Our Blog

The official Motribe blog, written by the founders

July 25

This week we are happy to announce that site owners have a new mechanism to help assist with content moderation, called the Neighborhood Watch.

True to it’s name, this new feature helps Motribe users who are actively managing their communities to select and empower members of the community to help with moderation. This decentralization of community management becomes crucial as the size of the community increases and the activity levels increase.

The Motribe team has been running this system on some of the community sites we own and we think it has made a big difference already in terms of weeding out the inevitable bad apples that come with community-building. As an example, we have a site that has just over 30 000 members who are spread across the US and Europe, so we appointed 10 moderators spread evenly between the timezones. Now there is a shift-like pattern and there is always at least one moderator. The occurrence of fights in the chatrooms has diminished by close to 90% and the illicit photo uploads have also stopped.

Moderation styles, mechanisms and logic are a big topic, the kind that several books can be dedicated to. In our tests we decided not to pay members for this service because it is a type of honor and our users responded well to this reasoning. We started by asking for volunteers and in most cases more people wanted to participate than we had space for.

This is how it works in practice: the site owner selects members based on their own criteria. It may be the length someone has been on the site for, or that the user has been good at reporting abuse, or that the site owner has developed a trust relationship with the user over time. The owner then adds the user as a volunteer moderator using the Motribe dashboard and from that point on the users will have the Neighborhood Watch special power listed on their profiles. They will also be able to remove blog posts and photos from the site as well as suspend users for bad behavior.  Each moderation action requires a justification, which varies depending on the media type and each action is logged and reviewed by the Motribe community team.  A second phase is coming up soon that will give the review process to the site owner and this is obviously better from a conflict resolution perspective.

One of the main reasons why distributing community moderation tasks has become such a high priority for our team is because the majority of our public spaces are plazas and not warrens.  Read Venkatesh Rao’s description of warrens and plazas for more detail but the short version is this: warrens are spaces where you only see a limited part of the whole (like Facebook) and plazas are big open areas where everyone can see everything (like MySpace).  Right now Nic and I are both firm believers that mobile communities need more plazas than warrens up front but this comes with a certain added responsibility to moderate the public spaces.  Ideally you would have new users enter into a bustling public space where they can get a sense of the style and nuance of this new space, make eye-contact, start a conversation and then step out of the crowds into a private space to have a quiet conversation.

If you would have any specific questions about community moderation or our experiences feel free to post a comment and we’ll provide some candid answers as always.