Every community I’ve worked on has been set up slightly differently
This week I travelled up to Leeds to run a workshop I called ‘An introduction to moderating online communities’.
It was attended by three groups associated with Leeds Mind. All of them were thinking about online peer support. Some had a platform built and in testing. Others were still figuring out what, if anything, they wanted to offer. The session was designed to give a basic overview of those important questions and decisions that anyone setting up an online peer support community should consider. We also explored the benefits and risks of some of the options available and started to think about the needs of specific communities.
“It was a very thorough, well-paced and thoughtfully structured workshop. A great introduction to the topic providing plenty of points to consider” Zoe Ward, Senior Commuications Officer, NHS Leeds South and East CCG
I started the presentation by posing a list of key questions which we considered throughout the session. I thought I’d pose them here too.
What is the problem? Why? What is your experience?
These are questions you should be asking people from the very beginning. Without it you risk making expensive mistakes and creating products people don’t want or need. Talk to people. Test your assumptions. Don’t just ask what people want. Ask why they want it and then consider different options for solving that problem. Create something small and test it out. Keep on asking, reviewing and making changes – what people say and what they do in practice can be quite different.
What is community moderation?
Next we went back to basics and defined our terms. Moderation, safeguarding, peer support, engagement – these can sometimes mean different things to different people. We can’t make useful decisions until we’re all talking about the same thing.
What kind of moderation do we want?
In defining community moderation we came up with a number of different types (including pre and post moderation) and a number of different roles that a moderator could have (including ‘policing’, providing support and facilitating peer support). We discussed what these might look like in practice.