The Civic Labor of Volunteer Moderators Online

  title={The Civic Labor of Volunteer Moderators Online},
  author={Jorge Nathan Matias},
  journal={Social Media + Society},
  • J. N. Matias
  • Published 1 April 2019
  • Sociology
  • Social Media + Society
Volunteer moderators create, support, and control public discourse for millions of people online, even as moderators’ uncompensated labor upholds platform funding models. What is the meaning of this work and who is it for? In this article, I examine the meanings of volunteer moderation on the social news platform reddit. Scholarship on volunteer moderation has viewed this work separately as digital labor for platforms, civic participation in communities, or oligarchy among other moderators. In… 

Figures from this paper

Volunteer Work: Mapping the Future of Moderation Research

This workshop will create a pathway for future scholars to tackle the challenges and opportunities of research on volunteer community moderators and establish best practices for engaging with volunteer moderators without disrupting their work.

Governing for Free: Rule Process Effects on Reddit Moderator Motivations

Developing a strong community requires empowered leadership capable of overcoming governance challenges. New online platforms have given users opportunities to practice governance through content

Metaphors in moderation

Volunteer content moderators are essential to the social media ecosystem through the roles they play in managing and supporting online social spaces. Recent work has described moderation primarily as

Boundary Control as Gatekeeping in Facebook Groups

Facebook groups host user-created communities on Facebook’s global platform, and their administrative structure consists of members, volunteer moderators, and governance mechanisms developed by the

The owners of information: Content curation practices of middle-level gatekeepers in political Facebook groups

  • S. Malinen
  • Political Science
    New Media & Society
  • 2021
Volunteer moderators play a key role when making judgements about which online content should be accepted and which should be removed. As such, their work fundamentally shapes the digital social and

Practicing Moderation: Community Moderation as Reflective Practice

Many types of online communities rely on volunteer moderators to manage the community and maintain behavioral standards. While prior work has shown that community moderators often develop a deep

Moderation Visibility: Mapping the Strategies of Volunteer Moderators in Live Streaming Micro Communities

It is found that the act of moderation involves highly visible and performative activities in the chat and invisible activities involving coordination and sanction in a role that relies heavily on both the social and technical.

Participatory Cultures of Digital Games: The Double-Edged Sword of Being a Reddit Community Moderator

Abstract Volunteer community moderators are at the centre of a multitude of conflicting views in the media and society, while being continually exposed to inappropriate content and risking their

Reconsidering Self-Moderation

This work provides six guiding questions for future research that can support the development of a form of user-driven moderation that is widely implementable across a variety of social spaces online, offering an alternative to the corporate moderation models that dominate public debate and discussion.

Moderation Challenges in Voice-based Online Communities on Discord

It is suggested that the affordances of voice-based online communities change what it means to moderate content and interactions, and how voice communication complicates current understandings and assumptions about moderation.



CivilServant: Community-Led Experiments in Platform Governance

CivilServant is introduced, a novel experimentation infrastructure that online communities and their moderators use to evaluate policies and replicate each others' findings and the implications for evaluating platform governance in an open, democratic, experimenting society are discussed.

Going Dark: Social Factors in Collective Action Against Platform Operators in the Reddit Blackout

Social factors including the grievances of moderators, relations with platform operators, relations among moderators, subreddit resources, subreddit isolation, and moderators' relations with their subreddits that can lead to participation in mass collective action against a platform are revealed.

Bot-based collective blocklists in Twitter: the counterpublic moderation of harassment in a networked public space

It is argued that blockbots are not just technical solutions but social ones as well, a notable exception to common technologically determinist solutions that often push responsibility for issues like harassment to the individual user.

The politics of ‘platforms’

Online content providers such as YouTube are carefully positioning themselves to users, clients, advertisers and policymakers, making strategic claims for what they do and do not do, and how their

America Online volunteers

• This article continues previous work that analysed the case of America Online (AOL) volunteers from critical perspectives of immaterial and free labor, and incorporates newly acquired documents and

"Popcorn Tastes Good": Participatory Policymaking and Reddit's

It is argued that the sustainability of online communities like Reddit will require successful navigation of the complex and often murky intersections among technical design and human interaction through a distributed participatory policymaking process that promotes user loyalty.

#Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures

The ways in which Reddit’s karma point system, aggregation of material across subreddits, ease of subreddit and user account creation, governance structure, and policies around offensive content serve to provide fertile ground for anti-feminist and misogynistic activism are considered.

"This is a Throwaway Account": Temporary Technical Identities and Perceptions of Anonymity in a Massive Online Community

A predictive model is presented that suggests that perceptions of anonymity significantly shape the potential uses of throwaway accounts and that women are much more likely to adopt temporary identities than men.

What is a flag for? Social media reporting tools and the vocabulary of complaint

The working of the flag is unpacked, alternatives that give greater emphasis to public deliberation are considered, and the implications for online public discourse of this now commonplace yet rarely studied sociotechnical mechanism are considered.

Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics

This article investigates the social, technical, and legal affiliations among “geeks” (hackers, lawyers, activists, and IT entrepreneurs) on the Internet. The mode of association specific to this