There’s one fact that all successful forum owners will immediately agree upon: Forums require moderation. The success of a forum relies on the quality of content contributed by the community. User retention suffers when inappropriate or irrelevant content is posted. Plus, this type of content creates poor search engine results which hinders new user acquisition. Moderation is essential to ensure the long term health and growth of forums.
A Sense of Community
The other day, an experienced community moderator who follows developments in her field told me she was seeing significant growth of interest from all kinds of businesses not just in protecting their brand online but also in protecting their customers online. They see safety as part of brand protection, of course, but more and more, community safety is becoming a concern in its own right.
She made me think of the city metaphor. Sure, if a neighborhood isn't safe, well-lit and pleasant to be in, people won't hang around, but there's more to it than that. The appeal of the neighborhood isn't just the city's responsibility. City services play a major role, of course, but so do the residents, businesses and visitors. We really are talking about "community" in the strictest sense – lots of participants and roles, each playing an essential part in the overall feeling of the place. No matter how pretty a physical or digital space is, it doesn't appeal if it's not safe, and it isn't any one thing, such as the police, that makes it safe or anything else.
(If you're wondering what she and I mean by "safety," it's a whole lot of things, but – online – mostly safety from hate speech, social cruelty and other behaviors that threaten people's emotional or psychological wellbeing.)
Understanding the inner workings of an online community is important for various reasons. When it comes to identifying where the potential community exists (industry, hobbies, events, recreation), it can be easier to identify who the user is and how as a whole the community can develop based around it's parameters. It's very interesting to think about the term "ecosystem" and how reflective it is to an online community.
Scientifically an ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water, mineral soil... internet?), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. As ecosystems are defined by the network of interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their environment, they can be of any size but usually encompass specific, limited spaces ...
Filtering forum posts is unique from filtering real-time chat and other user-generated content since forums are focused on specific topics. Implementing a profanity filter not only keeps the content free of profanities, hate speech, and the like; it can also help ensure that conversations stay on topic. This post covers how to best utilize a profanity filter to aid your moderation processes, limit user frustration, and keep content productive and appropriate within forums.
With new media and interactive game on Net Smart Teens, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Sprint are challenging tweens (8-12 year olds) to think about the choices they’re making online. The new content added to the free Internet-safety site tackles issues like cyberbullying and online enticement. Its goal is to empower kids to be safer and smarter online.
"Recent studies have found that most children are using the Internet every day by age 8. As they get older the amount of time spent online will only increase," said John Ryan, CEO of NCMEC. "We have to help our kids understand, from a young age, that what they are doing online can have a lasting impact on their lives. Threats from potential predators are real, but kids also have to consider how they will react to cyberbullying and what they are leaving online for people like college admission officers and employers to see. With Sprint's help, we’re asking kids to think, not just about their safety, but about the kind of people they want to be online."