Community Manager Moderation of User Contributions on a Danish User-oriented Online News Site

Purpose: The aim of this project is to collect a corpus of community managers’ (CM’s) moderation from the online user-oriented site “Nationen” operated by the Danish tabloid news media Ekstra Bladet. Based on preliminary investigations that came out of one week of IT support granted by NetLab, we want to test and develop scripts that allow for automatic 1) identification of news articles with user comments that are moderated by Nationen-employees, 2) identification of all instances of user content that has been deleted. The goal is to be able to use the script(s) to collect data that covers longer periods of time, by running the scripts every two minutes (thereby allowing for comparisons, which may reveal deleted content).

CMs on “Nationen” mainly moderate user discussions by deleting posts that are judged to break norms on the site rather than moderating by getting involved in discussions. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to identify posts that are deleted at a later time. For the purpose of establishing a corpus with data, we need IT support to develop the existing scripts and create an application that can harvest the relevant data and, if possible, set up a search engine that allows us to search for linguistic material in the corpus.

Support Type: Project

Description: News media have started to hire and train community managers (CM) to moderate user involvement on their online sites, but which technical, linguistic and interactional practices are involved, and how does this affect the dynamics of the democracy going digital? This project will attempt to address technological opportunities and hopefully solve digital challenges in relation to this research area, namely by focusing on a single news site and by testing and developing scripts and applications for harvesting user-generated content that is moderated by community managers. It is our hope that the outcome, in the form of technological insights and digital methods, will turn out operationalizable in our aim for establishing a similar research activity on other platforms, e.g. Facebook and Instagram.

Support period: Autumn 2020 – Spring 2021

Project Team:

Tina Thode Hougaard, Associate Professor, School of Communication and Culture, Scandinavian Studies, Aarhus University

Marianne Rathje, Senior Researcher at the Danish Language Council

Elisabeth Muth Andersen, Associate Professor, Department of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark