Speech Issues  

Newsgroup Moderation

Study Guide

    Who are moderators?

    In order to keep the volume of off-topic traffic in a newsgroup to a minimum, postings to that group may be subject to the approval of a person who has been designated the newsgroup moderator. All items posted by anyone else into that newsgroup are mailed to the moderator, instead of being added to the newsgroup immediately. The moderator then decides whether the item is appropriate, and if so, adds it to the newsgroup with an Approved: header indicating that sites should accept it as an item in that newsgroup. If an item is posted to multiple newsgroups, it is not actually added to any of them until it has been approved by the moderators of all moderated newsgroups to which it has been posted. In addition, a newsgroup moderator may cancel any posting to that newsgroup, regardless of where it originated. There is only one moderator for a given newsgroup, who handles traffic originating from any site. In practical terms, this means that you don't have to worry about moderated newsgroups unless the moderator lives at your site.

    What is a moderated newsgroup?

    In un-moderated newsgroups, the local news server software normally makes messages posted to the newsgroup available for reading soon after they are posted, and the messages then spread to other news servers over the next few days. 

    In a moderated newsgroup, the local news server software will automatically e-mail the message to a moderation address, where a moderator acts as a gatekeeper, posting to the newsgroup only those messages which the moderator allows to be posted. All moderated groups are generally handled in the same way by local news server software, regardless of their news hierarchy.

    Moderation is usually proposed for a newsgroup to: decrease the volume of off-topic posts and/or cross-posted threads increase the significant on-topic content of posts

    Benefits of Moderators.

    Each moderated newsgroup is operated independently from other moderated newsgroups, and the procedure used by each moderator to handle messages is probably unique to that news group, although some techniques are in common use by many moderators.
    • Good Netiquette Resource 
    • What advantages do Moderators bring to a newsgroup? 
    • Do legal responsibilities increase because of a Moderator? 

    Possible Problems for moderated groups.

    Since messages are sent to a single moderation address, anything relying on that address is a possible single point of failure for the moderation process. However, most types of system failure are short-lived, and operation of the group can resume rapidly. 

    Another possible problem is that the moderator will "burn out" - get exhausted from dealing with the volume of messages, questions, complaints, arguments, etc., etc. Having multiple moderators or being able to hand off the responsibility to a substitute can help.

    Alternatives to moderators.

    This question is usually asked in response to proposals to moderate existing high-traffic newsgroups, in hope of avoiding moderation. Posters could use more descriptive Subject: lines, and change Subject: lines in their followups to better describe a changing subject, or use tags or keywords in Subject: lines, but this is usually more effective in a low-volume newsgroup with a strong sense of community, and less effective in higher-volume newsgroups that have a greater proportion of new posters, or of people who can not or will not change subject lines, or for people who use news software that ignores the References: header, and thus find it harder to follow discussion threads across a change in Subject:.
    • Is this more of a trust issue?
    • Do the legal liabilities increase or decrease these alternatives?

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