Transparency in moderation

We value transparency. It’s right there in our charter:

Set the standard in journalism best practice. Be open, transparent and accountable. Where errors occur correct them expeditiously.

We ensure authors provide disclosure statements. When there’s a mistake in the article, we correct it and inform our readers about the change.

However, our moderation practices aren’t as transparent as they could be. And that’s something we should work on.

The importance of trust

Moderation isn’t just a matter of removing comments that flout our community standards: it’s also about working towards a constructive, welcoming community. That requires trust in us, our system and our moderators.

Some people may never trust a moderation system. But there are things we can improve to help other people trust us a bit more.

One of the main complaints we get from people is that we don’t explain why a comment is removed unless they ask us why. That’s understandable.

I’ll be making more of an effort to do two things:

  • Intervene in comment threads before removing comments, to explain and reinforce our standards
  • Proactively explain why a comment was removed via email.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to intervene in every thread before removing comments or explain every removal without prompting. And I won’t let comment sections turn into a place where moderation decisions are discussed more than the article.

But I’ll make an effort to do more.

There are a other changes we can make too. For example, we could make our Community Council moderators more visible on the site. But such changes time time and resources to get made.

In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to make The Conversation’s moderation more transparent. Hopefully that alleviates some confusion about what we do and, in time, makes our community a better place to be.