Online Community: Places for Approval Processes

Sean Bryant

When and if you decide to create an online community, you, or someone else you hire will want to moderate the content your users submit. Approval queues are an efficient way to maintain a healthy and pro active online community when working with content that is persistent. If you have content that you want to approve before it is viewable in the community, or if you want the ability to remove unwanted content later, please read on.

Online Community

Types of Content

Two types of content exist, transient and persistent. Both have a place depending on the type community involved. One accompanies real-time interaction, while the other is best suited for approval processes.

Transient Content

Lasting only for a short time; impermanent. Chat rooms, online games or any other application that uses transient real-time chat should not use approval processes. Preventing users to engage with others in real-time online environments will frustrate your community, decrease retention and will deter others from joining. It is best to use an intelligent chat filtering solution rather than approval queues in these environments.

Persistent Content

Persistent content sticks around for a while. For example, when you write a review on an Amazon product, share insight in a forum, tweet a relative article, post an image on your friends wall or post a blog for the rest of the world to see. It is persistent because the moment that it’s submitted and posted, it stays in one place. Approval queues are best when managing persistent content.

3 Places for Approvals

Each online community is different. They vary from age range, hobbies, professional expertise, business orientation, etc. There is an inherent responsibility that comes with each community and how members of that community share with one another. The type of community you wish to host can help define the approval process you feel best suites the online environment.

1. U13 (Under 13)

Children and Tweens love to share their ideas. There are plenty of sites out there created just for that reason. Sites that allow original cinematic works of art, drawings of kitties and puppies and the common expression of voice through text. On top of being COPPA compliant, you would never want a user posting sexual content, personal identifiable information, posting rude remarks to another user or any other content that does not coincide with a healthy and educational U13 community.

2. U18 (Under 18)

A little older and just a little more mature. Teen sites are great for engaging some of the most passionate and pro-active users on the planet. They are more wired in, engaged, and willing to interact on a digital level than ever. That does not negate the need for approvals. Just like U13, you don’t want inappropriate sexual behavior, revealing or disturbing images from other users and most importantly (more prone to this age) cyber bullying.

3. Adult (Professional or Brand Integrity)

HOA communities, motorcycle forums, your businesses blog is just another avenue in which others can share and express their professional expertise and opinions. Informing home owners of the opening pool date, sharing best maintenance practices, asking for reviews on a product are all very helpful and insightful. You would not want the disgruntled home owner posting vulgar obscenities all over the message board, or someone posting their product link to pull potential customers away from your company page. Anything you wish not to have associated with your site would want to be prevented, e.g., advertisers, racial bigotry, political rhetoric, etc.

3 Approval Processes

Approval processes vary depending on the community. Some need to be moderated on a regular basis, others allow the members to report problem users and some environments allow the users to become the moderators.

1. Pre Approve

All posts are pre-approved by a moderator before placing the content in to the group or community. This is the most stringent and safest way to make sure no inappropriate or revealing content is posted to the site without prior approval.

2. Post Approval (Post Hoc)

This allows for real-time posting. It allows the community to share on time and freely with one another. Members have the ability to flag or report another users content if necessary. This is best if full time moderation is not an option. The moderator can log in at any time, review flagged content and take necessary actions post hoc.

3. Reputation

Reputation scoring is when other community members can “Like” or “+” another users posts. The more likes their posts receive the more freedom the user has within the community. In some instances a high reputation will allow a user to become a “community moderator”. This role allows the member to become an editor (ability to edit other peoples posts), deleter (delete other users inappropriate or irrelevant content), and  sometimes silence another member. It is always a good idea to pre approve the first few posts of a new member before letting them run free within the community.


There are many things to consider when creating an online community. Places for approvals and processes are not limited to what you see here. How you wish to allow your community to engage and advocate is up to you. A healthy and safe online community is a productive community.


Further Reading:

7 Ways to be More COPPA Compliant

5 Online Safety Tips to Teach Your Child

Social Networks: A Parent's Responsibility