Skip to main content

Guidelines and Training for Moderators (Groups and Forums)


The role of moderators on the GCTLC platform (including for groups and site-wide forums) is to ensure users on the platform (including the moderators themselves) feel a sense of belonging, safety and inclusion when interacting virtually with others. Moderators are leaders on the platform and are therefore expected to demonstrate the type of conduct expected of others. The moderator is a position of trust and this trust is built by sharing and upholding the community’s core values and philosophy, as well as the GCTLC’s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is particularly important and moderators are expected to be intimately familiar with it, in particular in order to:


  • understand behaviour expectations;
  • identify prohibited behaviours; and
  • know what to do when prohibited behaviours occur. 


The GCTLC team and other community members are here to support moderators every step of the way. There are many tools and resources available to help in this regard (see sections below), and the guidelines, training tools, and other resources provided here can help you manage interpersonal relationships and interactions in online spaces. 


While some aspects of moderation are procedural, these guidelines are not meant to be inherently prescriptive but again can help guide and advise moderators in their day-to-day roles as community leaders. If at any time a moderator feels overwhelmed or uncertain about how to moderate a group or forum space, they are encouraged to reach out to the Chief Moderator ( for help or support.


Responsibilities and Authority

General responsibilities for moderators of groups and forums are as follows:


Checking that any new posts in the moderator’s assigned discussion space(s) (whether in forums or groups) adhere to platform guidelines. For example, this includes checking for posts that include derogatory language, spam or other inappropriate advertisements, or other hurtful/harmful behaviour or language. 

  • ACTION TO TAKE: In the absence of notifications, moderators should check their assigned forums or groups a minimum of twice (2x) per week.


Encouraging others to engage in a forum or group discussion. This is primarily through active participation of the moderator(s) themselves in the discussion.

  • ACTION TO TAKE: To encourage active participation from the community or group:
  1. Ensure to respond within three (3) days to posts in the forum or group you are moderating, to help develop conversation and make others feel welcome and heard.
  2. Invite other community members or group members to respond. This can be through a general question (e.g., “Does anyone else have any suggestions on where to find these types of resources?”) or a direct question to a specific user (e.g., “@Jerry, do you know where these resources can be found?”).
  3. If a forum or group discussion has had no activity for 7 days (1 week), add a new comment inviting community or group members to start a new conversation. The exception is in the case where the conversation has naturally ended, in which case no additional comments are needed (such as long after an event or webinar has concluded). Moderators should use their discretion and judgment to determine if a discussion needs further comments or not. 


Reporting any posts that are deemed to be in violation of the Code of Conduct. This is at the discretion of the moderator to decide if something is a violation of the Code of Conduct or not. However, moderators should take a more conservative approach and report any potential issues, even if there is doubt as to the severity or legitimacy of an issue. Moderators are not responsible for actions taken after they submit a report; once a report is submitted, it becomes the responsibility of the GCTLC administrators, the Chief Editor, the Chief Moderator, the Conduct Administrator, and/or the members of the GCTLC Advisory Committee to address the issue and any necessary follow-up. 


Examples of violations can again include: posts/comments that have derogatory or discriminatory language, spam or inappropriate advertisements, and more. Moderators should ask themselves the following questions when considering posts that may have violated the Code of Conduct:


  • What is the severity of the issue or comment/language? 
  • Does it warrant being reported to an appropriate authority or delegate through the Report an Issue form? This is at the discretion of the moderator, but it is always better to be safe and report something when in doubt.


  • ACTION TO TAKE: Complete the Report an Issue form and indicate in the form:
    1. The type of issue (spam comments or content, inappropriate or hurtful/harmful behaviour, technical issues, copyright infringement, or any other issues) as well as the location (URL of the forum, group, or other page on the GCTLC).
    2. The name of the user in question, if appropriate.
    3. The description of the issue.
    4. A URL link to the page where the issue is located (if applicable).

Once a report is submitted, it will be triaged to the appropriate delegate. In the case of the Chief Moderator or Conduct Administrator, they can then take necessary action to remedy the situation, which could include:

  • Deleting the comment/post;
  • Sending a warning email to the user;
  • Escalating a report to the DEBR subcommittee if the user’s unacceptable behaviour is not addressed;
  • Restricting or banning user access to site functionality;
  • Restricting or banning a user from administrative roles (e.g. moderators, forum and group leaders, reviewers, etc.);
  • Blocking a user account temporarily from accessing the GCTLC platform; or
  • Banning the user from the GCLTC online platform entirely.


Reminding users of the need to adhere to the Code of Conduct. This may be necessary if a discussion appears to be deviating from the expectations outlined in the Code of Conduct and is of low severity.

  • ACTION TO TAKE: In this case, moderators should add a comment to the discussion reminding users of the importance of adhering to the expectations outlined in the Code of Conduct. An example could include the following:
    • “This is a friendly reminder to all users that the GCTLC’s Code of Conduct has detailed guidelines for expected behaviours while using the GCTLC as well as ways of reporting behaviours that are contrary to the Code of Conduct. If you have any questions or concerns, you can also reach out to the Chief Moderator at”


Additional actions for Groups only:


Request that a user be removed from a group. The Chief Moderator has the ability to add and remove users from groups. If a user has (in the opinion of the group moderator) clearly violated the Code of Conduct for the GCTLC, the moderator can complete the Report an Issue form and request that the Chief Moderator remove them. If a group moderator is uncertain as to whether a user has violated the Code of Conduct, they can always reach out to the Chief Moderator ( for assistance. 

