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I put together something like this for the ladies on the previous DDC I was a mommy guide for (it was a while ago now) and they said they had found it very helpful, so here we are again!
You may have noticed up top along with my stickies there is a sticky about finding co-hosts for the DDC. If you click into it you will find information on how to apply as well as some basic information on what is expected of a host.
I have been hosting at JM on and off since I first joined back in 2006 and I absolutely love doing it. Having been a forum addict since forums were invented, I can say that this is the best I have ever been part of, totally unique in its atmosphere and a community of genuine friends. I count myself as lucky to have been given the opportunity to work on this forum and give something back. Here is some information for you all from my experiences, and please feel free to ask further questions either here or in PMs, and Megan (megpie) and I will do our best to answer you - she may have things to chip in as well for you.
So what is a host?
Hosts are board leaders. They keep the board going by reading, replying and posting new topics regularly. They also keep a watchful eye and report any spam or potential drama to JM moderators to keep the board friendly and welcoming.
Hosts are essentially volunteers, expected to be around regularly at least 2-3 times per week (unless on holiday or have notified admin they will be MIA temporarily for genuine reasons); post at least around 5 new topics per week; and reply to as many of their members' posts as they are able.
Hosts must be 18 or over have 100 posts on JM, and be members for 30 days prior to hosting. You must be due in November and be active on the November DDC.
Why would I want to be a host?
It's fun being a host! It's lots of fun coming up with challenges, discussions, games etc to keep your members entertained. It's fun to compete with other boards in the Top 50 boards and see where you came. It's fun being part of a whole hosting team and sharing ideas.
If you've ever fancied leading or being staff on a forum, hosting is a great first step. I have learned lots about how forums work from hosting and now moderate here and on another forum, and am in the process of setting up my own very small specific forum for online spiritual learning.
If you're at home, it keeps you busy and connected to other moms, and it also keeps your brain active if you're not working. JM has really given me a focus at times where I've been out of work and stopped me falling into that trap of getting down because of feeling I can't contribute to the world. And for working moms, it's a wonderful hobby to come home to evenings and weekends, combining chatting amongst friends and talking about your babies!
What, specifically, will I do as a host?
The ladies who are chosen to be co-hosts on this DDC will essentially take over from myself and megpie as the board leaders. This usually happens 2-3 months in. You will carry on throughout your pregnancies and when the DDC changes to a PR after the last baby is born, unless you decide to step down.
On a daily basis, or however many times you can be around during the week, if you'd like an active board you will need to post new topics. Don't worry too much about what - things come up naturally, there are resources for hosts to use, and you can look around at other boards for ideas too. The minimum is around 5 per week but in reality if you want an active board I would say at least 1-2 a day and more as and when you can.
When you look at your board when you come on for the day, instead of thinking like any other member and picking out the topics you want to reply to, you'll need to prioritise them in a rather different way and with the aim of answering as many as you can, basically thinking about who most seems to need a kind, neutral, fair and friendly response rather than replying to the people you "like the best" first. Of course, when you are in need of support yourself, it's absolutely ok to take a few days off "hosting mode" and just come on as a member.
There's also all the things that go unwritten in the hosting application. Things members see on other boards and want for their DDC. Coming up with a DDC theme, and then naming stickies and subforums appropriately. Matching people up with due date buddies who can update when the big event happens. Keeping on top of due dates, appointment stickies and anything else you ladies feel is important to collect dates for. Arranging a cyber shower if the ladies want one (even though this isn't a recommended activity due to exchange of addresses). Organising board banners or graphics. Some of these things take a lot of work to set up. However, you can of course enlist help, make a committee, delegate. It doesn't have to be all on you, but it's up to you to decide that and act accordingly. I find getting your members to vote on stuff helps a lot.
But you are of course allowed to take breaks and holidays and family time when needed. Everything is done on your own goodwill and very much appreciated. Nobody expects you to put your own needs aside or even second and the motto is very much "family comes first". Things get done as and when and it's all good. So there is absolutely no need for it to become a stressful or pressuring thing.
What sort of person makes a good host?
This is what I think personally, and I've seen excellent hosts, adequate hosts and everything in between.
- Can remain neutral in an argument
- Cares enough to say something even if it's just (((hugs)))
- Creative and imaginative and/or resourceful - able to pull ideas out of the hat whether they're from your own head or research!
- Team player - to get the best from your board, you'll need to work closely with your co-host and the wider hosting team
- Able to devote at least 2-3 hours a week and more sometimes if you can manage it (spread in whatever way works for you) of your spare time to do stuff for your board whether on the board or behind the scenes
- Fun but knows when to be serious
- Gives everyone the benefit of the doubt initially and able to see the good in everybody
You do not have to be technically computer savvy. Most of the tech stuff is done by moderators or admins and you just put the requests in. And you will learn by doing lots of little tricks that make your life easier.
You also do not have to be a BTDT mom. BTDT moms have the advantage of their experience. But first-time moms have the advantage of the freshness, the newness, the anticipation, the excitement, and coming up with all manner of questions for their members of course! Both can be equally wonderful.
At the core of it, you need to know how to be a friend, and lead by example.
What support will I receive?
New hosts receive host mentors, who are experienced hosts who'll guide you and give you pointers your first few weeks. You will also have a place to post for help where your mentor or other mentors and hosts who happen to be online will reply. There is also a support guide for new hosts there.
