Everyone knows that being the moderator of a website is a thankless job. In fact, it's often the opposite of thankful. Forum denizens are caustic assholes, more often than not, and the fact that you have the audacity to make them adhere to any sort of rules which prevent them from being just that makes them angry. When it's for a gaming website, the potential for nerd rage grows exponentially.
I'd say, compared to my peers, I get relatively few hate mails about my modding. That said, I also don't get many love mails either. My inbox is often filled with random people posturing to try to get on my good side, a few honestly friendly individuals, and the rest are all people confused about something or another.
This is why I rarely bring it up. Everyone knows that the internet is like The Crow; where there are 3 or 4 good guys and everyone else is for some reason a malicious sadist if they aren't completely oblivious. The bad guys are numerous but they aren't actually evil, they're just assholes.
When I post on the forum I moderate, I act like any other user. Despite that I can lock your thread, or have you banned. Why? Well, because even though I can do those things when needed, I am just another member of the community. And since it's my duty to at least have a look into every thread posted, every now and then I encounter someone who could really, truly use my help.
I say that loosely. They could use anyone's help, certainly. But getting sincere help from another human on the internet isn't easy to do. Most people will either jokingly tell you to kill yourself or regurgitate memes until their fingertips are raw. No one likes to acknowledge, for one reason or another, that the people they're talking to online are actual people. People with lives that may or may not be crappier than their own.
This is why no matter how unlikely the case may be when it presents itself, I always, always respond constructively. You know, actually try to help someone in need. Whether it may just be a cry for attention or not. People cry out for attention for a reason afterall. After losing a friend to suicide, I can say with all certainty that they won't always seek help from someone they know face-to-face.
It's to that end I bring you this story. Some time ago, a member of the GT community came to me seeking advice. Their life was in a bad place at the time and they didn't know what to do. I offered them advice, as I would anyone else seeking it, and proceeded to corresponded with them a few times over the next couple of weeks. When things seemed alright, I walked away and almost had forgotten all about it. Even knowing what I know about anonymity and an audience, I didn't consider what I did anything out of the ordinary.
Today, after having not logged on in over 3 months (RL gets in the way of moderating sometimes), I had a message in my inbox. The name wasn't immediately familiar. When I opened it, I was shocked. But in a good way. I'd apparently done more than I even knew, and I wasn't even aware of the magnitude of their situation. I was just doing something unheard of on the internet: being nice.