When user-generated content is your bread and butter, spending time and money restricting it with content moderation might feel counterintuitive.
This blog post will go through 5 moderation methods you need to know to make the right decisions for your website and business. We have added a bunch of pros and cons to all of these methods.
Your content moderation decisions will help improve the user experience, keep your visitors safe, build a good reputation, retain customers – and grow from word of mouth.
1. Manual Pre-Moderation
Manual Pre-moderation screens all user-submitted content before it goes live on your site. Each piece of content is judged by a moderator who decides whether to publish, reject or edit it, all according to the site guidelines.
Pros and cons of Manual Pre-moderation
Pro: You will have the highest possible control of your content, directly linked to the quality of your site and, in the end, the experience you provide to your users.
Pro: Sophisticated scams take a trained eye to identify, and they can cause very severe harm to your site with a bad reputation and loss of users. This can be hard to automate, and if you are operating in very sensitive spaces, like, for example, the dating industry, you will want to do manual pre-moderation for at least parts of your content.
Con: Depending on the speed of your moderators, this method might slow down the content submission process, which can negatively impact the user experience, especially on sites dealing with time-sensitive content.
Con: It is a costly procedure, and it takes time to train your teams and build up the experience needed to spot, e.g., complex scams. You need sophisticated processes for continuous improvement, learning, and training of new staff.
2. Manual Post-Moderation
Manual Post-moderation allows content to go live on your site instantly to be reviewed by a moderator after publication. The moderator will, in the same way as with manual pre-moderation, review each ad and make a call on whether to keep it on the site, remove it or make edits.
Pros and cons of Manual Post-Moderation
Pro: Your users will feel instant gratification when their content is published right at the click of the submit button. In communities, for example, this is usually necessary to provide a decent user experience.
Pro: This can be a good option to handle less sensitive content concerns such as categorization, duplicates, and other irrelevant content, especially if the time to site is the overruling objective.
Con: There is no guarantee that your moderators will see potentially damaging content before a user does. If your site is directed to children, this can put you in a lot of trouble. The general risk is offended visitors, low retention, and bad publicity.
3. Reactive Moderation
Reactive moderation relies on your users flagging or reporting the content on your site. This can be done via your site report buttons or customer support tickets. This is a very powerful tool, but for most websites, it should only be used as a supplement to one of the other moderation methods.
Pros and cons of Reactive Moderation
Pro: This is a very cost-efficient method that filters out the content that’s upsetting enough for people to react.
Con: You have no real control over the content on your site, which means you might be showcasing stuff that is not in line with your brand image.
Con: If the content is reported, at least one user has had a negative experience strong enough to make them take action.
Con: Your community will only moderate what is important to them. This means that things that benefit users but impact your revenue or pose legal threats will be left untouched.
Con: Community Moderation is one of the slower moderation methods. Since the content has to go live first and then be found by your community, unwanted content could potentially be live for days before a person with enough drive to report comes across it.
4. Distributed Moderation
Distributed moderation is the democratic cousin of reactive moderation. Here you leave the moderation efforts almost entirely to your community. This moderation method relies on rating and voting systems where highly voted content ends up on top of the page, and lowly voted content is hidden or removed. You can give voting rights to all members or certain VIP users appointed by the community or site owner.
Pros and cons of distributed moderation
Pro: This is a great way to control your content, e.g., communities where the users are very invested in your site. You also need a good correlation between your and your community’s perception of high-quality content.
Con: You have limited control over what is being moderated and when it is carried out. If you can be held liable for the content on your site, you should only use this as support for your main moderation method.
5. Automated Moderation
Automated content moderation is becoming increasingly popular with more sophisticated filters and tools being developed. The most basic version is a filter that catches words from a list and acts on preset rules to either highlight, replace or ban the word or content piece. Someone with great knowledge of moderation and industry trends must set up filters. They need continuous review to ensure the rules it builds on are up-to-date and accurate.
Machine learning can optimize this process, using an algorithm to learn from data and develop more sophisticated decisions over time. However, even machine learning requires ongoing monitoring and tuning, so you must keep your smartest moderators close.
Pros and cons of automated moderation
Pro: This is both faster and more cost-efficient than manual moderation. Time to the site is instant which adds to the user experience, especially in communities and marketplaces for time-sensitive goods like, for example, concert tickets.
Con: As mentioned above, automated moderation still needs human involvement, and you have to keep your staff updated on trends on your site and in the industry to optimize filters and rules.
How to decide on the right content moderation strategy?
There are many things to factor in when you pick your content moderation strategy, but four things you should consider are:
- Type of content
Is your content time-sensitive, impact on the audience by disturbing content modest, and the main goal of fast growth? Or do you have high-end content, a sensitive audience, and a prime objective to establish a strong, high-quality brand?
The best result will likely come from a tailor-made solution using two or more methods described above.
You know your site best, but if you want an expert opinion Besedo is happy to act as a consultant to help uncover the strongest setup for your specific needs.
Want to continue improving your moderation skills? Learn how to prioritize your content moderation.
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