RNW Media works with young people in restrictive settings in order to support their desire to bring about social change. We harness the potential of digital media channels to bring young people together in online communities where they can engage on the issues that matter to them and generate stories for advocacy. We work in restrictive settings where deep-rooted cultural, religious and social norms are often a barrier to young people’s ability to claim their rights and fulfil their aspirations for the future.
In order for these digital communities to provide a genuine conduit from online experience to real-life action, they must be places where young women and men from across political, ethnic, racial, regional, gender or religious divides can engage in respectful dialogues on sensitive topics and become open to thinking critically about the restrictive norms that shape their lives and societies. Active moderation is an essential element of making such dialogues possible.
“The most important role for a moderator is to bring different groups of people together and respect the different opinions they have. It’s essential to consider the different personalities and backgrounds of our users”
Elodie, moderator with Yaga Burundi
When applied as part of an holistic engagement strategy, moderation allows us to convert passive lurkers into active participants – bringing marginalised groups into the conversations and creating a safe space where young people feel not only able to take part but also benefit from it. RNW Media’s country teams all have local moderators who follow the online discussions seven days a week. By engaging with users and asking specific questions on posts and comments, they encourage young people to think critically and engage in constructive discussion.
“Each person is different and has a different understanding. My advice is to have love and passion for moderation because moderation means helping to create a community where young people feel safe”.
Mohammed, moderator with Benbere (Mali)
For RNW Media, moderation is about looking at the conversations taking place in our communities and generating dialogue. Our moderation strategy is based on choices about how we want our online communities to interact and on encouraging positive behaviours that result in constructive and inclusive discourse. This enables safe spaces where young people can express their views, needs and opinions and engage in respectful discussion about topics that matter to them.
“When a user thinks that women are inferior, I am tempted to answer as Bella (an individual), but I need to react as the organisation. I am not allowed to push for an argument in order to abruptly change the user’s opinion”.
Bella, moderator with Yaga Burundi.
In order to test the effectiveness of our moderation strategy and to understand how moderators influence an online discussion, we conducted A/B tests on the Facebook pages of Yaga (Burundi), Habari RDC (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Benbere (Mali). This research provided us with many insights and is the basis of a report by RNW Media’s planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning (PMEL) team. The report delves into what community moderation means, why we believe it is an essential component of our Citizens’ Voice programme, and the strategies we have developed together with our moderators to guide them in the work they do and the decisions they need to make. Moderators working in Burundi, DRC and Mali also share their experience and insights, showing how moderation works in practice.
If you’re interested in learning more about the difference active moderation can make in online communities, please download the full report Online Community Moderation.