As an online Community Manager, you’re responsible for a seemingly endless list of tasks and projects. From managing a team of moderators to reporting on community engagement metrics, your responsibilities never end.
You don’t have time to seek out the latest trends in community management – you’re too busy compiling your weekly “time to resolution for tickets” report!
We want community managers and moderators to thrive in their jobs – after all, protecting users from abusive content and fostering healthy communities is our passion. We’re always looking for the best way to share tips and tricks, best practices, and walkthroughs.
To save you time – and keep you up to date on the latest news in the business – we’ve created Community Manager Academy, our version of school (minus exams, grades, and deadlines, so you know… fun school).
Our Community Manager resource center consists of on-demand webinars and downloadable content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. You’ll find UGC moderation best practices, community health checklists, COPPA compliance guides, and more.
Take a minute to check out the page, and let us know what you think. What do you like? What do you not like? What topics would you like us to cover in the future? It’s your page — we would love to hear from you!
We all know how quickly news travels online. But what about new slang? Just like news stories, words and phrases can go viral in the blink of an eye (or the post of a Tweet, if you will).
No one is more aware of the ever-evolving language of social media than online community managers. Moderators and community managers who review user-generated chat, comments, and usernames every day have to stay in the loop when it comes to new online slang.
Here are eight new words that our language and culture experts identified this month:
To know with 100% certainty. “This coffee is hundo p giving me life.”
A combination of “true” and “real”. “To keep it trill, I need a break from reviewing usernames. I can’t look at another variation of #1ShawnMendesFan.”
One True Pairing; the perfect couple you ship in fanfiction. “Link and Zelda are always and forever the otp. Don’t @ me.”
Distracted in a way that motivates/inspires. “I was so distractivated today looking at Twitter for new slang, I mentally rearranged my entire apartment.”
Joy of Missing Out; the opposite of FOMO. “I missed the catered lunch and Fornite battle yesterday but it’s okay because I was JOMOing in the park.”
Not gonna lie; mustache. “I’m ngl, that new moderator who just started today has a serious Magnum PI tache going on.”
Suspect. “These cat pics are pretty sus, no way does it have anime-size eyes.”
What’s an effective community management strategy to ensure that new phrases are added regularly? We recommend using a content moderation tool that automatically identifies trending terms and can be updated in real time.
There are five different approaches to User-Generated Content (UGC) moderation:
Pre-moderate all content
Post-moderate all content
Crowdsourced (user reports)
100% human review
Each option has its merits and its drawbacks. But as with most things, the best method lies somewhere in between — a mixture of all five techniques.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of your different options.
Pre-moderate all content
Pro: You can be fairly certain that nothing inappropriate will end up in your community; you know you have human eyes on all content.
Con: Time and resource-consuming; subject to human error; does not happen in real time, and can be frustrating for users who expect to see their posts immediately.
Post-moderate all content
Pro: Users can post and experience content in real-time.
Con: Once risky content is posted, the damage is done; puts the burden on the community as it usually involves a lot of crowdsourcing and user reports.
Pro: Gives your community a sense of ownership; people are good at finding subtle language.
Con: Similar to pre-moderating all content, once threatening content is posted, it’s already had its desired effect, regardless of whether it’s removed; forces the community to police itself.
Pro: Computers are great at identifying the worst and best content; automation frees up your moderation team to engage with the community.
Con: Computers aren’t great at identifying gray areas and making tough decisions.
100% human review
Pro: Humans are good at making tough decisions about nuanced topics; moderators become highly attuned to community sentiment.
Con: Humans burn out easily; not a scalable solution; reviewing disturbing content can have an adverse effect on moderator’s health and wellness.
So, if all five options have valid pros and cons, what’s the solution? In our experience, the most effective technique uses a blend of both pre- and post-moderation, human review, and user reports, in tandem with some level of automation.
The first step is to nail down your community guidelines. Social products that don’t clearly define their standards from the very beginning have a hard time enforcing them as they scale up. Twitter is a cautionary tale for all of us, as we witness their current struggles with moderation. They launched the platform without the tools to enforce their (admittedly fuzzy) guidelines, and the company is facing a very public backlash because of it.
Consider your stance on the following:
Bullying: How do you define bullying? What behavior constitutes bullying in your community?
Profanity: Do you block all swear words or only the worst obscenities? Do you allow acronyms like WTF?
Hate speech: How do you define hate speech? Do you allow racial epithets if they’re used in a historical context? Do you allow discussions about religion or politics?
Suicide/Self-harm: Do you filter language related to suicide or self-harm, or do you allow it? Is their a difference between a user saying “I want to kill myself,” “You should kill yourself,” and “Please don’t kill yourself”?
PII (Personally Identifiable Information): Do you encourage users to use their real names, or does your community prefer anonymity? Can users share email addresses, phone numbers, and links to their profiles on other social networks? If your community is under-13 and in the US, you may be subject to COPPA.
Different factors will determine your guidelines, but the most important things to consider are:
The nature of your product. Is it a battle game? A forum to share family recipes? A messaging app?
Your target demographic. Are users over or under 13? Are portions of the experience age-gated? Is it marketed towards adults-only?
Once you’ve decided on community guidelines, you can start to build your moderation workflow. First, you’ll need to find the right software. There are plenty of content filters and moderation tools on the market, but in our experience, Community Sift is the best.
