Volunteer Work: Mapping the Future of Moderation Research

Are you interested in studying governance and content moderation in online communities? Do you participate in online communities that are managed by volunteer moderators, such as a subreddit, Facebook group, or Twitch channel? Does supporting volunteer moderators through research and design interventions interest you? Are you a moderator or community manager? Join us in this one-day workshop bringing together researchers, industry experts, and community moderators to help set an agenda for the future of community moderation research on November 10th, 2019 at this year's ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in Austin, Texas!

CSCW 2019 in Austin, TX

Volunteer moderators play a vital role in maintaining millions of communities on the internet. These moderators keep their communities operating by managing disputes between community members, moderating inappropriate content, and making decisions that shape the development of their communities. Despite their importance in contributing to the success and safety of online communities, only a handful of studies have examined volunteer community moderator practices, the rules that they make, the resources they draw on to moderate, or the challenges they encounter from social and technological change. More research on volunteer community moderators is needed to understand and support them and their communities, but this growing field must be guided by a set of ethical principles and strategies to inform research practices while minimizing disruptions to community moderator work and their communities.

In this workshop, we aim to give new and established researchers a strong foundation for studying community moderation. We will gather a community of researchers, practicing moderators and industry experts to set the agenda for the future in this field of research. With this community and agenda, we will establish a set of guiding principles to carry out this work. We will establish principles from our shared understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and best practices in engagement in future work with communities and moderators.

This one-day workshop will begin with lightning talks and small group exercises, and it will conclude with full-group discussions of future research proposals based on principles established earlier in the workshop. Development of a more nuanced collective understanding of the challenges moderators face will help researchers both identify new questions to ask and engage with moderators respectfully in the pursuit of answers.

Link to our ACM Extended Abstract PDF file.