News Post

Introducing the Community Moderation system

Jake the Admin

July 6, 2023

There’s now a new moderation system in place! Let me explain how it works:

When you submit a new activity now, it will be visible only to you (you can find it by going to “Your activities” on the Dashboard) and a new group of users called Community Moderators.

A Community Moderator is a user who has volunteered to help with moderation. They can visit a page on the site that lists newly submitted activities. When they look at an activity, they don’t see the user who submitted it, but they see its regular contents like the description and file attachments. They then choose whether:

  • The activity follows the rules of the site and is okay to post.
  • They would like the user to revise the activity in some way.
  • The activity should just be deleted. Maybe it’s spam or it just doesn’t seem salvageable.

The moderator can write out the reason for their decision and the user can see it when they look at their activity.

When the moderators have reached a consensus, the activity will either be approved or deleted. A consensus is determined by how many moderators are currently active at any time – if there’s an even number, it’s half of them (so 2 moderators out of 4 will need to make the same decision) and if it’s an odd number, it’s a majority (so 3 out of 5 will be a consensus).

Community Moderators are appointed for a limited period of time – my initial goal is for it to be for terms of something like 2 or 3 months. To prevent them from catching any grief, they’ll be anonymous – their feedback for an activity will be under a 4-digit code number like “234B” which will be present for their term as moderator, but then retired after that. Also, Community Moderators can’t see the feedback or decisions of other moderators.

I know this is a little convoluted, but my goal with this system was to make a moderation system that involved a group of people doing their best to render an objective decision on new activities. Also, the limited time nature of each moderator’s tenure will hopefully avoid cliques developing and bring in a wide variety of perspectives to the moderation decisions.

I’ve appointed an initial group of moderators from some users who have contacted me recently and volunteered to be involved in moderation. In the next month or two, I’m going to make a form that you can submit on the site to request to be a Community Moderator, so ideally I'll be able to draw from interested users to have a rotating group of moderators at any given time. It will be possible for users to be moderators multiple times, but I’m hoping that there will be a healthy mix of new users as well.

I should mention that this only applies to activities at the moment. I’m planning on using this system for comments as well, but they function different technically (and you can’t edit them) so it will take some more time to code that in.

There’s still a lot of this system that I have to refine, but it’s in a state where I wanted to get it up on the site and see how well it works. Even if all the things that happened in the last few months didn’t happen, it’s a system that I wanted to implement to help free up some of the time that I’ve been spending on site moderation. I really want to harness the power of a lot of people working together for the goal of making the best resource possible. I have a few more things that I want to try in that vein, and I think this is a good step in that direction.

I anticipate that most activities will probably continue to be approved in this system, but I hope it will also provide people with useful feedback on their activities. At some point soon I’ll add functionality so that even after an activity is approved, the uploader can see the Community Moderator feedback for it.

Please let me know what you think, or if there are any issues you encounter!

  1. Jake the Admin July 20, 2023

    One challenge with running older activities through the new moderation process is that in many cases, the original uploader might not actively use the site anymore. If moderators request the uploader to make changes to an activity, the uploader may never know about the moderators' feedback in the first place. I could do something like send emails, but I would have to make that an opt-in setting since I really don't like it when web services bug you with emails that you never asked for in the first place.

    One idea I've had is for community moderated activities show up higher in search rankings, and giving users the chance to re-submit their activities for community moderation. I'd like to see how the system works for a few months before trying that, though.

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