By Carol Tice
Today I’d like to talk about a growing writing niche that’s a bit off the beaten trail — community moderating. Indeed.com recently had 83 job listings for community moderators, both for free local forums and for pay, moderating online forums for companies — Allstate, Fox Entertainment, and many others. Corporate moderators learn to be the “voice” of the brand to their online community.
I’d like to introduce WM readers to someone who’s got a paid moderating gig — my awesome Make a Living Writing Web developer Tony Kehlhofer — that’s his mug above. After six months of freelancing, Tony, who’s an experienced programmer, started a couple of Web sites he’s monetizing, Maps4Kids and TotalCraigSearch (lets you search Craigslist across many cities at once for jobs, check it out!)…and was recently trolling for more freelance work.
He answered a Craigslist ad — NOT kidding! — and several rounds of interviews later found himself moderating building-block giant Lego’s new massive-multiplayer online game for tweens, Lego Universe. They flew him to Denmark for training…can you say dream job? He reports it’s decent, steady money and there’s growth potential aplenty. His edge: They wanted someone bilingual-German, and Tony lived in Austria for years. I was dying to hear the details, and thought WM could listen in:
CT: Tony, what did you say to Lego that got you this amazing gig? Did you have any moderating experience?
TK: I didn’t really have any. I said I’m familiar with online tools and gaming, I’m willing to work as a contractor, and I spoke the required language, German, which is the second language they’re going to roll out. I interviewed on Skype in English, then on Skype in German and took a written test in German. They flew me to Denver to meet the hiring executive, and then to Denmark.
CT: What did you learn about moderating in Denmark?
TK: We went through extensive psychology and policy meetings. We talked about trademark issues — you can’t be “Luke Skywalker” on Lego Universe. We learned how pedophiles groom children online so we can spot them. There were up to 20 people on my team there, who’re based everywhere, Spain, Italy. I’m one of the oldest members (laughs)…by far.
CT: What-all do you moderate within the game?
TK: Everything, even the usernames. The conversations the players have when they get in an area together. There are also community forums.
CT: What kind of hours do you work for Lego Universe?
TK: I’m working 16-20 hours a week now, and it will ramp up to 24-32 hours a week when it goes live. I was in the program, which is in beta, last week and had to approve over 300 new usernames in a few hours. My afternoon is the middle of the night in Germany, so I save them having to pay third-shift overtime.
CT: What sort of future opportunities do you see now that you’re in moderating?
TK: I think there’s a whole career path here in moderation that is pretty incredible. For me, the neat thing is there’s another company involved with Lego, eModeration.com. They do a first level of screening out problems. Their client list is exceptional — MTV, Disney, Canon. So I’ve made a connection there.
CT: Any final advice on finding unusual jobs such as this one?
TK: Search widely. I have eight or nine regular search terms I use to find jobs on Craigslist in Seattle, and I would never have found this one if I hadn’t decided to also search on “German.”
Since this interview, I’ve posted on my own site about more jobs in social media — take a gander over to Make a Living Writing to learn more.
This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.