Minimum Viable Community Management Toolkit

The tools you will need to protect an open online community from abuse:

  • Abuse Detection
    • Manual & automated monitoring
    • Automated tools must be able to adapt to new forms of abuse as they emerge
    • User-visible “Report abusive content” feature
      • Fills gaps in internal content monitoring
      • Helps teach you what your specific community considers “abusive.”
    • Review queue for internal team
      • Collect & prioritize abuse reports
      • Suggest appropriate resolutions based on history of user’s past behavior
      • Must be as quick/easy as possible, since it will be scanned frequently
      • (maybe) Provide feedback to users when reports are resolved. Be careful, this can lead to frustration if user disagrees with your judgment.
    • Muting tools
      • Time-limited and permanent mute (read-only mode)
      • Provides “cooling-off” time without permanent harm
    • Banning tools
      • Time-limited and permanent bans
      • (maybe) “Shadowbans” to slow down adversary response
    • Reputation Database
      • Prevent abusers from returning under different names/accounts
      • Track: IP addresses, email addresses, VPNs, social network accounts, browser/device fingerprints
    • Anti-Fraud Firewall
      • Close off channels that abusers use to target the community
      • Anonymizing Proxies/VPNs, Throw-away email providers, Datacenters, Country-level blocks, rate limits
    • Identity verification to guard posting privileges
      • e.g., social network login or SMS phone line
      • Note: do not rely on Google or Facebook OAuth alone to authenticate identity. They are bad at this.

    Nice-to-have improvements:

    • Honeypot / “Lightning Rod”
      • Divert troublemakers to a well-confined area
    • Pro-active detection & response
      • Look for signs of incoming abuse before it happens
      • Deflect in a positive direction, or pre-emptively mute

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