Marketplace Custom solution

5 Moderation Methods You Should Understand

Mar 15 2016

Moderation. You know you need it, but when user generated content is your bread and butter, it might feel counter intuitive to spend time and money on restricting it.

This blog post will go through 5 types of moderation methods you have to know about in order to make the right decisions for your site. All to improve the user experience, keep your visitors safe and as an effect build a good reputation, retain customers and grow from word of mouth.

Different Content Moderation Methods

1. Manual Pre-Moderation

With Manual Pre-moderation, all user-submitted content is screened before it goes live on your site. Each piece of content is judged by a moderator who takes a decision on whether to publish, reject or edit it, all according to the site guidelines.

Pros and cons of manual pre-moderation:

+ You will have the highest possible control of your content, which is directly linked to the quality of your site and in the end the experience you provide to your users.

+ Sophisticated scams take a trained eye to identify while it can make very severe harm to your site with 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.

 Depending on the speed of your moderators, this method might slow down the process of content submission which can negatively impact the user experience especially on sites dealing with time-sensitive content.

 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 to have sophisticated processes in place 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 then be reviewed by a moderator after it’s been published. 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 with manual post-moderation:

+ Your users will feel instant gratification when their content is published right at the click on submit. In communities, for example, this is usually necessary to provide a decent user experience.

+ This can be a good option to handle less sensitive content concerns such as categorization, duplicates and other irrelevant content, especially if quick time to site is the overruling objective.

 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 content on your site. This can be done via report buttons on your site or through customer support tickets. This is a very powerful tool, but for most sites it should only be used as a supplement to one of the other moderation methods.

Pros and cons with reactive moderation:

+ This is a very cost-efficient method that filters out the content that’s upsetting enough for people to react on.

 You have no real control over the content on your site which means you might be showcasing stuff that is not at all in line with your brand image.

 If content is reported, at least one user has had a negative experience strong enough to make them take action.

 Your community will only moderate what is important to them. This means that things, which are beneficial to users, but impacts your revenue or poses legal threats will be left untouched.

 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.

Learn how to moderate without censoring

Why moderating content without censoring users demands consistent, transparent policies.


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 either give voting rights to all members or to certain VIP-users, which can be appointed by the community or site owner.

Pros and cons of distributed moderation:

+ This is a great way to control your content for 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.

 You have very limited control over what is being moderated and when it is carried out. If you can at all be held liable for the content on your site, you should only use this as a support for your main moderation method.

5. Automated Moderation

Automated moderation is becoming increasingly popular with more sophisticated filters and tools being developed. The most basic version is a filter which catches words from a list and acts on preset rules to either highlight, replace or ban the word or content piece. Filters requires to be setup by someone with great knowledge of moderation and industry trends. They need continuous review to ensure that the rules it builds on is up to date and accurate.

Machine learning can optimize this process even further, using an algorithm to learn from data and develop more sophisticated decisions over time. However, even machine-learning requires on-going monitoring and tuning so you have to keep your smartest moderators close at hand.

Pros and cons of automated moderation:

+ This is both faster and more cost-efficient than manual moderation. Time to site is instant which adds to the user experience, especially in communities and marketplace for time-sensitive goods like for example concert tickets.

 As mentioned above, automated moderation still needs human involvement and you have to make sure to keep your staff up to date on trends on your site as well as in the industry to optimize filters and rules.

How to Decide on the Right Content Moderation Strategy?

Your Budget, Goals, Audience and Type of Content are four things to consider when choosing your moderation strategy. Is your content time sensitive, impact on audience by disturbing content modest, and main goal fast growth? Or do you have high-end content, sensitive audience, and prime objective to establish a strong, high-quality brand?

The best result is likely to come from a tailor-made solution consisting of two or more of the 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 moderation.

This is Besedo

Global, full-service leader in content moderation

We provide automated and manual moderation for online marketplaces, online dating, sharing economy, gaming, communities and social media.

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