The Virtues of Moderation April 3, 2015 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Included in volume 17 of The Yale Journal of Law and Technology is the article The Virtues of Moderation.
This Article provides a novel taxonomy of moderation in online communities. It breaks down the basic verbs of moderation—exclusion, pricing, organizing, and norm-setting—and shows how they help communities walk the tightrope between the chaos of too much freedom and the sterility of too much control. Scholars studying the commons can learn from moderation, and so can policy-makers debating the regulation of online communities.
One of the case studies discussed is Metafilter.
posted by alms to MetaFilter-Related at 9:04 PM (24 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

MetaFilter: artisanal small-batch news
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:39 PM on April 3, 2015

They use

MetaFilter: for the most part an authentic conversation among engaged participants
MetaFilter: functioning as a visible symbol of community praise

this thing is a gold mine!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:39 PM on April 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Reddit: a toxic combination of tolerance and pseudonymity
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:47 PM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

You guys, we're a hard-won success!
posted by Quilford at 3:11 AM on April 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

I always thought so.
posted by Quilford at 3:11 AM on April 4, 2015

I think the abstract gets it wrong about Wikipedia. The LA Times "wiki article" about the Iraq war failed where Wikipedia didn't because the former lacked a community with a goal, an ideal, all enforced by shared norms. These are things Wikipedia developed. It's kind of laughable to compare the social dynamics of a one-off experiment in which no one had or really could have a stake to a big possibly-permanent project with a vision. Wikipedia's apparent success has nothing to do with moderation as I conceive of the term. It has to do with the balance of interest in building versus tearing down. /notabackdoorattackonmoderation
posted by sylvanshine at 3:51 AM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Humility is a key virtue." Advice for all of us.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:41 AM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

disemvoweling: my newest favorite word.
posted by mule98J at 8:39 AM on April 4, 2015

I'm looking forward to the future when we see "Get a Masters in Moderation" ad from profit universities.

I'm only half joking. I've been wondering for a long time if and how online moderating will become some kind of recognized Social Science with statistics, research, and multiple case studies to back up or take over what was formerly moderating through personalities / experience /culture / gut instinct / bias, to the point where one might even get a bachelor degree. (Future job interview: Yes, I have a degree in Online Community Management. My senior thesis was titled "Cunt in the Comments: Moderation Techniques for Background Sexism".) At the same time, it's one of those things where the way the web swings online communities might be dead by the time it emerges.

The whole thing is just fascinating.
posted by barchan at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2015 [19 favorites]

I'm interested in moderation systems that incentivize civility and avoid personality conflicts via moderator, which are more damaging to a forum that anything a single poster says or does (appreciating that any fair and rational person can moderate something, but which gets slowly corrupted when they become targets of lobbying by a persistent cabal of members). A simple moderation system would consider how many people were exposed to a post, compared with how many people flagged the post. A complicated moderation system would consider the flagging rate of each flagger, to create a bias against those who are just policing their interests; let them recruit readers instead. Moderators function best as forgivers that restore errors, some of which can best wait for their judgement.
posted by Brian B. at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Quite by accident, I became the moderator of two social communities at work. I had no experience doing it in any professional capacity, but watching the terrific moderation practices here have led me in the right direction. When I've trained my mostly-volunteer set of part-time moderators, I've used examples from Metafilter to show how even the tensest of arguments can be handled with grace and honesty.
posted by xingcat at 4:58 PM on April 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

"Humility is a key virtue." Advice for all of us.

Meh, I'm so awesome that nobody ever had to tell me that.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:12 PM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

I got "disemvowelled" once at BoingBoing, years ago. It was surprisingly enraging and humiliating. I went from being a commenter and submitter to ... not using the site at all, basically. I think I'd much rather have a comment deleted. (I'm sure this says more about me than it does about moderation policies, but whatever.)

Anyway, thanks for the link. Interesting.
posted by wintersweet at 10:58 PM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was kind of hoping for more examples of moderation successes and failures, with the Boing Boing fiasco being one of the failures.
posted by Justinian at 3:21 AM on April 5, 2015

From the article, re: favorites on MetaFilter:

"There is a small, un- obtrusive button on Metafilter to mark any post or comment as a “favorite”. The counts appear next to the post or comment and on the user’s profile page, functioning as a visible symbol of community praise." (emphasis mine)
posted by cooker girl at 6:23 AM on April 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

A correct description of the function of favorites. Here, have some praise!
posted by Drinky Die at 8:31 AM on April 5, 2015

MonkeyToes: ""Humility is a key virtue." Advice for all of us."

They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:28 PM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: this thing is a gold mine!
posted by Rumple at 4:58 PM on April 5, 2015

The key to successful moderation is sincerity. Once you can fake that, the rest is easy.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:52 PM on April 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: Everything in moderation.
posted by Kabanos at 8:40 PM on April 5, 2015

By Metafilter's own grimmelm.
posted by Jahaza at 7:19 AM on April 6, 2015

I read this whole article over the weekend. James is an incredibly good synthesizer of information, really understands online community, and is very good at speaking plainly about complex systems. I was really interested to read about what he felt the sort of essential building blocks of online communities were and looking at how those things played out around different communities especially since I am a member of a lot of them. Would have loved to see his take on the Stack Overflow model (scalable! baked in moderation!) but with this taxonomy you can sort of see what the parts are.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:43 AM on April 6, 2015

The phrase "cargo cult collaboration" (pg. 47) is wonderfully apt for what it is describing, and I am storing it away for future reference. Love this.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:08 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like the very opening of the abstract. Having had front-row seats to a few moderating debacles on other sites, I look forward to reading it and seeing if my hunches are accurate. Thanks!
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:48 PM on April 7, 2015

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