Online Moderators: Ten Simple Steps to Decrease Your Stress

As a community manager or content moderator, you experience the dark side of the internet every day. Whether you are reviewing chat, social media, forum comments, or images, high-risk content can be draining — and you may not even realize the damage it’s doing.

Studies show that community teams on the front lines of chat, image, or video moderation are especially vulnerable to stress-related symptoms including depression, insomnia, vicarious trauma (also known as “compassion fatigue”), and even PTSD. It’s critical that you have the right tools and techniques at your disposal to support your mental health.

Therapist and wellness trainer Carol Brusca recently hosted a “Stress, Wellness, and Resilience” training session for Two Hat’s clients and partners. Here are her top 10 wellness tips for online moderators and community managers

1. Talk to someone.
Having and using social supports is the number one indicator of resilience. Asking for help from someone who cares about you is a wonderful way to get through a difficult time.

Does your company health plan provide access to a mental health professional? Take advantage of it. There’s no shame in talking to a therapist. Sometimes, talking to a stranger can be even more effective than confiding in a loved one.

2. Learn to say no.
If we do not set boundaries with others we can find ourselves feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. If you notice this might be a habit for you, try saying “no” once a day and see if you begin to feel better.

Of course, saying “no” at work isn’t always an option. But if you’re spending too much time reviewing high-risk content, talk to your manager. Ask if you can vary your tasks; instead of spending all of your workday reviewing user reports, break up the day with 15-minute gameplay breaks. Check out our blog post and case study about different moderation techniques you can use to avoid chat moderation burnout.

3. Go easy on yourself.
We are quick to criticize ourselves and what we have done wrong, but not as likely to give ourselves credit for what went right, or all the things we did well.

Remember that you work hard to ensure that your online community is healthy, happy, and safe. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and treat yourself to some self-care.

4. Remember, this too will pass.
There are very few situations or events in our lives that are forever. Try repeating this mantra during a stressful time: this struggle will pass. It will make getting through that time a little easier.

(Maybe just repeat it silently in your head. Your co-workers will thank you.)

5. Get plenty of sleep.
We need sleep to replenish and rejuvenate. Often when we are feeling stressed, we struggle with sleeping well. If this happens to you, make sure your bedroom is dark and cool; try some gentle music to help you get to sleep, or use an app that plays soothing sounds on a loop. If staying asleep is the problem, try having a notepad and pen by your bed to write down your worries as they come up.

Pro tip: Save the marathon 3:00 am Fortnite sessions for the weekend.

6. Have a hobby.
Having a hobby is a great distraction from the stressors of everyday life. If you can do something outside, all the better. For many people being in nature automatically decreases stress.

Or, stick to video games. Playing Tetris has been proven to help people who experience trauma.

7. Drink tea.
A large dose of caffeine causes a short-term spike in blood pressure. It may also cause your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to go into overdrive. Instead of coffee or energy drinks, try green tea.

We know that the smell of a freshly-brewed pot of coffee is like catnip to most moderators… but hear us out. Green tea has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system.

8. Laugh it off.
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. It literally tricks your nervous system into making you happy. Try a comedy movie marathon or a laughter yoga class (this is a real thing!).

And hey, a 10-minute meme break never hurt anyone.

9. Exercise.
Getting plenty of exercise will decrease stress hormones and increase endorphins, leaving you feeling more energized and happier.

Ever had a 30-second, impromptu dance party at your desk?

No, really!

Often referred to as the “stress hormone,” cortisol is released in our body when we’re under pressure. Excess cortisol can cause you to feel stress, anxiety, and tension. Exercise brings your cortisol levels back down to normal, allowing you to relax and think straight again.

So crank up a classic, stand up… and get down.

10. Try the “3 Good things” exercise.
Each night, write down three good things that happened during the day. This practice makes you shift your perspective to more positive things in your life — which in turn can shift your mood from stressed to happy…

… even if the three good things are tacos for lunch, tacos for 2 pm snack, and tacos for 4 pm snack. Good things don’t have to be earth-shattering. Gratitude comes in all sizes.

So, whether you’re sipping a mug of green tea, talking to a professional, or shaking your groove thing in the name of science and wellness, never forget that a little self-care can go a long way.

At Two Hat, we empower gaming and social platforms to build healthy and engaged online communities with our content filter and automated moderation software Community Sift — and that can’t be done without healthy and engaged community teams.

The ROI of COPPA Compliance

Join us on Thursday, May 10th for an exclusive webinar The ROI of COPPA. You’ll learn about the positive benefits of the children’s online privacy regulation, including increasing user retention, fostering engagement, and boosting profits.

If you can’t make it live, sign up anyway and we’ll send you a recording.

We’ve partnered with our friends at PRIVO, the industry experts in children’s online privacy and delegated consent management, to shed light on the business benefits of building connected products for under-13 users.

As we explained in our Four Step Beginner’s Guide to COPPA, obvious reasons to get compliant include avoiding FTC fines, bad press, and loss of user trust. But what else should you know about the regulation? And can COPPA actually be good for business?

This webinar is ideal for anyone who wants to better understand COPPA restrictions, requirements, and ultimately how compliance drives engagement, retention, and revenue.

