All That’s Happening behind the Scenes: Putting the Spotlight on Volunteer Moderator Labor in Reddit

Authors

  • Hanlin Li Northwestern University
  • Brent Hecht Northwestern University
  • Stevie Chancellor University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Keywords:

Human computer interaction; social media tools; navigation and visualization, Organizational and group behavior mediated by social media; interpersonal communication mediated by social media

Abstract

Online volunteers are an uncompensated yet valuable labor force for many social platforms. For example, volunteer content moderators perform a vast amount of labor to maintain online communities. However, as social platforms like Reddit favor revenue generation and user engagement, moderators are under-supported to manage the expansion of online communities. To preserve these online communities, developers and researchers of social platforms must account for and support as much of this labor as possible. In this paper, we quantitatively characterize the publicly visible and invisible actions taken by moderators on Reddit, using a unique dataset of private moderator logs for 126 subreddits and over 900 moderators. Our analysis of this dataset reveals the heterogeneity of moderation work across both communities and moderators. Moreover, we find that analyzing only visible work – the dominant way that moderation work has been studied thus far – drastically underestimates the amount of human moderation labor on a subreddit. We discuss the implications of our results on content moderation research and social platforms.

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Published

2022-05-31

How to Cite

Li, H., Hecht, B., & Chancellor, S. (2022). All That’s Happening behind the Scenes: Putting the Spotlight on Volunteer Moderator Labor in Reddit. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 16(1), 584-595. Retrieved from https://ojs.aaai.org/index.php/ICWSM/article/view/19317