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How to scale up to a massive online community


So you “built it and they came” and oops, they keep arriving and arriving and arriving. And they all have opinions and you are short a few (hundred) moderators. What are you going to do? Slashdot has the answer:

As you might have noticed, Slashdot gets a lot of comments. Thousands a day. Tens of thousands a month. At any given time, the database holds 40,000+ comments. A single story might have a thousand replies- and lets be realistic: Not all of the comments are that great. In fact, some are down right terrible– but others are truly gems.

The moderation system is designed to sort the gems and the crap from the steady stream of information that flows through the pipe. And wherever possible, it tries to make the readers of the site take on the responsibility.

The goal is that each reader will be able to read Slashdot at a level that they find appropriate. The impatient can read nothing at all but the original stories. Some will only want to read the highest rated of comments, some will want to eliminate anonymous posts, and others will want to read every last drip of data, from the First Posts! to the spam. The system we’ve created here will make that happen. Or at least, it sure will try…

Let your community moderate. Scary stuff I know, but seriously, for every troll, you’ll have 100 fairly reasonably minded folk silencing them. This is the challenge and the beauty of user generated content – let them take control. The users will reward you with stickability and loyalty.

I have already spoken about wiki here but lets revisit the wiki concept and apply it to the virtual worlds: When you let the users generate content you get opinions, factoids, inaccuracies and sometimes downright fibs. Umm how is this different from traditional media I hear you ask? 😛 Actually what you should be asking is: how is this different from traditional communities with their urban myths? It aint. And so? Your point is…? If you develop an online community with user generated content, participatory journalism and all that good stuff, its going to be inaccurate, full of urban myths and absolutely fascinating in spite of that. Over time, the members will address and correct most problem areas, but relax and accept the situation as part of the vibrancy and addiction of the online world!

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

One thought on “How to scale up to a massive online community

  1. >Let your community moderate.

    In one of the most enjoyable and mutually helpful communities I have belonged to, the old Pacific Forum (‘Pacforum’) on Compuserve, there was an understanding that any member could issue a ‘yellow card’ warning or alert, usually done with good humor, but quickly. My recollection is that we rarely went to red card status because people generally got the message from their peers and pulled their heads in.

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