You are also very welcome to call on me for help, information or advice if you feel the need at first, and I'm sure Megan will say the same!
There is a bank of resources for hosts to use - you do not have to think of everything from the top of your head. You'll also pick up ideas from other hosts and learn tips and tricks from them.
If you experience problems on your board, you can report them to moderators and administrators who can help and advise you.
And probably most importantly of all, as they're the people you post with day in, day out...you have your members to fall back on! You are bound to have a number of really active members who will enjoy being involved in the board, so get them involved organising things and ASK them if you need to be away for a week and need someone to "cover".
Hopefully this shows that there really is nothing to fear and whatever happens your back is well and truly covered.
Are there any down-sides?
You need to know if you're seriously considering this, so I will be honest and say there are some. You may be lucky and find yourself in a DDC that doesn't see any of it. But if not, remember you have a lot of support to fall back on.
There are two main down-sides for me. One is loss. If you're a good host, you are likely to get emotionally involved with a lot of ladies. If losses happen, and let's hope they don't, it can be very hard going on the whole DDC and you and your co-host and mainstay members will need to carry them through it. Being strong and compassionate helps. My guess is that, since we're all women with some life experience, this applies to every single person here.
The other is drama. DDCs can be hormonal bubbling pots. A lot of drama can be contained by the atmosphere you instil in a DDC from the beginning - if you aim to keep it inclusive and supportive, welcoming newbies, keeping posts neutral and fair and acknowledging others' views as valid, it makes a real difference, and people do follow your lead. It also helps if you're vigilant and nip any arguments /disagreements / accusations in the bud before they get nasty - and shout for help if you're not sure what to do. It's hard to remain neutral if your "friends" are involved sometimes, but remain neutral you must - that's the hardest part of it.
If you know you will be ok dealing with either situation (and ok really is ok...goodness knows I have dealt with certain things far less than perfectly...as long as you're doing your best people are very forgiving!), you really do have the makings of an excellent host.
What do I need to include in my application?
You will need to copy and paste a form into PMs and send it to Rachel. Most of the questions are very brief and just give a picture of you as a JM member.
The main things to put more thought into are firstly, that you must provide links to three topics you have posted on the board - so if you're interested and thinking about it, you may want to be active in posting new topics then you have a few to choose from. Generally speaking I would recommend including ones that have had the best response and a variety. Secondly, you will need to explain your ideas for making the board active, fun and a friendly community. Only you can come up with that part, though if you're new to JM and really not sure what sorts of things to include, you are welcome to run things by me.
The admins will decide on the two hosts, though in most cases, everyone who applies is usually equally great and I have no idea how they make those final decisions! If you apply and don't get chosen, don't get downhearted either. It certainly won't mean there was anything wrong with you or your application, just that they had more than they needed. There are times when ladies have to step down due to changes in their own life later on (such as a new job or another pregnancy) and some DDCs/PRs become so busy that the hosts decide a third co-host is needed. Chat hosts will also be needed for a DDC and I'm sure there will be plenty of things, as mentioned above, that the hosts will need organisers and leaders for. So there is plenty of chance to be an active contributing member of a DDC.
And for ladies who have hosted on JM before...
...but not on a DDC.
There are some specific differences! I have hosted a number of the special interest boards on JM which attract fairly small communities, such as Spiritual Living and UK & Ireland Mummies. If you have hosted similar boards before but never a DDC, do consider that it will be different.
During much of my pregnancy I spent MOST of my JM time in the DDC. There was always something to reply to and something to do! I wanted to be the best host that I could be for it and while I hung on to my existing boards at the time I probably didn't do them as much justice for a while.
I had also never really come across drama, or fakers, prior to hosting a DDC, and I was ill-prepared for it. Luckily for me, my co-host had seen it all before and I learned from her. But do be prepared. Clock threads that could turn into drama before they do and keep more of an eye on them. Ask for help from other hosts or report to the mods at the first sniff of trouble. I have to say, hosting a DDC was really the making of me being ready to moderate here.
I have also never hosted a more rewarding board - and I host some REALLY rewarding boards. It's really something to have the privilege to make a difference to a large group of women experiencing pregnancy together. What you do here sometimes makes a real difference to women who may be lonely, struggling, having problems, worried, poorly, frightened, inexperienced, needing advice. When those ladies reach term and all the babies begin to arrive, that buzz of being there for them at the end of a long journey is really something...and then you have the new challenge (after you've made it through the sleep-deprived early days yourself) of re-inventing your board as a fun and active PR, a place of sharing your babies' milestones and mom dilemmas together...as well as friendship.
I hope this may have helped some of you, may even have put a possibility in a few ladies' minds who hadn't even thought about it before. It really is a great opportunity and a rewarding thing to do, whatever your reason for wanting to.
If you have any further questions, please just ask, or if you need any more help, again, please just ask.
Anyone who has been a host before please chip in if I forgot anything!
I'll sticky this when it starts to sink. Lurking mommy guides can feel welcome to copy/paste/amend etc.
Last edited by Carwen*Angel; March 8th, 2013 at 02:53 PM.
I hosted my daughter's DDC. Its great fun! Dont feel like you need to be a JM veteran cause I sure wasnt and I think I did a pretty good job. I will say though that it does take a lot of time and work.