So Much UGC, So Little Time: Options for Moderating User-Generated Content

We all know the value of incorporating social computing features such as comments, ratings, reviews, polls and blogs into the web presence. These kinds of interactive capabilities are essential for driving customer engagement and fostering community around your brand. Ratings and reviews can also play an important role in influencing the buying behavior of other site visitors. Checking out online ratings and reviews is something many of us commonly due before selecting a particular product or service. These social capabilities certainly help cultivate loyal and satisfied customers who in turn recommend your brand to others. But before enabling these kinds of features on your web presence, there are some things you need to consider.

Whether you want to enable product reviews or commenting on articles, you’ll want to assure that the dialogue on your website remains focused and relevant.  To accomplish this, you’ll need to consider how best to approach the moderation of the user-contributed content your site visitors will be generating.  

With an open community approach, there really is no moderation.  All can contribute to the conversation and all contributions are published on your website automatically.  While this approach eliminates barriers to participation, encourages a very free dialogue and requires little oversight, there are some serious drawbacks. Open communities can invite spam, trolling or other inappropriate behavior that can be damaging to your brand. For many enterprises, an open community is simply an inappropriate choice.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is a controlled community approach.  In this type of approach, all user-generated content is subject to moderation prior to publishing.  All contributed content needs to be reviewed and approved by a community manager prior to publication.  While this approach encourages contributors to be on their best behavior and provides the community manager with the most control, this approach can result in a considerable delay in the publishing of user-generated content and can discourage social interaction on your web presence.

Enterprises that wish to encourage social interactivity while safeguarding brand integrity may want to consider striking a balance between these two approaches.  If your web experience management platform permits it, this can be done by introducing some level of automated or community member triggered moderation. For example, you might employ user white-lists and blacklists to help determine which site visitors require moderation for their comments.  You could also use customizable keyword filters that will trigger the moderation of comments that contain specific key words such as profanity. Another option is to enlist members of the community in the moderation process, by enabling site visitors to flag content that they think is inappropriate.  When a comment is flagged for moderation by an automated filter or by site visitors, it can automatically be assigned to the appropriate community manager for review, editing, approval or deletion. In this way, low risk user-generated content can be published to your site quickly, while content that may be a cause for concern enters a moderation queue for further review.

See how simple is it to deploy user-generated content features and moderation using Oracle WebCenter Sites.


The idea of moderation is one of the most important considering the phenomenon of user-generated content, because it can have bad repercussions if used incorrectly. Think about the reputation hit CNN took after incorrectly reporting on the Boston Bomber- they showed a photo without verifying it, and it turned out to be the complete wrong person they ended up looking for. I agree it is important to moderate comments on a website, but it is crucial to strike a balance between that and taking away too much freedom for people to post what they want.

What people appreciate is engagement and interactivity- they want to feel included and feel like their voice is being heard, no matter the capacity or medium. My research looks specifically at broadcast news, and how they incorporate user-generated content into their broadcasts. What's important to remember here is that nothing said, or content used, can be taken back. Once you're live on TV, that's it. If you're going to use a photo or video sent to you by a citizen, you better make sure it is accurate and not doctored before using it. Sometimes, the race to be first trumps the race to be right, and that gets news organizations into trouble almost daily (at least it feels like).

Please, feel free to check out my blog at, or e-mail me at for more information on broadcast news and user-generated content!

Posted by guest on September 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM EDT #

What I find most interesting here is that the internet has played such a big part in the way we digest news, and how much it changes the way we create news. All the digital innovations that have come about have made it much, much easier for anyone to have access to news at any time, but it's also beneficial to understand how social media and the internet can help spread citizen journalism, which is one of the biggest ways in which news outlets gain access to the citizen journalism that is produced.

I think a lot of it depend on the type of platform that you have as well. Regulation is definitely needed in a news organization. If professional organizations are going to use citizen journalists work, then they need to double check that the information is reliable, credible, and true. If not it could lead to a lawsuit, or even worse, it could cause you your job.

Please feel free to visit my blog to read my insights into citizen journalism:

Posted by guest on January 28, 2015 at 01:24 PM EST #

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