Web 2.0 has made the internet more interactive and with it has come a lot of user generated content (UGC). Websites today are used not only to interact with the webmaster and its audience but they are also used as a platform for the audience to interact among themselves. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be quoted as the popular examples of sites with user generated content. But if you thought social media platforms are the only place where you find UGC, then think again. Talk about blogs, wikis, video uploading sites, photo sharing sites, forums, question answer sites, review sites… and you’ll realize UGC is everywhere.
If you are running a site with UGC, you already know how difficult it is to moderate it and keep it clean of spam, trolling, profanity and other unwelcome content. Also it does not require any elaboration on the risks and hazards they bring to your website in terms of reputation, ranking and in some cases, the very existence of the model your site runs on. In this article, we will talk about some simple and practical tips to moderate user generated content.
It’s basically a simple challenge given to the user before he/she is able to post something on the site. Depending upon the type of captcha you are using, the challenge can be in terms of text, maths, image, etc. The main purpose of captcha is to verify human users and to keep robots away. Automated spamming is reduced to a great extent through this but the deliberate spam and troll by real humans still goes unchecked.
2. Profanity Filter
What do you do to keep the usage of obscene, abusive, swear words in check on your site? Well, this is where profanity filter comes in. It’s a piece of software that will help you automate the process of scanning users’ content and censoring it for certain words and phrases before it goes live. Today, profanity filters are available in most of the languages, and most of them also provide the convenience of customizing the list of words/phrases to be filtered.
3. Human Moderators
Appointing human moderators is the best way to keep your sites/forums neat and clean. Moderation can be done either prior to, or after publishing. In pre-publishing moderation, content will require prior approval of the moderators before being published. On the other hand, in post publishing moderation, moderators go through the published content and remove the objectionable content they come across. It’s the most basic and conventional way of moderation. If subjectivity and prejudice can be kept out, it can give very good results. Yet the method may not be efficient in terms of time and cost involved.
4. Whitelist/Blacklist of Users
If users are required to login to your site, you can use this method effectively. It’s very simple to use. Users who have gained good reputation over time can be added to the whitelist so that the content they post does not require prior approval. This will substantially reduce the moderation queue. On the other hand those who are found to violate the rules often can be added to the blacklist so that they can be warned and banned for a particular period of time. This too will lighten the load on moderation queue. The process can be easily automated. All it requires is to determine and quantify the parameters that constitute a good/bad user.
5. System for Reporting Violators
In addition to moderators actively looking out for violations, a system can be built wherein users can report any violations that they come across. This can be a great aid in video moderation too. For example, if any video is found to contain objectionable content, the person who watches it should be able to report it (usually by clicking on the ‘report’ button); and if a given video is reported for a particular number of times or by a particular number of users, then that video is automatically taken offline.
Using automation tools for moderation surely helps to reduce the workload. But without human superintendence, they may be open to misuse. So, depending upon the volume and seriousness of the content, multiple methods can be combined to get good results.