Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In House Moderation

Since starting this blog, I have been told a couple of times that a big part of the problem with NOLA.com's moderation is that it is conducted by Advance Publications in New Jersey, or some other far flung place, by people with little connection with New Orleans or The Times Picayune.

Apparently, according to a tweet from Lauren Wilbert, a producer at NOLA.com, the moderation is now conducted in house here in New Orleans: "Oh yes, and they've gotten more organized about it. Also, we do in-house moderation now.". (She was responding directly to a tweet, which asked, "Does advance still have the group in NJ to handle the abuse/inapp comment notifications?") She also notes, in a series of tweets in which she responded to the Gambit tweet about this blog, that "We get rid of 100s of bad comments/day" and that it is unfair for me to suggest that NOLA.com somehow encourages offensive comments. 

One of my hopes in starting this blog was that some scrutiny on the vileness that has been tolerated on NOLA.com FOR YEARS would provoke NOLA.com to take action to prevent its forum from constantly debasing our community. It appears that efforts, while still not sufficient in my view, were well underway before I started here. 

I do not know when in house moderation commenced but, to be fair, I have noticed recently that there are less offensive comments on stories and that the offensive ones are removed with greater frequency than I saw in the past. 

Has anyone else noticed this? Or am I fooling myself?


  1. I wonder if "We get rid of 100s of bad comments/day" means simply that they search for offensive words and remove the comments that contain them. That's a far cry from having staff read comments and moderating them.

  2. I'm inclined to believe Mr Lenore. There are plenty of messages on there that are hateful and terrible without using a single word that could be construed as racist or offensive in itself.

    It's always been a tricky line to toe, though: too few moderations and it's encouraging the nastiness, too much and it's ripe for a cry of censorship. The webmasters set the tone, though, and the tone was set long ago on nola.com as a free-for-all. I'm inclined to think they ought to turn off the comments for everything at this point just to reset their priorities.

  3. Couldn't tell you. I read what passes for articles over there and then go searching for facts. Haven't paid attention to the comment boxes in… who knows. AlthoughI think I'll be keeping up with them here. :)

    The drop in rudeness might just mean a drop in overall readership…