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Group Moderation

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sidebar essay here using this material from Shara Karasic

Of course you need to figure out who the influencers are in your online community who will help it grow, and provide them with tools to spread their influence. But, don’t just cultivate the big fish. Look for up-and-comers who create great content or are especially passionate. Help them attain visibility as if they are already superstars. Listen to their feedback. Give them attention and advice and opportunities. At least some of them will actually become superstars, and they’ll be grateful, and naturally draw more passionate members into your community’s orbit.

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Don’t forget about the lurkers, who may be 99% of your audience. You can reflect their presence in numerous ways, such as displaying reader views on a blog post or highlighting recently browsed or most popular items. Create a game plan for gently easing lurkers into participation. Use tactics such as a simple “recommend” link at the end of an article. Make it super easy to participate. Consider integrating with existing social applications – if lurkers see that their friends are active on your site, they are much more likely to participate.

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If you want more good content from your community, highlight the highest-quality content and bury the low-quality content. You will get more of what you highlight. When building your community interface, don’t assume that all user content you get will be great, so design with a content burial system in addition to a content highlighting system.

The goal of community moderation is to foster rich conversations, connections, relationships, and activities. Reward the kinds of participation you wish to see more of and gently discourage the behaviors you believe are counterproductive.

When dealing with Flamewars and Sock-Puppets, Don’t Feed the Troll. Whenever possible, de-escalate. Give problem users “time outs” (suspensions from posting privileges) and when necessary freeze entire threads or topics to let emotions cool.

For incorrigible characters, consider banning them (but there’s always the risk they will simply re-register with a new account), or put them in a Hall of Mirrors, in which only they (and perhaps other spammers and trolls) can see their posts. They will wonder why no one is falling for their tricks anymore.

Official (paid, employed, staff) moderators can only do so much. They will need to find allies in the community itself. Promote from within. Create labels and identify the most helpful community members. Grant moderation privileges to trusted users, and harness the feedback of all users to promote the best contributions and bury the worst.