There was a time when people used to speak their minds and promote a healthy conversation for the good of the community. People still speak their minds but not necessarily with a positive mindset. It is visible that platforms are becoming more toxic and require online community moderation at several steps.
With evolving members, communities also need to take a step ahead as the flow of information is not consistently productive, leading to chaos at times.
Let’s start with understanding the aspects of online community moderation to overcome these difficulties.
Every community appoints moderators who act as a checkpoint. They restrict the entry of any unhygienic or below standard content on the platform. The content could be nudity, abusive language, hate speech, discriminatory comments, IPR (Intellectual Property Right) infringement activities, or any other unwanted user-generated content that is not in line with the community guidelines. Moderators constantly monitor the content and flag the pieces, which seem harmful to the community.
Efficient Online Community Moderation Mechanism
Come up with clearly defined Guidelines
Once you have decided to moderate the online community, there is a need to put out well-articulated guidelines that make sense to the community members. There is nothing more important than the set of protocols to help people follow the guidelines..
The guidelines must be crisp, to the point, and actionable at every stage. You should start with an overview, outlining the intent and then move forward with the Dos and Don’ts.
Here’s an example of an ‘overview’ for online community moderation:
We are a community of like-minded individuals, working towards a common goal of sharing fruitful information in a competitive yet healthy environment that promotes growth and prosperity. We are always open to suggestions and questions so that the community becomes bigger and better every coming day.
Here’s an example of Dos for online community moderation:
- Respect everyone’s opinion. If you do not agree with something, respectfully disagree.
- Protect your privacy. Only share the information suitable for going public, as everything is visible to the members.
- Share your knowledge. Be open to knowledge sharing and help in developing the community.
- Promote a healthy environment. Treat everyone equally and communicate with respect.
- Practice empathy. People have feelings, and we should respect that.
Here’s an example of Don’ts for online community moderation:
- Use hate-speech. We will not tolerate any insult to the members of our community.
- Post Plagiarised content. Members should maintain originality and only share the work of their own.
- Share unrelated or irrelevant information. We are working for a common goal. Every piece of information should be related and helpful for the community.
- Advertise products and services. This is not a platform to promote products or services.
- Share private information. Here, every piece of information is available in the public domain. Do not share any sensitive information.
Create an extensive FAQ knowledge base
You don’t want to keep responding to identical queries of the users when a simple FAQ section could come in handy as self-help. FAQ knowledge base will also help the users by saving a tremendous amount of time. This will result in clarity of thoughts, and more content churn out. FAQ sections should be updated regularly based on questions asked by the members through emails or DMs.
Here’s an example of FAQs for the community:
- What is this community all about?
- What is our common goal?
- What type of content is allowed on the platform?
- Why was my post taken down by the community?
- Is it allowed to post promotional content here?
It largely depends on the niche of the community, but some basic questions remain the same. As a moderator, it becomes critical to understand the offerings and then come up with this section.
Outline the Community Objectives
A community is nothing less than a brand, and every brand has an objective that helps in effective communication and implementation of plans. A community objective will help frame the guidelines as you will be well aware of the expectations and make ground rules accordingly.
Let’s start with an example to bring in more clarity.
A regular community would not allow political arguments on the platform, but it will get appreciated on a political discussions portal. Likewise, even nudity is allowed in the communities, which have their objectives aligned with that type of content.
We should remember, diverse content needs a suitable platform, and the same gets communicated through community objectives.
Communicate Community Standards Efficiently
Efficiency in communication is the principal aspect of moderating the content. The best moderation strategy would be the one with the least moderation requirements. This is only achieved after informing the members and keeping them aware of the community standards.
Here are the tips for achieving a constant flow of information:
- Start with a monthly newsletter outlining the community standards along with the recent updates, if any.
- Sometimes, post on social media using memes or other interactive mediums.
- Share links to the detailed guidelines to users who reach out for any queries or suggestions.
- There’s a fair chance of overdoing it by communicating more about the guidelines and less about the community. Do not post about guidelines more than once a month on a specific platform to avoid overdoing.
Create a clear Escalation Matrix
You cannot be sure that the moderator will always take the right decision while taking down the content. Some benefits of the doubt should go to the creators as well. A clearly defined escalation matrix will build trust in the community and help the members promote a healthy environment.
Communities can opt for a 3 step process to make the platform safe for other members:
Step 1: Provide Information: If you encounter content against the community guidelines, communicate the same to the user. Also, send the link containing detailed policies. This activity reduces future violations and makes the process of moderation easier.
Step 2: Modify: At this point, modify the information or restrict the harmful content on the platform and write the same to the creator. Here, the moderator should talk to the creator and understand why the same thing is happening for the second time.
Step 3: Suspend: If this becomes a pattern, you need to remove the users who are violating deliberately. The suspension should get communicated in written while highlighting the reasons and previous violations. It becomes crucial to document every step to back the claims with reliable information.
These steps must be listed on the community guidelines page for providing more clarity and maintaining the transparency of the system.
If the suspended user is not happy with the action, he/she must also be allowed to raise the issue to the management.
Embrace Constant Feedbacks
Every community should advise its members to take an active part in improving the platform, and that too with the help of constructive feedback. The information should flow both ways so that the moderators are also aware of the members’ requirements.
Generally, when the moderators take the content down due to violations of policies, creators come hard and ask tough questions. For a growing community, moderators must respond with empathy and provide solutions by suggesting modifications in the content. These suggestions will help the members make small changes and share previously rejected content.
It’s important to point out that moderators should have the human characteristics to resonate with the users’ thinking and ideas. Content moderators should be easily approachable or, you will end up with the community lacking trust and innovation.
Try automating the process using AI
Technology is our best friend, and we should not be hesitant to ask for help from friends. Automating the process with Artificial Intelligence will not eliminate human intervention but will minimize it for more productivity.
There are times when humans miss out on some details and let the inappropriate content pass through the community. Technology is also not perfect, there is a chance of AI missing out on the details due to unidentified loopholes in the algorithm.
According to Forbes, around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created each day, and manual processing of even the chunk of it is just impractical. To get the optimum results, use a combination of machines and humans for error-free and contextual content moderation in your online community.
Appoint Skilled Professionals
This goes without saying that you need immense experience along with the skills to moderate the community effectively. That creates many lucrative job opportunities in the growing industry of community moderators. Content delivery platforms are looking for experienced professionals, and this skill could be acquired by reading more and understanding the requirements.
Companies appoint experienced professionals who understand black and white, and most importantly, are capable of marking the grey area to keep the valid information going. Mostly, the grey content is a traffic generator and also the problem creator for the platforms. Allowing or restricting it without due diligence could turn out to be a big mistake in the longer run.
More than the risk of allowing objectionable content, there is a chance of over moderating. This will not only demotivate the members but will also decrease the unique content on the platform.
It’s the responsibility of a community to make the members feel safe in a constantly growing industry. To achieve this, a constant communication mechanism with online community moderation should be on priority for step by step resolutions. Communities should always come up with an environment that supports all-around development. The listed actions will help you gain the members’ trust while promoting constructive feedback, which is necessary to improve in the competitive environment.