When All You Have is a Banhammer: The Social and Communicative Work of Volunteer Moderators

The popular understanding of moderation online is that moderation is inherently reactive, where moderators see and then react to content generated by users, typically by removing it; in order to understand the work already being performed by moderators, we need to expand our understanding of what that work entails. Drawing upon interviews, participant observation, and my own experiences as a volunteer community moderator on Reddit, I propose that a significant portion of work performed by volunteer moderators is social and communicative in nature. Even the chosen case studies of large-scale esports events on Twitch, where the most visible and intense tasks given to volunteer moderators consists of reacting and removing user-generated chat messages, exposes faults in the reactive model of moderation. A better appreciation of the full scope of moderation work will be vital in guiding future research, design, and development efforts in this field.

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Claudia Lo

About Claudia Lo

Claudia Lo is interested in issues of online social interaction, in particular online community moderation. Her thesis, When All You Have is a Banhammer: The Social and Communicative Work of Volunteer Moderators, examines the less-widely known aspects of volunteer moderation work and workers, using large-scale esports events on Twitch as a case study. She is currently working as a Design Researcher at the Wikimedia Foundation on anti-harassment tools.

 
 

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