What does it take to be a chat moderator?
I've been a chat moderator for three years now, and I absolutely love it. It may be my dream job, but it's not an easy job. First of all, you've got to be enthusiastic, flexible and friendly at all times. I may be a work-at-home mum, but I still have to look after three kids, a dog and a husband. Trying to remain positive and attentive at all times in the chat room can be a real challenge, especially if the kids are acting up, or the dog is chewing through the banister again.
You've also got to be switched on at all times. Bingo sites have so many different games, competitions, promotions and side attractions, and I've got to know how each works. Roomies are always asking for help, and I can answer the same question many times a day. I've got to be polite and helpful at all times, even though sometimes I feel like saying 'just read the blimmin' FAQs!'
What's the worst part of the job?
It took me a while to get used to the erratic shift patterns as well – sometimes I work in the morning, and other times I work through the night. I think it's a bit like having jetlag – so much so that I've christened it chat-lag. The other day I was so tired that I accidentally put my slippers in the oven. Thank god for smoke alarms, LOL!
I also hate banning players from a chat room, but sometimes, it's necessary, especially if they use bad language. It's not just swearing though – roomies are not allowed to be racist, religiously offensive, or beg for cash from other players. Usually a warning will suffice, but if the roomie carries on misbehaving, they'll be banned for life by us chat moderators.
How do chat games work?
Chat games are the best and worst part of the job. Roomies love to win free bonuses, and chat games can get very busy, and very competitive. Usually they're simple – guessing games and number games, but some sites insist on running crazy and complicated team events.
It's easy for these to get out of hand, and a good chat moderator needs to know the precise rules, and keep an eye on winners and cheeky cheaters too. My favourite is Rhyme Time - I type a word and roomies must come up with the best rhyme. A million points to the first player who can come up with a word to rhyme with ORANGE or RADIO.
Would you like to win an award?
A chat host award is a wonderful thing to win – it gives you a good name, and you can also ask for a better rate of pay. Several different bingo sites run chat host awards, and thousands of roomies vote for their favourite.
What do players talk about in a chat room?
Mainly it's day-to-day stuff and TV gossip. What's for tea, who's on X Factor, look at Kat Slater's new boyfriend etc. A chat room is a relaxing place most of the time – nothing too strenuous like politics or philosophy.
Whenever there's a reality TV show on, the chat room gets incredibly busy – everybody's got an opinion, and things can get quite heated. I love nothing more than tuning into X Factor and chat moderating at the same time – the room can get so busy that the text scrolls past in a blur. Incredible fun, but it's also hard work too – once again, I've got to multitask and keep my eye on the game.
Do chat hosts engage players to spend longer at the site?
It's my job to encourage roomies to play, to buy tickets, and to promote upcoming games. I can't help be enthusiastic, because the promotions are so fabulous. However, there is a very fine line – I'm aware that some players can get addicted to bingo, so my behaviour cannot be irresponsible. Some roomies are always online playing, and I know how to recognise the signs of addiction. With that in mind, I like to gently point them towards links to charity sites for players with problems, like Gamcare.
How did you get your job?
The competition is fierce for chat moderator jobs – after all, who wouldn't love to play bingo and get paid? Join various bingo forums, and email sites asking if they're looking for a potential chat moderator – this is what I did, and it paid off beautifully. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to moderate on a £25,000 jackpot bingo game, and I've pre-bought a few tickets as well. It's going to be quite an evening!