skip to main content

Title: After Violation But Before Sanction: Understanding Volunteer Moderators' Profiling Processes Toward Violators in Live Streaming Communities
Content moderation is an essential part of online community health and governance. While much of extant research is centered on what happens to the content, moderation also involves the management of violators. This study focuses on how moderators (mods) make decisions about their actions after the violation takes place but before the sanction by examining how they "profile" the violators. Through observations and interviews with volunteer mods on Twitch, we found that mods engage in a complex process of collaborative evidence collection and profile violators into different categories to decide the type and extent of punishment. Mods consider violators' characteristics as well as behavioral history and violation context before taking moderation action. The main purpose of the profiling was to avoid excessive punishment and aim to integrate violators more into the community. We discuss the contributions of profiling to moderation practice and suggest design mechanisms to facilitate mods' profiling processes.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1 to 25
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Volunteer moderators (mods) play significant roles in developing moderation standards and dealing with harmful content in their micro-communities. However, little work explores how volunteer mods work as a team. In line with prior work about understanding volunteer moderation, we interview 40 volunteer mods on Twitch — a leading live streaming platform. We identify how mods collaborate on tasks (off-streaming coordination and preparation, in-stream real-time collaboration, and relationship building both off-stream and in-stream to reinforce collaboration) and how mods contribute to moderation standards (collaboratively working on the community rulebook and individually shaping community norms). We uncover how volunteer mods work as an effective team. We also discuss how the affordances of multi-modal communication and informality of volunteer moderation contribute to task collaboration, standards development, and mod’s roles and responsibilities.
  2. To manage user-generated harmful video content, YouTube relies on AI algorithms (e.g., machine learning) in content moderation and follows a retributive justice logic to punish convicted YouTubers through demonetization, a penalty that limits or deprives them of advertisements (ads), reducing their future ad income. Moderation research is burgeoning in CSCW, but relatively little attention has been paid to the socioeconomic implications of YouTube's algorithmic moderation. Drawing from the lens of algorithmic labor, we describe how algorithmic moderation shapes YouTubers' labor conditions through algorithmic opacity and precarity. YouTubers coped with such challenges from algorithmic moderation by sharing and applying practical knowledge they learned about moderation algorithms. By analyzing video content creation as algorithmic labor, we unpack the socioeconomic implications of algorithmic moderation and point to necessary post-punishment support as a form of restorative justice. Lastly, we put forward design considerations for algorithmic moderation systems.
  3. Due to challenges around low-quality comments and misinformation, many news outlets have opted to turn off commenting features on their websites. The New York Times (NYT), on the other hand, has continued to scale up its online discussion resources to reach large audiences. Through interviews with the NYT moderation team, we present examples of how moderators manage the first ~24 hours of online discussion after a story breaks, while balancing concerns about journalistic credibility. We discuss how managing comments at the NYT is not merely a matter of content regulation, but can involve reporting from the "community beat" to recognize emerging topics and synthesize the multiple perspectives in a discussion to promote community. We discuss how other news organizations---including those lacking moderation resources---might appropriate the strategies and decisions offered by the NYT. Future research should investigate strategies to share and update the information generated about topics in the news through the course of content moderation.
  4. This Article develops a framework for both assessing and designing content moderation systems consistent with public values. It argues that moderation should not be understood as a single function, but as a set of subfunctions common to all content governance regimes. By identifying the particular values implicated by each of these subfunctions, it explores the appropriate ways the constituent tasks might best be allocated-specifically to which actors (public or private, human or technological) they might be assigned, and what constraints or processes might be required in their performance. This analysis can facilitate the evaluation and design of content moderation systems to ensure the capacity and competencies necessary for legitimate, distributed systems of content governance. Through a combination of methods, legal schemes delegate at least a portion of the responsibility for governing online expression to private actors. Sometimes, statutory schemes assign regulatory tasks explicitly. In others, this delegation often occurs implicitly, with little guidance as to how the treatment of content should be structured. In the law's shadow, online platforms are largely given free rein to configure the governance of expression. Legal scholarship has surfaced important concerns about the private sector's role in content governance. In response, private platforms engaged inmore »content moderation have adopted structures that mimic public governance forms. Yet, we largely lack the means to measure whether these forms are substantive, effectively infusing public values into the content moderation process, or merely symbolic artifice designed to deflect much needed public scrutiny. This Article's proposed framework addresses that gap in two ways. First, the framework considers together all manner of legal regimes that induce platforms to engage in the function of content moderation. Second, it focuses on the shared set of specific tasks, or subfunctions, involved in the content moderation function across these regimes. Examining a broad range of content moderation regimes together highlights the existence of distinct common tasks and decision points that together constitute the content moderation function. Focusing on this shared set of subfunctions highlights the different values implicated by each and the way they can be "handed off' to human and technical actors to perform in different ways with varying normative and political implications. This Article identifies four key content moderation subfunctions: (1) definition of policies, (2) identification of potentially covered content, (3) application of policies to specific cases, and (4) resolution of those cases. Using these four subfunctions supports a rigorous analysis of how to leverage the capacities and competencies of government and private parties throughout the content moderation process. Such attention also highlights how the exercise of that power can be constrained-either by requiring the use of particular decision-making processes or through limits on the use of automation-in ways that further address normative concerns. Dissecting the allocation of subfunctions in various content moderation regimes reveals the distinct ethical and political questions that arise in alternate configurations. Specifically, it offers a way to think about four key questions: (1) what values are most at issue regarding each subfunction; (2) which activities might be more appropriate to delegate to particular public or private actors; (3) which constraints must be attached to the delegation of each subfunction; and (4) where can investments in shared content moderation infrastructures support relevant values? The functional framework thus provides a means for both evaluating the symbolic legal forms that firms have constructed in service of content moderation and for designing processes that better reflect public values.« less
  5. HCI has long considered sites of workplace collaboration. From airline cockpits to distributed groupware systems, scholars emphasize the importance of supporting a multitude of tasks and creating technologies that integrate into collaborative work settings. More recent scholarship highlights a growing need to consider the concerns of workers within and beyond established workplace settings or roles of employment, from steelworkers whose jobs have been eliminated with post-industrial shifts in the economy to contractors performing the content moderation that shapes our social media experiences. This one-day workshop seeks to bring together a growing community of HCI scholars concerned with the labor upon which the future of work we envision relies. We will discuss existing methods for studying work that we find both productive and problematic, with the aim of understanding how we might better bridge current gaps in research, policy, and practice. Such conversations will focus on the challenges associated with taking a worker-centered approach and outline concrete methods and strategies for conducting research on labor in changing industrial, political, and environmental contexts.