Moderation: Let's talk it over
We're in the process of reviewing our help pages and notification emails for moderation, and I'd like to ask you for some help.
It's fair to say that we get a lot of complaints about the moderation of the various social media services on the BBC. Even Jonathan Ross can't unite the users of BBC Online in communal rage in quite the same way as moderation can.
Sadly, a large proportion of these complaints are inevitable. On a reactively moderated service - where most material is only looked at by the moderators as the result of a complaint by another user - it's a fact of moderation life that half of the people involved in each decision will be unhappy. If someone complains about another user's comment, then the complainant will be annoyed if the moderator rejects the complaint and leaves the comment up. If they uphold the complaint and remove the comment, the person who posted it feels hard done by.
So we expect some flak from both sides.
That's not to say that moderators don't make mistakes, and improvements can't be made. The trick for us is to communicate our decisions and policy more effectively while avoiding costly one-to-one discussions over individual posts. This is why we're looking at the notification emails and the help pages, so if you don't understand why your content was removed you can find further explanation without needing to write to us. We'll keep adding clarifications to these pages as we answer your queries.
Some things aren't going to change. In particular, we get a lot of requests for the moderators to write individual notifications when they fail something, pointing out exactly where the post broke the rules rather than the standard emails that are generated by the moderation process. We simply can't do this, at least not without several million pounds that we're not going to get (sorry Sutara). If you only use a few of the hundreds of BBC sites that the moderators work across, it's hard to imagine the impact of any extra time added to the moderation process, but even a small amount of time costs a lot of money. What we can do is rewrite the failure emails to make them clearer, and add more thorough explanation of the reasons why content is removed to the help pages on the site. We're trialling the first of some proposed changes here on the Internet blog from today, so if any of you are unfortunate enough to have a post removed, please leave a comment here to let me know whether you were any the wiser as to why.
We think the BBC goes much further than our peers in explaining moderation decisions and allowing right of reply when content is removed, as well it should. However, if you think there are other big companies that are doing a better job than us, do please give me examples so
I can nick these ideas we can strive to improve in this area.
For a few hours this afternoon on the I'll be on a Points of View BBC topic thread, answering queries as best I can about the way we moderate the boards. Anything useful that comes out of it can be added to our help pages, and if it works well we might make it a regular thread. So please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on POV if you want your say about moderation on the BBC.
Paul Wakely is Content Producer, BBC Online