Curious: Parents Trust Moderators…?

Okay, I take staffing VERY seriously. I’ve been accused of being a zealot recently in terms of my paranoia with private information, kid contact, and the “Grey Area” of tween community communication. At first I was very pleased with the zealot label… why wouldn’t I want to be concerned with responsibility of those put under my charge (even in in web form)? I was a nanny, a camp counselor, a teacher– I’ve been privy to some of the darker sides of childcare (thankfully, not due to anything I’ve done, and more to horror stories, peer watching, and parent contact). But then I realized that zealot isn’t always a very lovely term (especially how it was said to me at the time).

Why is it that society shows SO MUCH concern for the adults put in charge of kids in a public structure (teachers & schools) and barely acknowledge the question: “Who is moderating my kid?”

Granted, companies that provide online community functions within their websites for kids should automatically train their moderators and screeners (Heaven knows I do to the point of micromanagement… trust earned, trust earned). Unlike teachers and camp counselors and babysitters and nannies and coaches– parents never get the face-to-face with the people responsibility for safe-guarding their kids online activities. I’m just uber-interested in why I don’t get more emails from parents asking me about the management & staffing & safety of my team. Ate least I’m ready for such questions.

As you can see from this good ole blog– I’m uber concerned about kids welfare online. How is it that I rarely hear (or read) about others who are in charge of a youth online community? In this day and age of uber technological transparency (Joi has a great article about this), I find it funny that others in my profession remain silent and don’t participate in this BOOM of communities & online marketing for the tater tots.

A tangent of this topic is– while all of these branded companies are scurry scurry scurrying about trying to create brand evangelism through their online facilities… why haven’t the big biz (OUTSIDE of online community positions) started taking a public stance about their investment in quality staffing? “Anyone can do it, I don’t care who does it as long as it gets done.” <– This is the vibe I keep getting and it just confounds me. No. Not everyone can do it– and you don’t want just ‘anyone’ doing it. Recently I’ve come across a “community” student who, upon further connect-the-dots websurfing, proved NOT to be very clever about private information & a TMI profile (took me two click-thru to get to this information, that’s all). Wouldn’t hire him if you begged me. People around me keep calling him a “guru”– and I’m just stunned.

Fan sites giving management powers to fans– I can’t comment on that. But a business giving access to the management/admin tools over an ocean of kids in a community to just “anyone”? NOT ACCEPTABLE. This is not backyard babysitting with the teenager next door, whom you watched grow from infancy.

Community staff have their collective ears tuning into the voices of the community… the audience. You want to know what people think of your brand? Where the problems are? Where the trends are? Do you want to know who is representing you (the brand) to the public? Start paying attention to the people who serve the community: not only to protect yourself, your kids, your brands– but also to push possibility & opportunity & entertainment & involvement to the future.

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  1. May 25, 2007 at 2:49 am

    Bravo! Three Cheers & then some! As always, many are putting profitability & mega-distribution over common sense and sound judgment; nice to see you’re lookin’ out for “the tater tots.” (darling phrase, btw!) You go girl!

  2. May 25, 2007 at 2:52 am

    P.S. In thinking further on this…This would be a great feature, Izzy…the ‘staffing’ element of moderated social networks. Who’s doing it, who should be doing it, how do you screen properly (as a media person, and as a parent!) and why it’s so important. (particularly for tweens…) Ping me if you’d like to explore this further, ‘k? Best, Amy

  3. Joi
    May 25, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Oh, Izzy. You make a gal so proud. What a GREAT post!

    What are your thoughts on scalability of moderation? I have mine and I know I have shared them with you. But I think it would be interesting for you to write a post on that with your, now very impressively sized, audience and get a dialogue going around that.

    Keep on keepin’ on, even when those roadblocks keep getting in your way. You are on the right path, remember that. 😀

  4. May 27, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Hooray for zealots. Excellent post, Izzy. This is one of those areas where you can’t be too careful about staffing. The right person can create magic, and the wrong person can break everything.

  1. June 2, 2007 at 3:55 pm
  2. June 13, 2007 at 6:48 pm
  3. July 13, 2007 at 4:10 pm

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