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.

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Online Bullies: Parenting in Real-Time

Brian Pontarelli

A few weeks ago, my 8-year old son came to me and said, “Dad, can you help me with something?” I said, “Absolutely.” He led me over to the family computer, and he explained to me that while he was playing Roblox, this “other guy” was being really uncool. I asked him to tell me what the player was doing, and he said, “Let me show you.”

For the next 20 minutes, the two of us watched as this player proceeded to ruin the game for everyone else. My son explained that in this level, there was a special item that afforded players a lot of power. Because this “other guy” player had this special item, he had the ability to fly, create anything, or destroy anything. He was using this power to ruin the experience of other players, including my son.


 
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7 Ways to be More COPPA Compliant

Brian Pontarelli

Gavel on keyboard representing the COPPA law

In light of the recent COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) violations and some hefty fines being doled out by the FTC (see our resources at the end of this post for links to the violations), we put together a list of 7 ways to be more COPPA compliant.

1. Collect as Little Information as Possible

The simplest way to be more COPPA compliant is not to collect personally identifiable information (PII) from your users. If you are collecting this type of information, ask yourself why. If the answer to that question isn't vital to your business, stop collecting the information. It’s easy to fall into the trap of collecting information for no other reason than having it.

One place you might have overlooked where you could be collecting PII is blog comments. Some blog software requires users to give their name and email addresses to post a comment. If you want to allow users to comment on blogs, make sure they can do so without sharing their information.

Another place to look is online features. If you require that users register in order to provide online features like saved games, settings and preferences, ask yourself if a simple username and password is sufficient. If you don't need additional information from the user, don't collect it.

2. Ask for the Age First

If users must register for your website, game, or community, you must determine their age first. Asking "are you under 13" with a yes or no answer isn't sufficient. You must ask for the user’s age in such a manner that they are more inclined to answer truthfully.

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Prevent Users from Sharing PII & Account Information

Marshall Bauernfeind

Preventing users from sharing account information is a security concern as well as a way to prevent paid accounts from being shared. When hosting a virtual environment targeted to kids, you are also required to take reasonable measures to prevent users from sharing PII (Personal Identifiable Information) in accordance with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The types of personal information include, but are not limited to, phone number, email address, and home address which cannot be shared in chat rooms, forum posts, and the like. Implementing all of the following prevention techniques will dramatically reduce your risk from users sharing account credentials and PII.

Prevent Users from Sharing PII & Account Information

Educate Your Users

Will your users read your terms of service and privacy policy from start to finish? What if they are children? Probably not. Periodically remind users the importance of keeping private information private. First, display a notification each time users log in reminding them to never share their name, address, etc. Also, create quick and fun activities for your users to engage in informing them what not to share in the form of videos, short games, or other activities.

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