In March of 2008 the news site added a user commenting forum, that can be seen at the bottom of most news and sports stories.
On June 25th 2013 the CBC unveiled the newest version of it's forum software amid some surprise and a storm of objections, drawing nearly 2200 comments about the forums themselves.
In a blog post of June 26, 2013 Jennifer McGuire, CBC's editor in chief gives us some idea what is involved in moderation of such an active forum. She tells us the forums receive up to 300,000 comments a month and often can peak at 1,000 per hour on active stories. She also tells us that about 75 to 80 percent of the comments they receive are published.
A little bit of simple math begs the question: What happens to the other 20 to 25%?
Ms Mcguire also tells us the CBC does not do the actual moderation. Like the software, this is outsourced. This time, to a company named ICUC Moderation which is based in Winnepeg, Manitoba. ICUC in turn employs "telecommuters", outsourcing their own labour force to people scattered all over the globe. A comment posted in Ontario might be moderated in Argentina.
Having looked into this I believe the problem is structural, a result of "double outsourcing":
1 - The individuals doing moderation are scattered all over the globe. By virtue of distance it is difficult to envision each moderator receiving proper training... or any training at all.
2 - ICUC management is one step removed from the stream of individual comments. It is not possible for them to adequately oversee the comment by comment decisions of each Moderator. Thus; it is entirely possible that some moderators will "game the system", meeting quotas to get their paycheque, or moderate in unfair, even biased ways without ICUC knowing about it.
3 - In particular the common practice of disallowing comments about moderation leaves one to think they are hiding widespread user dissatisfaction from their bosses.
Since the CBC is two steps removed from the actual moderation, it is beyond unlikely they would catch a bad moderator -or company- until someone brings it to their attention.
If you experience questionable moderation of your comments, here are a few people you can write to about it:
- The CBC's content moderator email@example.com
- Andrew Yates, Producer, Community team firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jennifer McGuire Editor in Chief email@example.com
- Hubert T. Lacroix President and CEO firstname.lastname@example.org
Being more than two steps removed from the moderation process, it is very unlikely that any of these people will know about the problem unless we bring it to their attention.
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