Categories: Opinions & Insights3 min read

Clients often want to know how we make decisions when we moderate sites. They worry that their reputation might be harmed if a site they sponsor is not well moderated. We understand. Quality content moderation is key to building trust and supporting vital exchanges in peer support communities. In this blog post, we’ll discuss our process for effective moderation.

What we’ve learned

Let participants lead. People who participate in social communities want to hear from their peers, not the moderators. The best moderation is unobtrusive. We’ve found that setting up community rules ahead of time and using the rules consistently is the best way to build and maintain trust.

Sometimes rules need to be adjusted or added to address new challenges. The best way to do that is to be transparent with the community about what is changing and why. If posts need to be modified or removed, communicate clearly with the person who posted so they understand what needs to be changed. Things that might trigger a need for a change in a post include:

  • Wild theories or misinformation
  • Product or personal promotion
  • Bullying or attacking others in the community

The goal of moderation is to clear the path for people to make connections with one another. Sometimes this involves starting conversations by asking a provocative question or telling a personal story. Sometimes it means suggesting that a thread has run its course and the group can move on. Thoughtful moderators help others on the site grow and develop their own moderation skills. Peers who rise to positions of trust or become moderators gain valuable skills and help communities develop and thrive.

Your brand is reflected in moderation quality

Investing in quality moderation creates a path to success for your site and reflects your brand positively.

Misinformation about healthcare options or treatments can be deadly. Our skilled moderators know how to address misinformation without shutting down discussion. It takes balance and judgment to walk this tightrope well. We’ve done this before and have the skills to manage tricky discussions effectively.

What are some approaches and tools?

Here are some of the approaches we’ve found work well: 

  • Make sure your terms and conditions are clear. Your site policies against swearing, harassment, sales, and misinformation can be your best friend. They provide guidelines you can point your community to if issues arise. In the worst situations, they provide a reason to terminate or restrict someone’s posting privileges.
  • Establish clear goals. Explicit goals for the site can help you ensure that discussions stay on point.
  • Provide an up-front process for validating the participant’s identity. Individuals may be anonymous to other users, but validating them can make a difference in how they behave on your site. It also gives you additional options if their behavior is problematic.
  • Use automated tools to catch offensive words and phrases. Natural language processing (NLP) capabilities can reduce the manual effort of good moderation. Don’t imagine that automated tools replace the need for humans, however. It takes both! Automated tools help raise issues though.
  • Enlist your members. Give members ways to report problematic content without engaging the poster directly. This gives you, the moderator, a chance to interact directly with the problematic person and reduces friction in the community.
  • Correct misinformation quickly. If you are seeing posts that promote misinformation or are deceptive in other ways, issue a fact-based correction quickly. Don’t give falsehoods a chance to take root in your community.
  • Be transparent. If you’re seeing problematic posts, remind everyone about your community guidelines. Explain some of the reasons you’ve taken action. Transparency goes a long way toward building and maintaining trust in your moderation and within the community.


Effective moderation policies and approaches make the difference between a site that feels welcoming and one that feels hostile. You want people to trust your site and the peers they find there. That starts with competent and thoughtful moderation. Synergiq can help you achieve the right balance.

About the Author: Jan Oldenburg

As a long-time digital health advocate, I'm passionate about the role peer support can play in helping people connect, build relationships, and heal each other.


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