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What you need to know about community moderators

Has your guide been rated by a moderator in the last couple of weeks? Are you curious as to why?

We recently told you about an alteration to the editorial policy, which would give a greater role to the community when it comes to rating and commenting on guides. You might have noticed that a new team of community moderators has been assessing the guides on Simonseeks, leaving ratings and comments on not just the latest work, but some of the older guides too.

This team of 18 – all active Simonseeks writers – has been tasked with reading guides, rating them according to quality and providing comments and helpful feedback. They all now have the “moderator” role added to their site byline.

Do we need more community moderators?

At the moment, no. Though we might ask for more volunteers in the near future. See the list of 18 here.

Why are guides rated?

Simonseeks wants readers to find the most valuable and enjoyable destination information. To enable this, we encourage users to promote the best guides - they do this by rating the top-notch information with a high score. That way, when a reader searches for a destination, or when they click on the top-rated guides tab on the home page, the best travel guides on the site are listed first.

Who can rate and comment on guides?

Of course, it’s not just the moderators who can rate and comment on guides. Every user on Simonseeks is able to leave feedback. As a writer, your Simonseeks profile could receive a boost if you frequently rate and comment on guides, as other writers on the site are likely to click through to your work if they see you are active across Simonseeks. Consider rating other guides about your favourite destinations, or check out travel guides to destinations you’re about to visit.

You are not constrained to simply saying if you like the guide overall. You can ask questions of the author, tell them if you enjoyed the style of writing, leave feedback if you like/dislike a particular recommendation, ask to see more photographs...there’s no limit to the interaction you can have.

The general rules across the rest of the site apply to comments: no abuse, foul language or defamatory comments, no spam etc. See our terms of use.

Let us know what you think below.

Community comments (16)

Hi - Must admit I've found the new moderating system difficult. I successfully subbed one guide and followed up with another which was rejected. I've re-assessed it against guidelines but still can't work out why it was rejected. Only thing I can think is that maybe too much personal anecdote or not the type of holiday (barge trip) required, but although I asked whether this was the case, nobody got back to me. I know people are taking on the moderating role on a voluntary basis, but I wonder whether they could just tick against the guideline they feel the work is not meeting or just a one line comment? It does take hours of work to sub a guide and it would be useful to have clarification about what's needed before re-subbing as well as saving more work for the moderator in the longer term. Thanks.

Hi Catherine.

Just a quick note to clarify things. It’s not the job of the moderators to reject or publish guides, that’s up to the editors of the site. The moderators do a great job of commenting and rating guides on the site once they’re published.

Re: your latest guide. Have you checked the history tab (to be found above your guide?). Cathy, a fellow editor, has left a note in there about why your guide has not yet been published. It looks like it’s only a couple of minor points.

Hope this helps.

Hi - This helps SO much! Thank you very much - I didn't realise what the history tab was for. I shall re-sub asap. Best wishes.

Just to say that I'm not always the brightest spark in the grate, and I did sometimes fume about not understanding where I'd fallen short - and then I discovered the 'history' button, by reading about it in a blog somewhere, and lo, all became clear! Moral is, I suppose, to keep up with the info on the blogs.
In case it helps somebody else, I recently found that the reason I couldn't get hotel pics in the hotel box, after numerous frustrating attempts, was because they were taken in 'portrait' mode, whereas the box is in 'landscape.' Never the twain, etc. I expect most of you knew that, but it might enlighten somebody. There, you see! Information in a blog!

Since Jeanette and I seem to be talking at cross purposes, can I appeal to the wider community of moderators for advice on the policy of photos. I have seen at least one guide by a highly ranked writer which had no photos at all. If the policy is now that having multiple photos is an absolute prerequisite of a guide being accepted, I would like to see this clearly stated. Otherwise you are left not knowing whether this is the only problem or if there are problems with the text as well.

The guide I've just submitted and had rejected is not trying to sell a destination, it is purely giving practical info on cheap accommodation in well known cities, and I'm trying to sell the general concept of staying in student rooms rather than any particular place. I'm struggling to see what photos of dreary university halls of residence would add to the guide. The sites which are linked to have loads of photos of them. I attached one photo taken at a conference dinner just because it was a striking image and I thought it would make people look twice, which I understood to be the function of the photos.

