10/04/2010 05:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

HuffPost Comments: Addressing Concerns About Our Community Moderator Badge

This is part of a series about HuffPost Comments, HuffPost Badges and the HuffPost moderation team.

About six months ago, we launched the HuffPost Badges program as a way to reward our most engaged community members for their activity on the site. In her announcement post, Arianna wrote:

We've always wanted HuffPost to be home to conversations in which people connect, discuss, share ideas, and have lively debates about the issues -- while remaining civil. To this end, we've used a combination of human moderation, tech tools, and the input of our community members to flag inappropriate and objectionable comments.

The Moderator badge allows you to more actively participate in this process.

Since the launch of the badge, a number of readers have expressed some concern about community moderators abusing their deletion powers and scrubbing posts. I'd like to address these concerns by explaining how our staff monitors the behavior of the Community Moderators.

We designed the Badges program to rely on a system of checks and balances. Many of these are tech-driven. For instance, if a Level 1 Community Moderator goes on a flagging spree, she/he will lose their badge. In order to keep their badge, Level 1 Community Moderators must maintain an acceptable ratio of good flags to bad flags. A flag is "good" if the flagged comment is later deleted by our staff moderators.

Level 2 Community Moderators are held to an even higher standard. Using a combination of technology and staff oversight, we watch for unusual behavior from the small group of users who have been given the ability to delete comments from the site. If we notice a number of deletes on a specific post or another user emails us with a complaint about a moderator scrubbing a post, we investigate. If indeed that community moderator is abusing their delete privilege, we revoke their badge. This has happened only a couple of times and the issue was quickly resolved.

If you suspect a community moderator is abusing their badge, let us know:

Finally, it's worth pointing out that our staff moderators are a different group than our community moderators. Staff moderators are paid HuffPost employees who are trained in HuffPost's comment moderation guidelines. Readers with the Community Moderator Badge earn the badge by having a history of flagging abusive comments. While they are not official representatives of HuffPost, we watch their commenting behavior closely and generally find that they use their flagging and deleting privileges responsibly.

On the HuffPost masthead, you can see the four pillars on which the site has been built: News, Blogs, Video, Community. We're especially proud of that final piece and have tried to make HuffPost a destination not only for people to read about the news but also to talk about the news.

Let us know what else we can do to make our site a better place for these discussions.