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PM Moderation Clinic

Paul Wakely Paul Wakely | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

Hello. I'm the producer of the BBC Central Communities Team, which means I oversee the day-to-day moderation across most of the BBC's social media services such as message boards, community sites like h2g2 or comments on blogs like PM.

If you don't know what moderation is, then you're one of the lucky ones who've never had a message removed, or had another user complain about your post, or spent any time in premoderation. In short, moderation is the process of checking the messages that the BBC publishes on its social media sites. As publisher of your contributions, the BBC can be held liable for the things you write (as can you) so we apply different levels of moderation.

A lot of you will know this, and will probably want to get on with telling me your particular moderation bugbears. However, it still might be helpful to look at my last post about moderation on the Internet blog explaining some of the issues we face and previous posts about some of the legal constraints we work under.

Eighty-eight got the first question in. And the answer's a pretty simple one - the mod didn't spot it was spam, and I'll point that out to them. There's nothing too dodgy about the link, but it breaks the rules about advertising or promoting a site so shouldn't have been passed.

Having admitted the moderation error, I might as well get the excuses in early. Firstly, you may not realise is that the mods don't look at posts in context of the thread. They only view the posts that are placed in the queue in a bespoke interface, and they don't see who's posted it. If need be they can refer it to a supervisor or to our team who can investigate further, but in most cases the mods check the post against a set of guidelines and make the decision there and then.

And even looking at this selection of posts they are still working their way through a queue of over 10,000 each day. So mistakes do happen. Even if they are being 99% accurate, that would still be more than 100 errors every day, and when we review the mod decisions we don't overturn more than a handful a day.

But we still get a lot of complaints about moderation. Which means communication is breaking down somewhere. Which is why I'm going round asking for the views of our users so we can identify the most important areas to improve.

The moderation clinic post on the internet blog and the POV thread went reasonably well - we found a bug, worked out that we need to explain reactive moderation more clearly so we don't get as many complaints about inconsistency and discussed the whole 'viewing out of context' thing.

But we know that some PM folk are highly critical of the moderation on this blog, so fire away, and I'll try to answer what I can between 2 and 4pm today. I can't answer questions on technical stuff such as changes to the software or new blog features, nor commissioning decisions, but if you have a query, gripe, or want to shower the moderators with praise (!) then please post below.


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