  • ACTION TO TAKE: To request that a user be removed from a group, complete the Report an Issue form and indicate in the form:
    1. The type of issue (spam comments or content, inappropriate or hurtful/harmful behaviour, technical issues, copyright infringement, or any other issues) as well as the location (URL of the forum, group, or other page on the GCTLC).
    2. The name of the user in question.
    3. The description of the issue.
    4. A URL link to the group page where the issue is located.

If a user continues rejoining a group (in particular for groups that are open access) and does not respect the decision of the moderator, the moderator should notify the Chief Moderator immediately. The Chief Moderator may then choose to ban the user from the GCTLC or temporarily deactivate their account.


Remove user-contributed content from a group. If a user has added files or other content to a group space that (in the opinion of the moderator) violates the Code of Conduct for the GCTLC, the group moderator can request that the Chief Moderator remove the files or otherwise address the issue as needed. Problematic files could include personal information about other users, irrelevant content or advertisements (e.g., ads for household appliances), harmful posters or documents that contain derogatory language, etc.

  • ACTION TO TAKE: To request that content be removed from a group, complete the Report an Issue form and indicate in the form:
  1. The type of issue (spam comments or content, inappropriate or hurtful/harmful behaviour, technical issues, copyright infringement, or any other issues) as well as the location (URL of the forum, group, or other page on the GCTLC).
  2. The name of the user in question, if appropriate.
  3. The description of the issue.
  4. A URL link to the group page where the issue is located.


Training for Moderators

Required Reading

In addition to the GCTLC Code of Conduct, moderators on the GCTLC are expected to be familiar with some basic principles of online moderation. The following resources from the Discord Safety Library collection of resources can help moderators gain the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed and thrive in their roles. While these resources are sometimes geared towards team leaders or other roles in the Discord platform, the spirit and intent of the resources critically overlap with the GCTLC and are therefore important to read carefully:



Recommended (Optional) Reading and Resources

Additional resources from the Discord Safety Library provide more information and guidance around moderation of online spaces:



Best Practices

The following tips and tricks are meant to help new moderators for forum and group spaces on the GCTLC navigate content moderation and behaviour of users on the platform. The guidelines are not exhaustive but can provide simple approaches to creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for all users.


How do you create an inclusive group or forum? What advice would you give a new moderator?


  • Moderators must set a good example. They are not only leaders but also facilitators - a shared space is meant to reflect many voices, not just one or a few. Moderators are expected to lead by example:
    • In the case of groups, the moderator is the “face” of the group.
    • Moderators should strive to create a culture that reflects the values and philosophy of the GCTLC
    • Moderators should be respectful of others and encourage participation.
    • Moderators should strive to always embody and live the values of Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Respect (DEBR) throughout their experience and responsibilities on the GCTLC.
  • Intention is key, not only on the part of the moderator (exhibiting good intention) but also on the part of regular users (understanding their intentions and helping them to see how to align them in a positive direction). No one is perfect and this is not the expectation, but having good intentions can help feed into the intentions of others. As a result, moderators should not be overly self-critical. In addition, they should make sure to hold a sense of empathy and understanding for where others may be coming from in their intentions. A user’s approach to conversation may be well-intended but may not always come off in that way. Moderators should help guide them in the best direction possible.
  • Consistency is also key. This is important for building good relationships. Members need to feel that moderators are responding in a consistent and timely manner. This helps them feel seen and heard. Your responses must be equitable and unprejudiced (being consistent in the same way with users from different backgrounds and cultures). Although it takes time and energy, it is necessary to help create a strong sense of belonging.
  • There are two aspects to creating inclusive space: functionality and moderation. From a technical standpoint, the GCTLC system is set up in a way to help encourage inclusion of users through functional features like email notifications and reporting functions. In addition, consider opting for open group and forum spaces (e.g., avoid closed or private groups unless absolutely necessary) to facilitate discussion and a sense of belonging. Furthermore, once group and forum spaces are created, use moderation to further help users feel they belong.
  • Invite users into conversation. When interacting in person, body language can help others feel comfortable and show a genuine interest in what they have to say. Online, moderators and users use emojis, text, and other features to substitute for body language. Be mindful of this when writing responses to others.
  • It is okay for people to engage in different ways. Some people prefer to actively participate and some people prefer to wait a while before engaging. Users from other cultures, from visible minority groups, and from different gender identities may choose to read but not initially post in online spaces due to a desire to first feel safe in the space. It’s critical for moderators to be patient and provide as much support as possible when engaging with users. Give space for users to express themselves (either frequently, infrequently, etc.), because they may not be ready to engage right away or in the same way as others.
  • Listen actively and actively request feedback. In addition, use a collegial, welcoming, respectful and polite tone. This is a professional space and must be treated as such. This includes ensuring that language is professional and “business casual”. Even in cases where users may not respond in the same tone, it is important to maintain the same spirit. If user responses do not adhere to the Code of Conduct, let the user know in a respectful way, or if necessary report their post through the Report an Issue form.
  • Visual appeal may help create further sense of belonging and community. Consider using an appropriate photo or image for the group or  how information is structured in the description of the group. The space should be seen as inviting and welcoming.
  • If a moderator finds violations of the Code of Conduct, consider the following:
    • What is the severity of the issue or comment/language? 
    • Does it warrant being reported to an appropriate authority or delegate through the Report an Issue form? This is at the discretion of the moderator, but it is always better to be safe and report something when in doubt.
  • Show group members and users that they are cared for.
  • Know your audience! This will vary from group to group, but can help with engagement and support.


