Mass moderation in phpBB

The moderation of large bulletin boards requires a lot of effort. To guarantee an effective control of the forum activity, the number of moderators should be proportional to the number of users which populate the forum. If an inadequate number of moderators makes the maintenance of the forum defective, on the other hand the presence of many moderators may generate incoherences and divisions over the forum users.

A crucial problem is then how to effectively moderate large bulletin boards, while relying on a minimal number of moderators.

A further problem is how to reliably rank posts. Indeed, large bulletin boards grow everyday of thousands of new posts. The chaotic accumulation of content prevents users from quickly finding the information they are looking for. Running through all the new posts is a time-consuming operation, since the relevant posts typically are a little fraction of the whole. A reliable post ranking system would allow for emphasizing the informative posts, while putting aside the bad ones.

To overcome these problems, we have taken inspiration from Slashdot to implement a mass moderation system for phpBB, the most popular open-source forum package. Mass moderation makes canonical moderators unneeded, by reliably distributing the moderation duties to the (best) forum users.

The main features of our phpBB mod are:

    • users can vote posts and topics. Posts votes can be customized, e.g. informative, funny, spam, off-topic, flame, etc.
    • an algorithm associates a score with each post and topic.
    • users can set their visualization threshold. Only the posts above such threshold will be shown to the user.
    • search results can be sorted by score.
    • an algorithm associates a karma to each user. The karma measures the quality of the user activity, by taking into account the scores of her posts.
    • a token distribution system. Tokens are moderation points, which can be spent to vote posts and topics. The probability that a user receives some tokens is proportional to her karma.
    • a custom Administration Control Panel, where admins can fine-tune the mass moderation parameters, e.g. token distribution frequency, how many token to assign per period, etc.
    • a custom User Control Panel, where users can decide whether participating or not in the mass moderation, set the visualization threshold, etc.
    • mass moderation statistics.

The mass moderation mod is available on the phpBB developers forum.