User-Generated Safety: How Communal Tools Can Aid in Moderation


Online communities, whether they exist in popular apps, chat programs, forums, or social media networks, shape the “town square” of voices for your customers and audiences. Creating a place online where people feel safe and that their voices are heard can work in your brand’s favor.

An active community can have hundreds of users online at any given time with just a handful of moderators. Utilizing chat filters to help remove or automatically flag specific types of behaviors helps to create a moderation first line of defense, and provide priority guidance for moderation practices. Managing your chat filters is not a “one time” event either. Updating and pruning is key to making sure the filters are accurately collecting behaviors that break terms of use.

One way to encourage your online community to aid in keeping the community safe is to offer them the tools they need to effortlessly call out potentially harmful content. The ability to tag and report posts is a great place to start.

Communal flagging tools put safety into the hands of every user, empowering them to say something if they see something. Flagging and reporting posts is vital in creating a safe platform. Once the material has been reported, there needs to be a system in place to review questionable content and, if it’s deemed necessary, remove that material. While users can’t make the ultimate decision, they can aid moderators by bringing harmful content to their immediate attention. Providing topics for community discourse, organizing threads or pinned content, visibly supporting questions and triaging issues, and engaging the community can also help shape the health and proactive well-being of a community.

Perception is reality for most people. What a moderator may not deem offensive may be off-putting to a user. Building clear, thoughtful community rules based on your Terms of Service, end-user license agreement (EULA), or general best practices clarifies a lot of confusion in judgment calls. Additionally, ensure that actions taken to accounts or posts are consistent and communicated properly.

In order to ensure users feel valued and safe in your community, it’s imperative to have a system in place that acknowledges them and their efforts. A simple “shout-out” or thank you for their input can go a long way in keeping them engaged. House these communal tools in locations on your site that are obvious, provide clear instructions on how to use them, and uphold your dedication to create and maintain a safe space for all users. These will serve as great incentives for your visitors to feel invested in helping you keep your brand’s online community safe, inclusive, and fun.