Controlling Bad Behavior in Online Communities: An Examination of Moderation Work
conference contributionposted on 03.09.2020, 00:05 by A McGillicuddy, Jean-Gregoire Bernard, Jocelyn Cranefield
A wide range of behavior may be seen as destructive to online communities. Yet behavior that is 'bad' in one community may be celebrated in another. The work of community maintenance is therefore strongly contextual, involving complex choices due to differing norms, community cross-membership, and the need to invoke fairness. The experienced, "lived in" work of moderators; how they enact norms and make choices about social maintenance, remains poorly understood. Our study addresses this gap, using a negotiated order lens. We employed netnographic techniques, analyzing online interviews with moderators of sub-communities in Reddit, and records of critical incidents. We find that moderators are intuitive prosecutors who draw on a variety of logics to accomplish their work. Controlling bad behavior, articulating and enforcing norms is, therefore, a collective accomplishment through which moderators make choices, create a jurisprudence record, and reconcile nested community norms in the maintenance of social order.