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Distributed moderation systems: an exploration of their utility and the social implications of their widespread adoption.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Richard Mills
Publication date2013
Number of pages439
Awarding Institution
Award date1/06/2014
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The present research introduces and investigates Distributed Moderation systems - in particular, sites where the votes of users are aggregated in order to rank or grade items of content. The primary subject of this research is reddit.com - a 'social news' website where users vote to collectively determine the level of visibility which will be afforded to submitted items of content.

This research is investigative in nature - at its inception there was little published research on Distributed Moderation (DM) systems. The question which has guided the research is "what can we learn about these systems through observation and the interrogation of data which they naturally produce and store in their day-to-day operation?". There are Chapters of the thesis which investigate how DM works in practice (Chapter 5) and how/why individual users participate (Chapter
6). The research also devotes considerable attention to the social implications of producing information resources in this fashion (Chapter 7) - how do the resources which are produced using DM systems differ to those produced in a more conventional manner?

At the outset of this research reddit was a relatively little-known website - over the course of the research it has become much more widely recognised and in the process it has changed considerably. Chapter 8 considers reddit from a longitudinal perspective; observing its development has offered insight into both the potential and the limitations of this particular application of DM. The final
Chapter re-visits research questions and considers how one might go about adapting DM to other domains, with an emphasis on the political.