Everything in Moderation {click to return to homepage}

"Wisdom hath her excesses, and no less need of moderation than folly." Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

Welcome to Everything in Moderation...

October 15, 2003

After a few days of not really being able to get anything useful done, a massive battle with the CSS evil of IE 6, and considerable pondering of older links about moderation that I never managed to post on plasticbag.org, I can now finally welcome you all to Everything in Moderation - a new weblog designed to collect links and commentary on both technical and social ways of managing online communities and user-generated content.

Online community development is one of my passions, and I have designed and/or managed social software "solutions" for organisations like UpMyStreet, EMAP and the BBC (often alongside Cal Henderson and/or Denise Wilton. Moderation systems are a particular subpassion of mine. In the abstract, people can think they sound bland, technical or intimidating, but fundamentally moderation is really about all those parts of an online community that stop it just being a place where people stand and shout randomly at each other. They're about finding the structures and the mechanisms, the techniques and the sensitivities which will help a community form out of a seemingly random clumps of individuals, which will help that community defuse unpleasant situations without killing each other and protect that community from attack.

A rather unfair representation of 'moderation' would be to say that it's about moderators with special powers who operate as 'police'. Moderators can fulfil a whole variety of roles and moderation systems too can be extended, experimented with and pushed in all kinds of interesting directions. If you push the systems in one direction they become gestural political systems and the people within them become arbitrators, social workers, jurors, voters, advocates and negotiators. If you push them in another way, and build them into the very functioning of the board itself then it's like you're almost building ways of interacting into the physics of the world you're creating (whether that world be a shared representation of an realm like Everquest or just a light shell of interactions that lie over everyday encounters and relationships between friends). Moderators can be seen as gardeners or janitors, emperors or Gods and the systems that are employed can be baroque and imposing, collaborative and pragmatic or ambient or practically invisible.

Hopefully some of this will become clearer over the next few months. But in the meantime, there's a whole block of resources across the internet, articles and issues for me to think and talk about. i've been collecting interesting articles for ages but not finding much of a use for them until now, so you can expect there to be quite a lot of catching-up and scene-setting on the site over the next few weeks.

After that, what's the site here for? Fundamentally it's here to be a resource for people who work or play in fields like social software, user-generated content and online communities - whether the specific form be instant messaging, MMORPGs, social-network visualisers, message-boards, weblogs, user-reviews, peer-to-peer programs, wikis - anything where individuals or groups can veer out of control online and negate the experience and potential utility that other people might get from their group engagement. I'd like it to be a place where people threw in links that they thought were interesting so that they could share the information they've found with loads of other interesting and engaged parties from parallel disciplines - sharing and swapping techniques, ideas and thoughts of how to improve all the communities we work with and play in... So if you've got any tips for interesting or useful sites, then let me know by e-mail from the menu on the right...


Tom Coates said:

There are bound to be some bugs around the place as well. Sorry I didn't mention those! If you notice any - again, let me know and I"ll try and sort them out forthwith...

Henning Koch said:

I've been tinkering around extensively with moderation and rating schemes in the past few years. Thanks for creating this site, I know I will enjoy it!

Liz Lawley said:

No trackbacks. :(

Well, sort of no trackbacks. I did dig into your source and find the trackback ping URLs, but since they don't display anywhere on the site, it's a somewhat pointless exercise to use them...

Phil Wolff said:

Welcome to the fray! We soooo need this topic discussed.

Frank said:

Excellent article, much appreciated.

Kaye Vivian said:

Great topic for a blog. I'm looking forward to some excellent discussions!

Peter Bolger said:

Great! This blog discussed on the eMint community.
Anyone with interesting experiences of community management in the education arena?

lime said:

This is really interesting so far, I'm especially fascinated by all of the moderation discussion, as the community that I'm a part of has almost no moderation rules, beyond the rule of staying on topic in the particular thread, and revealing private information.

We've been going for over a year, and the philosophy has worked amazingly well for us, so far.

Tom Coates said:

I think what you have to bear in mind is that moderation isn't there for the times when you're community is operating normally, it's for those occasions when someone tries to throw a spanner in the works and you haven't got any mechanisms to stop them...

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