Moderation And Rules in 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. Characterizing Community Guidelines on Social Media Platforms Jiang, Jialun "Aaron" and Middler, Skyler and Brubaker, Jed R. and Fiesler, Casey
    CSCW 2020 Companion
  2. Technological Frames and User Innovation: Evidence from Online Community Moderation Teams Kiene, Charles and Jiang, Jialun "Aaron" and Hill, Benjamin Mako
    Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 3, CSCW: Article 44
  3. Moderation Challenges in Voice-based Online Communities on Discord Jiang, Jialun "Aaron" and Kiene, Charles and Middler, Skyler and Brubaker, Jed R. and Fiesler, Casey
    Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 3, CSCW: Article 55
  4. 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)