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Moderation is the control of discussion forums. It's commonly used on the Internet by all kinds of groups in order to either keep discussion focussed around a certain topic, or, even in free-ranging discussions, to remove undesirable behaviour (trolling, flaming etc). Many feminist and feminist-friendly geek spaces use it to remove evidence of the avalanche of online harrassment directed towards them and their members. But moderation is certainly not restricted to such communities.

Techniques for moderation Edit

  • Removing undesirable content. This is not possible on some older style online fora (email lists, Usenet) or real-time fora (chats), but is often used on blogs and web forums. Replies might also be removed.
    • Outright deletion. The content is removed entirely, and usually cannot be retrieved. 
    • Removing from public view. The content is no longer viewable by the public, but moderators can still view it and may be able to make it visible again. 
  • Making undesirable content hard to read. A common technique is Teresa Nielsen Hayden's "disemvowelling", in which all the vowels are removed from a blog comment (eg "all the vowels are removed" becomes "ll th vwls r rmvd")
  • Voting down undesirable content. 
  • Freezing an undesirable discussion. The discussion remains viewable, but no new replies are accepted. 
  • Pre-moderating for undesirable content. 
    • Global. All content requires the approval of a moderator before it is visible. This can be time-consuming. 
    • By poster. New contributors' content requires the approval of a moderator. Individuals can be cleared to post without approval, but this status can be revoked at any time. 
    • Banning. The banned user will not be able to submit comments. This may be temporary or permanent. Some social media platforms consider "ban evasion" (making a second account for the purpose of evading a ban on the first account) a significant violation of platform rules, and will disable the accounts of offenders. 
    • Hellbanning. Moderating someone's comments while making it appear to them that they are unmoderated; that is, it will appear to them as though other participants can see but are ignoring their posts, whereas in fact other participants are not seeing them.
    • Content Blocklists. Content meeting certain pre-defined criteria is not allowed through (blocked outright or held for approval) but other items might be allowed through. Sometimes used against spammers with known bad links, or with words or phrases which don't belong in that forum. 
    • Source Blocklists. Contributors meeting certain pre-defined criteria (IP ranges, lists of usernames) are not allowed through (blocked outright or held for approval). 

Tips for moderation Edit

"1. There can be no ongoing discourse without some degree of moderation, if only to kill off the hardcore trolls. It takes rather more moderation than that to create a complex, nuanced, civil discourse. If you want that to happen, you have to give of yourself. Providing the space but not tending the conversation is like expecting that your front yard will automatically turn itself into a garden...
"9. If you judge that a post is offensive, upsetting, or just plain unpleasant, it’s important to get rid of it, or at least make it hard to read. Do it as quickly as possible. There’s no more useless advice than to tell people to just ignore such things. We can’t. We automatically read what falls under our eyes.
"10. Another important rule: You can let one jeering, unpleasant jerk hang around for a while, but the minute you get two or more of them egging each other on, they both have to go, and all their recent messages with them. There are others like them prowling the net, looking for just that kind of situation. More of them will turn up, and they’ll encourage each other to behave more and more outrageously. Kill them quickly and have no regrets."
"What the blog world needs is not a universal 'Code of Conduct'; what it needs is for people to remind themselves that deleting comments from obnoxious dickheads is a good thing. It's simple: if someone's an obnoxious dickhead, then pop! goes their comment. You don't even have to explain why, although it is always fun to do so. The commenter will either learn to abide by your rules, or they will go away. Either way, your problem is solved. You don't need community policing or a code of conduct to make it happen. You just do it."

See also Edit

  • Dreamwidth IRC culture guidelines - a good example of participation guidelines for an online space that take into account constructive interaction as well as safety.

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