For more information, please refer to guidelines from other sites that support moderators in their online moderation responsibilities:


How do you foster engagement?


  • Invite others to join the conversation. This can be done through speaking with colleagues in person at events (e.g., conferences) or at your school or institution. But pointing people to the conversations happening in the GCTLC and encouraging them to check it out can be a simple and effective way to get them involved.
  • Post regularly and often. Add your own comments to a forum thread, group, or learning object, even if it’s the first one on the page. Users may feel shy or unwilling to participate until they see others participating first, so making those posts can help spark conversation. This is especially important if discussions aren’t happening organically, in which case moderators should post discussion starters (e.g., “tell us about your favourite green chem resource”).
  • Let other users know about the forum. Moderators can consider mentioning their group or forum in other places on the GCTLC, in order to invite others to join in and find the information they need.


  • Create engagement around in-person or online activities. Engagement online often stems from existing meetings or get-togethers (whether in person or online). These could include symposia or conferences, summits, webinars, workshops, and more.


  • Invite a guest commentator. Moderators could consider having a guest commentator or expert for a day or set period of time, where users can “ask them anything” related to green chemistry education. This is a good way to get to know members of a group.
  • Advertise connections to bigger picture topics. This could include systems thinking or the UN SDGs
  • Engage with others communities and sectors in the discussion. For example, for industry, tying in discussions of regulatory changes (e.g., PFAS) to education can spur further discussion and bring in new participants.


Understanding Different Types of Groups and Forums, and Their Different Needs

Moderation depends on the size of the group or forum, the need and intention of the group, the culture of the group, and more. As such, moderators may need to be adaptive, and more than one moderator may be needed for a given forum or group space.

In the case of groups, they can be created for any number of different reasons and to fill any number of needs - as such, interactions in those groups will vary from informal and humorous to more formal and programmatic. Moderators need to be aware of the culture and intention of groups and to moderate content and interaction appropriately or reflective of that culture and intention.

Some examples of different types of groups could include:

  • A working group of high school teachers discussing the advantages and disadvantages of student-centered learning for green chemistry concepts and activities.
  • A group for the Green Chemistry Connections as a networking and post-webinar discussion space.
  • A small group of conference attendees interested in staying in touch in a more informal way.
  • A group of industry stakeholders and higher education lecturers focused on bringing more examples of green chemistry in an industrial R&D setting into course content.
  • A working group of faculty trying to develop greener lab experiments for undergraduate analytical chemistry courses.


Transitioning or Changing Moderators

Forum Moderators

Because moderators of site-wide forums are assigned by GCTLC administrators to manage those forums, then if a moderator chooses to step down from their role they will need to reach out to the Chief Moderator ( or the site administrators ( to have a new moderator assigned. 


Group Moderators

Creating a New Group

When a group is first created, the user who put in the original submission to create the group automatically becomes the first moderator for that group. 


Assigning Additional Moderators to a Group

Groups can have more than one moderator and the first moderator can, at any time, assign other group members to be additional moderators for that group. However, there must be AT LEAST one moderator per group


Leaving a Group

If a moderator wishes to leave the group, they must communicate this to the rest of the group and ensure that either there is at least one moderator remaining in the group or a new moderator has been assigned before they leave. If it is determined that a group does not have any active moderators assigned, the Chief Moderator may choose to either assign an existing group member to be the moderator, or may disable/delete the group.


Support for Moderators

In addition to this document and the training material and resources provided herein, the following tools and resources are also available to help support moderators in their roles on the GCTLC:

  • Chief Moderator Office Hours - this is a dedicated time to speak one-on-one with the Chief Moderator, ask questions, and discuss current issues or challenges. This would be once per week.


  • GCTLC Moderator Group - A dedicated group for moderators to ask questions of each other and help collective brainstorm and discuss trends and issues.
  • Virtual monthly meet-up - This is a dedicated time for moderators to come together and ask questions/learn from one another. This could include presentations, overviews of training documents or readings of interest, and time for mentors/mentees to meet and share insights/ask questions or discuss common topics of interest (dates and times to be determined).
  • Moderator workshop (semi-annual, dates to be determined) - This is to be confirmed at a later date.
  • Mentorship - A “buddy contact system”, more senior moderators can offer to be put on a list where they can be contacted by other moderators who have questions related to online moderation.