Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

[Posted by Steven Noble]

Content moderation — deciding what user-generated content to publish and what to delete — is a serious business. Get it right, and your social application may well flourish. Make mistakes, and you'll alienate the very people you were hoping to engage. An important step along the way is crafting a clear and trustworthy content moderation policy. That's the topic of my first Forrester Research report.

However, there's much more to content moderation than simply creating and implementing your policy. If your social application is large or complex, expect to make significant investments in moderation software, in labour or services, and in managing the whole shebang. These back-end issues — from picking the right vendors to measuring outcomes — will be the subject of future Forrester research.

So, if you're deeply involved in content moderation — whether as a marketer or manager, a software vendor, or a provider of moderation services — now is the time to suggest a briefing. Likewise, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments field below.

Comments

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Speaking of content moderation, why did you guys delete Peter Kim's final post on the Forrester marketing blog? http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2008/07/thanks-to-you-i.html It simply disappeared. Why?

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Hi Max. It’s Christine Overby here, manager of the interactive marketing team and this blog. I’m the one that deleted Pete’s post, so it’s only fair for me to respond rather than Steven. Why did I delete? The simple truth is that Pete and I didn’t discuss his post before he left and we should have because the topic was unrelated to what he’d normally write about interactive marketing.So now, looking at it in the strong light of day, I ask myself: would I have done things differently? Yes. I realize – sheepishly, more than a little painfully – that once something is out on the Internet, it’s out there . . . period.We’re trying at Forrester to practice what we preach with social computing. Social media remains a work in progress – including our own. So, putting ourselves out there means that sometimes we get it right and sometimes – as in this case – we don’t.What have I learned? I got some good counsel from Steven on content moderation. He’s showed me the best and worst practices to help guide my actions moving forward. We’ll do our best to eliminate ambiguity in the future with our analysts and at the same time enable them to contribute to the blogosphere in a manner that provides provocative, conversational, and value-added thoughts and ideas.

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Christine,First, MANY thanks for your response -- somewhat delayed and finely crafted, but greatly appreciated. And I'm sure all your other readers agree. Importantly, I acknowledge the challenge you have in trying to adhere to the more controlled model of syndicated analyst research, while adapting to the more open-source nature of the Web and fluid digital identities and reputations. They are often at odds, to be sure. Still, in the spirit of “work in progress” and “practicing what you preach,” I hope you’ll accept some feedback...You noted: "We’ll do our best to eliminate ambiguity in the future with our analysts and at the same time enable them to contribute to the blogosphere in a manner that provides provocative, conversational, and value-added thoughts and ideas."As you refine your community and blog strategy going forward, please remember that a lot of the personal expression and passions from your employees often are MORE useful and engaging versus the stiff, conservative Forrester-report voice. As an outside stakeholder, understanding the people inside your organization — what makes them tick — is extremely important. Pete's post, which you deleted, was very much in that spirit, and valuable. Your recent post on your Sydney office move – seemingly off-message – also was valuable! Occasionally exposing the personal stories of the factory bodies creating the products helps flesh out the overall narrative of your business. It enables your business to take on a richer presence in others’ lives. It cultivates storytelling, and it is a proven fact that storytelling accentuates brand engagement.You know your customers and blog stakeholders a lot better than me, but there's a broader, growing trend: customers and business stakeholders want to relate more to the people behind the companies and services they do business with. Your blog makes strides in doing that, but my sense is that there’s still quite a bit of restraint and differing internal views on its vision.This would probably never fly by your management, but it would be pretty neat if Forrester were to be a little more transparent in its own challenges and successes in grasping online community — even show some humility. We all know Forrester doesn’t have it all figured out because, frankly, nobody does. We’re far too early in the game. But that’s what makes it all exciting.Again, thanks for engaging. I'm happy to elaborate on any points above, if it would be helpful. At the end of the day, I like Forrester and want it to win. There are some good people there, and they produce some good products.

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Hi again, Max. I truly appreciate the comments and constructive feedback. Your points on personal expression are well taken. I look forward to continuing the dialog, for that's truly the best part of these new connections!

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Hello StevenRecently while working on a social media project I did face some issues and posted then on my bloghttp://www.customerexperience.in/2008/07/29/what-is-restricted-content/Our specific concern with regard to content moderation was how to define restricted content. Restricted content could be defined in the following four waysConfidential InformationInappropriate ContentLicensed MultimediaCopyright material other than multimediaHaving defined this, we detailed each subsection. The challenge we broadly faced was in educating participants, identifying such content by essentially a volunteer team , not knowing which tools to use if any and finally protecting the platform within the legal framework of the country and other laws.Would like your views on this

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Hi Syamant, the categories of content that must be moderated will vary greatly from one business to another, and from one social application to another. Many examples of how these differences should play out are in the report. I can only assume that you identified the four categories that you listed above because they made sense in your particular context.As for implementation -- well, that's the subject of my next report. I'm still gathering data at this stage, but I expect the final draft will speak to the issues that you raise.

re: Content moderation: there's more than meets the eye

Content moderation is tricky; content moderation where you are incentivizing adding the content is even harder!At the RFP Database http://www.rfpdb.com we encourage users, in order to gain access to projects listed in the site, to upload projects that they have found elsewhere but aren't bidding on. We believe that one man's trash is another man's treasure... so we turn those unwanted projects into something valuable by giving users "credits" for uploading projects to the site that they can then redeem for access to other projects.While we don't automate the moderation of the content, we encourage users to notify us about bad projects and reward them with bonus credits for assisting us in the moderation.