Things to consider when moderating a chat on Twitter

This post is just some prompts about the areas I covered during my Skype presentation to TeachMeet Memphis.  It is intended to help anyone who may be deciding to set up and/or moderate a chat using Twitter, with a primary focus on my own experience of #mathchat.  Feel free to comment or ask further questions if anything is not clear or you need some help!

  • What type of chat is it going to be: a one-off special for a conference or something more regular?
    #mathchat is held twice a week, on Thursdays at a North American-friendly time, and again on Mondays at a more Euro-friendly time
  • If it’s a regular chat, how will you choose the time?  Is it going to be for one world region or more than one?
    #mathchat was decided by a Twtpoll
  • What hashtag are you going to use?  Is it unique?
    #mathchat had been used before, but for a similar purpose.  My #mathgeek experiment, however, required a slightly different approach
  • Have you set up an archive for the chat?  How will it be organized, maintained and accessed?
    an archive for #mathchat was set up on TwapperKeeper and a second was set up on WhatTheHashtag?! which is also used to produce the ‘public’ record on the Wiki
  • How will you handle tweets on the hashtag outside discussion times?
    Tweets are usually answered directly by people monitoring the hashtag, but links, blog posts etc are not specifically recorded outside ‘official’ discussion times
  • How will you help newcomers to get the most from the chat?
    Help pages have been set up on the Wiki, and I have recorded a short video guide to both the main Wiki and the archive Wiki
  • Do you need a special Twitter account for the chat?
    #mathchat has @mathchat to make announcements related to the next discussion and to advised of changes to the Wiki.  For people who do a lot of tweeting, having a second account can help avoid API count limits impacting on your ability to Tweet and RT
  • How and how often will you publicize the chat?
    #mathchat uses @mathchat to publicize and tweets are generally scheduled for 6-hour or 8-hour intervals to allow for different time-zones.  It is usually tweeted out to #edchat #ukedchat #elemchat #scichat #ntchat #nqtchat and #gtchat since these Twitter discussions often have issues or interests in mathematics education
  • How will you generate and decide on topics for discussion?
    #mathchat has a Google document which is shared through the Wiki, and topics are usually voted on using Twtpoll.  Occasionally, a special topic will be chosen because of a current interest or because of a guest moderator

Other things you may need to consider are how you will participate as a moderator – with prompt questions, by RTing without further comment, by asking for further information… If your chat takes off in a big way, you will also need to consider how many people you need to help you manage the moderation.  At the moment, #mathchat seems to be bubbling along with a small group that tweets and comments on each other, we also have a lot of lurkers too!  It’s good to have a break from moderating every now and again though, so having a small team of three or four people to help out can make things a lot less stressful.

One response to “Things to consider when moderating a chat on Twitter

  1. Pingback: Så chatta på Twitter – texten från min webcast för TeachMeet SkolForum2010 | Sine of the Times: Dividing the Universe by Zero

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