Image of What’s a modqueue? What are moderators (mods)?

Spam is a problem on the Web. A very, very big problem. Many companies make a ton of money selling spam filter solutions just for email alone. Community moderators are there to manually keep the community clear of non-relevant or abusive posts and comments. They work diligently to quickly remove any content that isn’t consistent with their community’s goals and values (or our user agreement).

But, there is so much unwanted content that companies have developed highly complex solutions to automate some of the process. This reduces the amount of poor content through which moderators have to sift. From watching some companies like reddit deal with spam automatically, we noticed quite a bit of valuable content and content providers censored, banned, or “moderated” that, in our humble opinion, should have been treated otherwise.

So we decided to approach the (very) real problem differently.

It occurred to us that one of the reasons there is so much spam on the Web is because there aren’t any financial disincentives to the spammer. Was there a way we could change that? One way was to charge a very small transaction fee (two karma) in order to submit anything. Certainly, some will still spam, even if there’s a cost, but it likely would be a deterrent for the largest spammers, who can generate thousands – or even millions – of garbage posts and comments.

We would also allow users to flag content as spam and allow moderators to remove spam, but we wouldn’t do it automatically and we’d move that removed content to a place where it could still be viewed. A particular article is against what you’re community stands for? No problem – remove it through your community’s modqueue (your moderator’s tool for dealing with unwanted content).

But to discourage "downvote brigades" who often incorrectly (and, might we add, dishonestly) flag items as spam, we “charge” a user one karma to flag an item. This provides a disincentive and, thus, reduces (albeit doesn't eliminate) the number of users flagging items in order to censor content with which they don’t agree. If the moderator agrees with the flagging users, the post or comment is removed and the flagging users get their karma returned. Additionally, if the post or comment received any upvotes and the content author still has that karma available, the flagging users will receive a “bounty” of the author’s upvotes (divided equally, rounded down).

For example, an author creates a post in your community, which costs two karma, and that post earns five upvotes (potentially self-promotion upvotes from the author). If two users flag that post as inappropriate to the community’s purpose (which “costs” them one karma each), the post will be shown in your community’s modqueue. If a moderator selects the post to be removed (i.e., agrees with the two users, even if a different reason for removal is chosen), the post will be moved out of your community and into the graveyard. The author will lose the five karma (in addition to the two karma it already cost to submit). The two users will each receive a refund of their one karma. Additionally, after one week (in which the author has an opportunity to “appeal” the moderator’s decision), each of the two users will receive a bounty of two karma for their diligence (assuming that the author hadn’t used the five karma elsewhere).

If your moderator disagrees that the post should remain, the two users who flagged the post have each lost one karma.

As an additional disincentive to spam, we've also added a public list of spammers: the Hall of Shame. You don't want to be there.

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We’re not entirely sure it’s appropriate to call this the Frequently Asked Questions area as, candidly, we don’t keep track of how often these questions get asked. Consider this community as a place where we post answers to what we anticipate your questions will be. But, if our crystal ball is malfunctioning, feel free to post your question in /GettingStarted/Help. If we turn your question into an FAQ, we’ll credit you back the karma to post it. It’s the least we can do. We also welcome suggestions at /GettingStarted/SuggestionBox.

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