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Last updated June 14th, 2018

For media companies, comment sections offer users a place to participate and engage with your journalists and each other. However, comment sections can easily turn toxic without moderation tools in place to rein in spam and abuse. When creating your own community guidelines, we recommend following these tried and true best practices for building a safe, productive community:

1

Keep users safe

With the proliferation of social media, some of the basic fundamentals of not providing personal information have been lost. Include in your community guidelines an emphasis on staying safe online, and a reminder to your users not to post personal information about themselves or others. You can also eliminate posts that include this information on their behalf.
2

Stay on the right side of the law

Your guidelines should make it clear that comments including content that appears legally objectionable or encourages/condones a criminal offence, or any form of violence or harassment, will not be tolerated. Not only does this provide a safer community for your users, but also shows that your organization is proactive in eliminating illegal content.
3

Proactively whitelist and blacklist websites

Once your community has been commenting for a while, it’s easier to recognize sites that you know to be safe or spam. Opt to save time in your moderation by whitelisting the safe sites and blacklisting the spam.
4

Enforce community guidelines with user bans

Community guideline violations are enforceable through user bans. A user’s first infraction should result in a short ban, with each following infraction resulting in a longer ban time. For example, a first ban for serial flagging might be one hour, the next ban for personal attacks could be one day, and the following ban for repetitive posting could be three days. Make sure the messaging accompanying the ban explains the violation, with a link to your guidelines for more information and a concrete amount of time before the user’s account reactivates. This ensures nothing gets lost in translation, sets expectations and provides additional resources for the banned user.
5

Delete repetitive posts

When someone posts the same comment over and over again in your community, it’s likely spam. Automatically identify word-for-word posts, hide them from view, then choose whether or not you would like to ban the user for a preset amount of time.
6

Think of all the ways users can abuse the comment section

Users can abuse each other and the platform by more than just calling each other names within the comments themselves. One example of this is when one user flags another user’s content as a violation when it is clearly not. If “serial flagging” is a violation on your site, you may choose to ban users when more than 50% of the content they flag does not violate community guidelines.
7

Make clear what content is unacceptable

Sometimes we have a concept of what is or isn’t allowed in comment content, but creating a clear, unassailable description in your community guidelines can help prevent initial violations and give your moderators a reference to point to that clearly defines unacceptable content. Examples of content to explicitly define as unacceptable include personal attacks, vulgar or obscene content, libelous or defamatory statements, and anything that can be described as threatening, abusive, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable.
8

Make it clear you reserve the right to review and moderate all comment content

Ultimately, you are in control of your online community. Remind users in your community guidelines that you reserve the right to remove or edit comments and permanently block any user in violation of your terms and conditions. This umbrella statement gives you complete control over the content your community produces, guaranteeing discourse will remain positive and productive.

Click here for more information on Viafoura Content Moderation, which provides you with all the tools you need to ensure civil conversations in even the largest online communities.

Interested in learning more about content moderation?

Contact us today to learn how Viafoura Automated Moderation is empowering media companies to manage their communities in real-time.

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