I think photos help make the guides more attractive and appealing, and I generally like seeing some images of the things I'm reading about. I take your point about your guide, but if photos of the accommodation don't add anything, maybe photos of the cities/universities would? It wouldn't be a difficult thing to do, as there are image databases you could use if you don't have your own (visitbritain, amongst others).

The moderators don't have anything to do with the rejection process, as Kevin pointed out. I've also had a couple of guides initially rejected, but they both came out looking the better for it, so I welcome the editors suggestions.

(Btw, some of the older guides were submitted under slightly different guidelines, so that might explain the lack of photos.)

Thanks for this Beate, this is the most helpful response I've had during the whole process. Contrary to the impression people seem to have got, I am not complaining about the mere fact of having had a guide rejected. I had two previous guides initially rejected and then accepted after revision, but in those cases it was easier to undertand the problem - basically they were too long. What really winds me up about the approval system at Simonseeks is the refusal to give clear explanations of what exactly the problem is. I have done writing for other media, and I've always had a straightforward back-and-forth with editors about ways my work could be improved, without having to try to read their minds.

I understand your frustration.

It might be good if the editors addressed the photo issue, but I suspect the answer will be that photos are needed. I was even asked to provide more attractive photos for one of my early guides (though they had a point on that one).


The moderator role is about looking at and commenting on guides once they are on the site. The task of first ensuring guides are of an acceptable standard to be published remains, quite rightly, the sole responsibility of the editorial team at Simonseeks.

Those who have taken on the community moderator role have done so, not to take editorial responsibility or decisions as to what is published and what isn't, but to benefit the site by ensuring guides end up with more than one comment.

Previously, as you will be aware, all to often an editor would add a comment to a guide and no one else would. What we are doing is ensuring guides receive more comments and writers get more balanced feedback.

I have also had guides rejected by editors and have gone carefully through their advice and included, or removed, what was asked of me before resubmitting it. Can I suggest that you look at Jeanette's comments, follow her guidance and resubmit your guide once it is of an acceptable standard.

Elaine - If you have some guide ideas, go for it! The editors tend to reject guides if they're really badly written or are obviously written from a marketing point-of-view. But now the editors will publish guides for the moderators (and anyone else) to review and rate. Chances are, if it's good it'll get lots of ratings whereas in the past guides tended to get just one rating from the editors.

Myra - I suspect the editors are "drip-feeding" guides to us for now to ensure moderators read and review all guides. Although I'm sure the holidays are having an effect too...

Thanks for the encouragement, Richard. I have just had my latest attempt rejected with the single comment from Jeannette, Do you have any more photos? There is not much point in phrasing this comment as a question when I have no way of replying to it. Actually I don't have any more relevant photos, so if that is an insurmountable obstacle to accepting it, I'm stuck. I think myself that the guide is at least good enough to let the moderators look at it. My first three guides were accepted straight off but the later three have all been rejected initially, so either I'm getting worse or the editors are getting more picky.

Hi Elaine,
If being picky means maintaining an acceptable standard of complete travel guides, then we will happily be called that! All guides that do not meet the standard are returned with instructions to look at our comprehensive dos and don’ts, plus an extra relevant note if necessary. As I said in the comment field when I returned your guide, I found the theme of your guide interesting, but felt that a single image of a harpist to illustrate a guide about student accommodation options in the UK was not really providing a full package. Perhaps you could consider contacting a couple of the accommodation options you are promoting and ask for an image that you could use…most businesses would be happy to do this.
PS. We are looking at ways to make communication easier between editors and writers, will keep you posted.

How is reproducing images supplied by accommmodation providers themselves any better than just letting readers click on the links I supplied and see lots of photos of the places?

It was a simple suggestion, as you have no other images to accompany your guide. Perhaps you have friends/colleagues who have images you could use? Elaine, we’re here to help, not hinder.

I reckon I could hazard a guess at why there are fewer guides coming through these days. All of the people who were full of enthusiasm at the start got fed up with either a) not being able to master the technical complexities of the site, or b) having their guides rejected with comments that don't really explain why they're no good and give no way of contacting the editors to ask for clarification. I still have lots of ideas for guides but I have been worn down by both these factors.

Hi Jeanette,
I think I have got the hang of what you require now, as a moderator, and see the point that promoting the best guides helps the readers and the site.
I do wonder why we have so few guides coming through just now - is it just a 'holiday' thing?