Moderators – the online cleaning crew

Picture: Fever, a user of goSupermodel

Picture: Fever, a user of goSupermodel

Children’s online communities like Momio and goSupermodel would be quite different without moderators. On watAgame’s products, moderators are older users who work together with the professional Community Managers. They help to keep the community safe and fun while showing a good example. To shed some light into the moderator work, we talked with two “mods”: Tenna from Denmark and Iina from Finland. They’re both 22 years old and have worked as moderators for several years.

The most visible part of the moderator job is the cleaning: removing bad content from the community and educating users on good behaviour. Moderators also answer questions from the users, solve bullying cases and in general help the watAgame staff. Depending on the situation on the site, a moderating session lasts from a couple of minutes to several hours.

Expertise by doing

For years, Iina and Tenna have watched close as thousands of kids have been learning how to use the internet. If they could make sure all kids and youngsters knew one thing about online safety, what would it be?

“If you put something on the internet, it stays there forever”, says Iina, and Tenna adds: “The person behind the screen is not always who they say they are. So be careful!”

The generation that grew up with internet has a habit of thinking they understand the online lives of today’s kids just because they also spent time on the internet in their youth. Both Iina and Tenna belong to this generation, but they know better. The truth is that life on the internet changes all the time, and the change is perhaps the most rapid when it comes to kids. Something that was true a couple of years ago can now be a thing of the past.

“Back when I started using the internet, it wasn’t all over the place like it is today. We’d still go out to play and be totally offline. When I started as a moderator in 2007, I remember that the focus was on the tone that people used. The tone in general was just a lot nicer back then than it is today. It’s like these days people don’t understand that words do hurt”, Tenna says.

“I think the internet behaviour has evolved in many ways during the years. There’s a certain etiquette and people follow unwritten rules. Now it’s so easy to go online that internet is a much bigger part of life than before. That has lead to people being more open. There’s a lot of good in that. The internet also enables lots of great things like finding like-minded friends regardless of where you live. It just requires that people remember to be careful and think before they act”, Iina summarizes.

Enabling is key

Both girls are optimistic about the internet and have high hopes for it. “It’s important that parents give room to their children when it comes to future technology. Yes, negative things can happen, but instead of forbidding the use it’s better to support the kids and their interests. A good way to do that is to give tips on good online behaviour”, says Tenna. We can only agree!

watAgame has over 150 moderators working for Momio and goSupermodel. Most of them are teenagers or in their early twenties. The local moderator teams are tight crews that often become friends, and many of the mods will also benefit from the work when they enter the job market. The moderators are trained and lead by watAgame’s professional Community Managers.

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About the author:

Silja Nielsen, watAgame

Silja Nielsen is Head of Community and Safety at watAgame. She has been a watAgamer since 2010. Silja has a master’s degree in Media Studies and is interested in privacy, online behaviour and online communities.