Building an education app? Participating in the Designed for Families program for Google Play? Unsure if it’s even worth designing an online product for young children and families? You don’t want to miss this.

Save your spot today!

Thursday, May 10th | 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST | 1:00 PM EST – 2:00 PM EST

“Community Design is Video Game Design”: Insights from the Fair Play Alliance Summit at GDC 2018

If the lineup outside the first Fair Play Alliance (FPA) panel at GDC this March was any indication, the gaming industry is poised to make some major changes this year.

Following the rousing and packed keynote speech delivered by Riot Games’ Senior Technical Designer Kimberly Voll (a founding member of the Alliance), the “Player Behavior by Game Design” panel centered around the mechanics that drive player behavior.

Featuring devs and designers from industry heavyweights Epic Games, Supercell, Kabam, Blizzard, and Two Hat Security, the first FPA panel of the day addressed the ways gaming companies can engineer their products to empower healthy communication among users.

The room was full to capacity.

Not only that, members of the FPA counted anywhere between 100-200 additional people lined up outside the door, waiting to get in.

Throughout the day, the Fair Play Alliance Summit featured more panels and talks, including “Root Causes of Player Behavior,” a Developer Q&A, “Microtalks in Player Behavior,” and the closing talk “The Advocates Journey: Changing Culture by Changing Yourself, ” presented by Georgrify’s Kate Edwards.

Two Hat Director of Community Trust & Safety Carlos Figueiredo is one of the founding members of the FPA and moderated “Player Behavior By Game Design.” He also attended the Community Management Summit on Tuesday, March 20th. Several panels — most notably “Mitigating Abuse Before it Happens” — closely mirrored the conversations in the FPA room the next day.

Carlos shared his three key insights from the day:

1. “Community design is game design.”
The concept of community design as video game design was truly the biggest insight of GDC. Player behavior — the good, bad, and the ugly — doesn’t come out of nowhere. How a game is designed and engineered has a significant effect on player behavior and community interactions.

So, how can game designers engineer a product that encourages healthy interactions?

A few examples from panels throughout the day:

  • Engineering a healthy player experience from the very first moment they enter the game
  • Ensuring that players are fairly and equally paired in matchmaking
  • Sharing rewards equally among teammates
  • Turning off friendly fire (read about Epic Games’ decision to remove friendly fire from Fornite)
  • Providing feedback to players who submit a report
  • Building intuitive and proactive systems to protect players

How one designs and engineers the game mechanics and sets the stages for player interactions are a crucial foundation in terms of player behavior. What sort of gaming communities are we trying to create, what is this game about and what are we encouraging with the systems we are creating? It’s much better to consider this from the ground up, instead of treating it like an afterthought.  – Carlos Figueiredo, Director of Community Trust & Safety for Two Hat Security

2. Disruptive behavior > toxicity.
Traditionally, the word “toxicity” has been used by the industry to describe a wide range of negative behaviors. Over the years its meaning has become diluted and unclear. Instead, the Fair Play Alliance suggest using the term “disruptive behavior” — literally, any kind of behavior that disrupts the experience of another player.

Human behavior is complex. The way we act changes based on many circumstances. We have bad days. The word “toxicity” is fairly ambiguous and can lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions. Disruptive behavior speaks to the heart of the matter: an action that disrupts the very purpose of a game. – Carlos Figueiredo, Director of Community Trust & Safety for Two Hat Security

3. Focus on fostering & reinforcing healthy interactions.
When we discuss online behavior, the conversation almost always turns to negative behavior, instead of celebrating and encouraging the positive, healthy interactions that actually make up most of our online experiences. The Fair Play Alliance is keen on making games fun, and its members are passionate about supporting positive play — as opposed to just preventing negative interactions.

So the question is no longer, “How do we prevent disruptive behavior?” Instead, it’s time we ask, “How do we encourage players to engage in healthy, spirited competition?”

Games are fun. We want to encourage that enjoyment and focus on creating awesome experiences. – Carlos Figueiredo, Director of Community Trust & Safety for Two Hat Security

Engineering, game design, terminology, and a shift in focus — the gaming industry has a lot of work ahead of it if it wants to understand and discourage disruptive behavior. But the folks in the FPA are confident that the industry is ready to talk — and listen in return.

Life Lessons With League of Legends

High school League of Legends clubs are having a profound impact on students across Australia and New Zealand.

Led by student Kate Li and supervised by teacher Jessica Moses, Kristin School’s League of Legends club has nearly 40 registered members, with about half of those joining regularly.

The club has proven to be hugely successful, providing a place for students to not only improve their League of Legends skills but to learn valuable lessons about sportsmanship and critical thinking.

“Every single session we start off with a question,” explains Kate. “Today’s question was, ‘How can psychology be applied to esports?’ Previous questions have been ‘How do gender and orientation affect someone playing esports?’ or ‘How does someone’s general well-being enhance performance?’”

“Before each session starts we have a slide that reiterates the consequences and what happens if you decide to cyberbully or enact any sort of inappropriate behaviour.”

