Here’s to the moderators
I was interested to read a Reddit moderator’s account
of what it takes to keep the most popular subreddits on topic and of value to their users.
I moderate a Facebook group for startups in my city, and maintaining it is a relentless task.
These struggles are normal once an online community gets above a certain size. In the case of the group I moderate, there’s always someone wanting to post spam, or stretch the definition of ‘startup’ to mean 'hair salon,’ or start an argument because they’re bored, or try to rip off the people in the group with questionable services.
It’s a difficult balance to keep a community on track. Moderators aren’t just police who apply the rules, they’re curators who have to shape a community by making decisions that may be unpopular with some members.
And they have to keep in mind that the community should help direct the group, too. That post about SEO that isn’t directly related to startups – it should technically be deleted according to the rules, but it’s already had 40 comments, so would following the rules really best serve the community in this case?
Moderating online communities is a delicate balancing act that helps keep the internet valuable for its users. And it’s important to remember that the people who do it are almost always volunteers.
As the article mentioned above says:
“I think about the cliché “You couldn’t pay me to do that.” For 20 or so hours a week, the line feels apt. You couldn’t pay me to mod reddit.com. Imagine that job: 9 to 5 every day behind a screen, weeding out trolls, totally anonymous yet more vulnerable by the hour for every new racist or sexist you ban. No, I insist on doing it for free.”
So, next time you’re enjoying your favourite subreddit, Facebook group or LinkedIn group, spare a thought for the moderators who do more than you might think to keep it such a useful space.