Moderation And Rules in Online Communities

We are looking for people interested in participating in this study! If you are over 18 years old, are a moderator for an online community, and can conduct an interview in English, please see the link above. We would love to talk to you and learn more about your moderation work. You will receive a $20 Amazon gift card in return for your participation.

As Bob Kraut and Paul Resnick have argued in their seminal book about online communities, effective regulation is one of the most important factors that make online communities successful. While communities are certainly governed by platform policies such as user agreements and content policies, the majority of the moderation work is accomplished by volunteer moderators who enforce rules created by their own communities. In this project, we deeply investigate the moderation ecosystem of online communities—What are the existing rules? How are these rules created and enforced? How do the moderation teams work behind the scene? And how does the moderation ecosystem expand across multiple communities and platforms?

Our prior work includes a mixed-methods study of 100,000 subreddits and their rules. Our findings characterize the types of rules across Reddit, the frequency of rules at scale, and patterns of rules based on subreddit characteristics. We find that rules appear to be context-dependent for individual subreddits but also share common characteristics across the site. Taken together, our findings provide a rich description of this ecosystem of rules, motivating further inquiry into underlying mechanisms for rule formation and enforcement in online communities.


  1. Reddit Rules! Characterizing an Ecosystem of Governance Fiesler, Casey and Jiang, Jialun "Aaron" and McCann, Joshua and Frye, Kyle and Brubaker, Jed
    Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-2018)