Participants go on to write 150 words or more about each question, which takes about 30 minutes of club time. As Kate says, “Through this, members are really engaging with different parts of esports. It’s not just a place to come and play League; [students] actually have to think about how sportsmanship, how one’s personality and well-being, can influence and be affected by [playing the game].”

Students (not from Kristin School) discuss sportsmanship before a match.

They even take time after a match to discuss their performance and behavior. “We offer fifteen minutes at the end for reflection, where members reflect on how they played that day and refer back to the questions at the start – which is really important because part of our school curriculum is about reflection,” Kate explains. “It’s a good life skill and it helps people improve.”

Tackling cyberbullying with compassion
The club takes online harassment seriously. Club members sign a code of conduct when they join. Kate explains how the club further enforces anti-bullying policies. “Before each session starts we have a slide that reiterates the consequences and what happens if you decide to cyberbully or enact any sort of inappropriate behaviour.”

The six aspects of sportsmanship, as taught by the club, include concepts like showing respect for teammates and opponents, taking responsibility for your own choices, and maintaining a positive attitudeall critical skills that can be used to combat and prevent online harassment.

Aspects of sportsmanship from the high school League of Legends clubs website.

Practicing these skills has given Kate and her teammates a better understanding of why players indulge in bullying behavior. “Most of the time the person doing the bullying isn’t aware that their actions are being perceived this way, so we talk to them about it and they change their behaviour,” she says. “But there are other instances where someone is just trying to have an argument, or just deliberately being mean to someone, and so we try and solve this situation professionally. We don’t try and anger them anymore, we use comforting words like, ‘Can you reflect on this?’ or ‘Is this correct?’”

The compassionate approach seems to be working. “We haven’t really had a major incident yet,” Kate says, “and hopefully we never do!”

The power of mentorship
Crucially, the Kristin School club has also given students the opportunity to flex their leadership and mentoring skills in a comfortable environment.

“We offer League of Legends tutoring on an individual basis,” Kate says. “We had one student who, at the start, was not that good at League but then I have a few friends who are Challenger rank and so I got them involved to start tutoring for free. They watch one of their games, and then we have a call to ensure everything is on topic and go from there. I’ve seen that person grow so much, and they’ve improved so much, and they’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge about the game. It’s quite rewarding to see that person grow through League.”

“It’s not just about playing games, it’s about doing activities that will contribute to our whole lives.”

Kate and other club members also provide academic tutoring. “For our high school League team – because we entered the New Zealand competition – we offer tutoring sessions three times a week to ensure their academics are on track while they’re playing games.”

Peer-to-peer learning in action
This active involvement in school activities – known as peer-to-peer learning – is a clever technique that will have lasting consequences for students involved in the clubs. Instead of relying on teachers to drive lessons, students are empowered to guide each other and learn together – a valuable life skill that can be difficult to teach.

None of this would be possible without Kate, who is shaping up to be a powerhouse organizer. As teacher and club supervisor Jessica Moses says, “Kate actually does a large amount of the work. I’ve got zero background in gaming but I teach Kate and [co-clubrunner David] in other subjects and they asked me to support them… All the extra things that Kate has gone on to do – the tutoring, the forms they have to fill out – is so well organised that I’ve been incredibly impressed.”

Kate has even ensured that the clubs directly serve the curriculum at Kristin School. “We do IB [International Baccalaureate] at our school,” she explains, “and part of that is CAS, which stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service. Basically, we try to do two things from each category that builds on our well-being in general, so two creative things, two things that involve activity and two things that involve service and then further from that we also have a CAS project that has to involve two of the disciplines. For our club, we’ve focused on creativity and service. The creative part comes from teaching and getting the mental cognitive thing working, and our service is to provide this platform, giving up our time to ensure people can get a better experience. It’s all part of the curriculum.”

“I’ve also learned how to persuade people, especially with the school, I had to persuade the school to let us have this club. Planning-wise, organisation skills are my forte, and I got to exercise [them].”

When she and her partner David originally pitched the idea to the school, they created a CAS project planning form, which included not only the logistics of the club but lengthy questions about the ultimate purpose and benefit of starting a high school League of Legends club. After that, they approached the IT department to ensure they understood that, as Kate puts it, “It’s not just about playing games, it’s about doing activities that will contribute to our whole lives.”

Life lessons
The lessons that Kate has learned running the club are guaranteed to follow her through the rest of her life. When asked what she’s gotten out of the clubs, she reflects on the varied skills she’s gained.

“Talking and interacting with different people outside of Kristin – like companies that we’ve sought sponsorship from or organisations such as HSL for the high school tournament – is quite important and I’ve learned a lot from talking to them and how to interact with people,” Kate says.

“I’ve also learned how to persuade people, especially with the school, I had to persuade the school to let us have this club. Planning-wise, organisation skills are my forte, and I got to exercise these – I love making forms, I love filling out forms – being able to type stuff out and make documents has been quite enjoyable.”

Want to learn more about high school League of Legends clubs?
Two Hat has partnered with League of Legends to promote sportsmanship and create teaching resources for teachers, parents, and students. Read our partnership announcement here, and don’t forget to download the teaching resource.