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The Risks, Benefits, and Consequences of Prepublication Moderation: Evidence from 17 Wikipedia Language Editions

by   Chau Tran, et al.
NYU college
University of Washington

Many online communities rely on postpublication moderation where contributors – even those that are perceived as being risky – are allowed to publish material immediately without review. An alternative arrangement involves moderating content before publication. A range of communities have argued against prepublication moderation by suggesting that it makes contributing less enjoyable for new members and that it will distract established community members with extra moderation work. We present an empirical analysis of the effects of a prepublication review system called FlaggedRevs that was deployed by several Wikipedia language editions. We used panel data from 17 large Wikipedia editions to test a series of hypotheses related to the effect of the system on activity levels and contribution quality within the affected communities. We found that the system was very effective at keeping low-quality contributions from ever becoming visible. Although there is some evidence that the system discouraged participation among unregistered users, our analysis suggests that the system's effects on contribution volume and quality were moderate at most. Our findings imply that concerns regarding the major negative effects of prepublication moderation systems on contribution quality, project productivity, and community sustainability may be overstated.


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