O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference - March 3-6, 2006 - San Diego, CA
Conference Coverage


Shut Up! No, *You* Shut Up: A Pattern Language for Moderation Strategies

Clay Shirky, Decentralization Writer/Consultant, shirky.com

Date: Wednesday, March 08
Time: 9:10am - 9:30am
Location: Elizabeth Ballroom ABCD

As we continue to connect our devices, the users come along for the ride--the ability to connect groups of people is turning out to be a critical tool in application design. Group intelligence can be harvested in different ways for different purposes, from the collaborative filtering of Last.FM, to stay-at-home moms coordinating via MeetUp, to the way the choice of CVS affects the way Linux Kernel hackers get their jobs done.

However, getting these groups to interact in valuable ways (or even non-destructive ones) is hard. Sadly, people lack the predictability of code. Sadder still, one of the few bits of predictability is their willingness to act like jerks under certain circumstances. Saddest of all, one of those circumstances seems to be communicating via keyboard and screen. As a result, anyone adding even modest social components to an application suddenly faces a welter of issues that come with the territory.

At the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, we have been observing and describing common patterns of moderating interaction, from the simple (appoint a moderator) to the complex (self-policing reputation systems). In the course of this work, we have observed three things: first, there is nothing as simple as a list of different techniques or strategies that have been adopted in the real world. We intend to fix that. Second, there are a large number of techniques and strategies that have been adopted once and only once. We believe that developers will benefit from seeing these patterns explained. Third, there are an even larger number of speculative techniques or strategies that seem as if they might work, but which have never been tried. We believe that there will also be considerable value in detailing these strategies as possibilities.

Shirky's talk details the building of a pattern language for moderation; will describe some of the commonest strategies; will describe some of the more interesting one-off patterns; and will end with some of the speculative patterns that might be useful if they are tried. As the pattern language will have its ultimate home on a wiki, he will also invite attendees to continue the conversation after ETech by adding to and altering existing entries.


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