A high-risk content detection system designed specifically for social products, Community Sift works alongside moderation teams to automatically identify threatening UGC in real time. It’s built to detect and block the worst of the worst (as defined by your community guidelines), so your users and moderators don’t ever have to see it. There’s no need to force your moderation team to review disturbing content that a computer algorithm can be trained to recognize in a fraction of a second. Community Sift also allows you to move content into queues for human review, and automate actions (like player bans) based on triggers.
Once you’ve tuned the system to meet your community’s unique needs, you can create your workflows.
You may want to pre-moderate some content, even with a content filter running in the background. If your product is targeted at under-13 users, as an added layer of human protection, you might pre-moderate anything that the filter doesn’t classify as high-risk. Or maybe you route all content flagged as high-risk (extreme bullying, hate speech, rape threats, etc) into queues for moderators to review. For older communities, you may not require any pre-moderation and instead depend on user reports for any post-moderation work.
With an automated content detection system in place, you give your moderators their time back to do the tough, human stuff, like dealing with calls for help and reviewing user reports.
Another piece of the moderation puzzle is addressing negative user behavior. We recommend using automation, with the severity increasing with each offense. Techniques include warning users when they’ve posted high-risk content, and muting or banning their accounts for a short period. Users who persist can eventually lose their accounts. Again, the process and severity here will vary based on your product and demographic. The key is to have a consistent, well-thought-out process from the very beginning.
You will also want to ensure that you have a straightforward and accessible process for users to report offensive behavior. Don’t bury the report option, and make sure that you provide a variety of report tags to select from, like bullying, hate speech, sharing PII, etc. This will make it much easier for your moderation team to prioritize which reports they review first.
Ok, so moderation is a lot of work. It requires patience and dedication and a strong passion for community-building. But it doesn’t have to be hard if you leverage the right tools and the right techniques. And it’s highly rewarding, in the end. After all, what’s better than shaping a positive, healthy, creative, and engaged community in your social product? It’s the ultimate goal, and ultimately, it’s an attainable one — when you do it right.
It’s not hard to understand why more and more media companies are inclined to turn off comments. If you’ve spent any time reading the comments section on many websites, you’re bound to run into hate speech, vitriol, and abuse. It can be overwhelming and highly unpleasant. But the thing is, even though it feels like they’re everywhere, hate speech, vitriol, and abuse are only present in a tiny percentage of comments. Do the math, and you find that thoughtful, reasonable comments are the norm. Unfortunately, toxic voices almost always drown out healthy voices.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The path of least resistance is tempting. It’s easy to turn off comments — it’s a quick fix, and it always works. But there is a hidden cost. When companies remove comments, they send a powerful message to their best users: Your voice doesn’t matter. After all, users who post comments are engaged, they’re interested, and they’re active. If they feel compelled to leave a comment, they will probably also feel compelled to return, read more articles, and leave more comments. Shouldn’t media companies cater to those users, instead of the minority?
Traditionally, most companies approach comment moderation in one of two ways, both of which are ineffective and inefficient:
Pre-moderation. Costly and time-consuming, pre-moderating everything requires a large team of moderators. As companies scale up, it can become impossible to review every comment before it’s posted.
Crowdsourcing. A band-aid solution that doesn’t address the bigger problem. When companies depend on users to report the worst content, they force their best users to become de facto moderators. Engaged and enthusiastic users shouldn’t have to see hate speech and harassment. They should be protected from it.
My company Two Hat Security has been training and tuning AI since 2012 using multiple unique data sets, including comments sections, online games, and social networks. In our experience, proactive moderation uses a blend of AI-powered automation, human review, real-time user feedback, and crowdsourcing.
It’s a balancing act that combines what computers do best (finding harmful content and taking action on users in real-time) and what humans do best (reviewing and reporting complex content). Skim the dangerous content — things like hate speech, harassment, and rape threats — off the top using a finely-tuned filter that identifies and removes it in real-time. That way no one has to see the worst comments. You can even customize the system to warn users when they’re about to post dangerous content. Then, your (much smaller and more efficient) team of moderators can review reported comments, and even monitor comments as they’re posted for anything objectionable that slips through the cracks.
Comments section don’t have to be the darkest places on the internet. Media companies have a choice — they can continue to let the angriest, loudest, and most hateful voices drown out the majority, or they can give their best users a platform for discussion and debate.
There are a few key steps you can take to build a community that encourages high-quality comments:
Know your community. What kind of articles will you be publishing? Will you cover controversial topics that are likely to elicit passionate responses? What demographic are you targeting? Once you know who will be posting (and what topics they will be posting about), you can start to…
Think long and hard about community guidelines. If you know your community, you can create guidelines to protect. Be clear about your policies. If you allow profanity but not bullying, define bullying for your audience. If you allow racial slurs within the context of a historical article but not when they’re directed at another user, make sure it’s explained in your policy guide.
Build a comprehensive moderation strategy. Visit the comments section of most websites, and you’re bound to walk away with a skewed — and highly unpleasant — view of humanity. Toxic voices will always drown out healthy voices. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re using a blend of smart computer automation and human review to moderate comments, you can build a process that works for your unique community.
Engage with your best users. Who doesn’t appreciate a good shout-out? Encouraging high-quality content can go a long way towards fostering a healthy community. Give your moderators the time to upvote, call out, or comment on quality posts. If you’ve done the first three steps, your moderators will have time to do what people do best, and what computers will likely never do—interact with users and engage them emotionally.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Your community will grow and change over time, so you may have to adjust your policies as your audience changes. You will probably make mistakes and have to course-correct your moderation strategy. But if you start with a solid baseline, you will serve your audience well.