Some thoughts on “Moderation”:
There are many varied and valid reasons to moderate. Moderation can polish a community’s image, give it purpose or create a nurturing environment that fosters discussion, constructive criticism and relationships between users.
Moderating a community gives it focus. What you remove from your community places emphasis on what you leave behind. Moderation is a tool in the community manager’s arsenal that works both behind the scenes and center stage.
For example, your policy on profanity and vulgar speech alters the suitable age range of your product or forum. A community build around a more “adult” topic or product won’t necessarily benefit from the removal of swear words. You could alienate and frustrate your users by censoring them, similarly, if your product or service attracts a broader age range or if the community is likely to include children, a stricter policy will benefit you, both by protecting children and instilling confidence in the adult members.
You can de-politicize a community, create an online “safe space” or foster an all-inclusive, “anything goes” space. The focus will be provided by your style and amount of moderation. When you moderate, you are helping to define that vision and emphasize what kind of content is allowed.
A properly moderated community reflects the desires and needs of the community, but stays within the guidelines set by the company. A good, focused community can absolutely develop with no moderation but isn’t sustainable without it
Photo by Celeste Hutchins