Contrary to popular belief, moderation is not an easy job and being a good moderator and community manager does not ‘just’ involve scrolling through social media all day. It takes commitment, strength of character, creativity, tons of empathy and the ability to retain a lot of important information whilst making some pretty tough decisions (often under pressure). And while some people seem to think of moderation as a part-time, casual role, it's actually now a career, and increasingly among the young.
Introducing Becca, a super star of the StrawberrySocial community management and moderation team. She came to moderating around five years ago and is one of many young people making a career in community management and moderation. Oh and she really knows her stuff, working across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitch and Discord.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I don’t really have a typical working day, that’s the joy of the job. However, on most days I answer a lot of emails, organise team updates, carry out quality checks on the projects and have a great time crafting interesting responses to user questions. I also drink an awful lot of coffee!
What’s the best part of your day?
Being able to work on a lot of different projects for me, I find that I get bored if I’m doing the same thing for days. With moderation you never have the same type of day twice and you’re always learning something new. For example, platform updates are relentless (both for users and for those of us who carry out the admin) and so we really have to stay up to date with what is going on and then translate that into practical guidance for our teams. The same goes for the latest legislation and changes in online safety. We also often update our clients on anything that they may find useful too.
What would you like the public to know about the work you do? Do you think there are any preconceived ideas about the job of a moderator?
A lot of people think it’s really easy... “Oh yeah, I have some spare time and a laptop, I reckon I could do that…”
...but it’s deceptively complex and nuanced. And, experience really shows. There is so much to the job that most people wouldn’t have a clue about. It’s vastly under-respected but thankfully we’re seeing that starting to change.
Having to coordinate with the clients and the teams can sometimes be tricky, some of the content we deal with can be extremely sensitive or upsetting (i.e. we come across a depressing amount of child abuse content as well as hate speech and suicide threats) and making the right choice on what to do in different situations can mean you have to really take your time - it’s people’s safety you’re overseeing. Hence our company moderation motto is “Do it right, rather than do it fast”. We don’t agree with setting targets when it comes to how many items to process in a set time. You can sometimes clear 200 items very quickly or, you can find yourself having to spend an hour on an emergency/sensitive escalation.
You also have to have an amazing memory, because we work with a lot of clients who have a lot of different guidelines. To help stay on top of this we are constantly updating our project information areas on Basecamp. Escalation workflows can also be very complex and need tweaking and ‘re-learning’ as and when different situations arise.
What do you love about the work you do?
Honestly, I love all of it. I love being able to help people get the help they need, support a safe online space for users, write fun responses and learn about different industries and organisations. I enjoy working with the team and the clients, and the management team too.
Did you know much about the profession before you started?
I knew a little bit about it - my mum has been in the industry for about 20 years - but not as much as I thought! I’ve been interested in working in the industry since I was a child and I’d researched quite a bit on moderating and community management, but it’s not the same as when you actually start doing the work. There's so much more to it than meets the eye, so much to learn, so much to retain, so much responsibility and pressure.
Moderation is tough work, right? What do you do to unwind?
Yes it really is.
There are some things you just can’t ‘unsee’.
But, it is also really rewarding - we can make a real difference.
I’m a gamer, so I usually spend a couple of hours playing on either my Xbox or laptop after work. I also read a lot.