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Discussion on: I’m Tommy MacWilliam, CEO & Co-Founder of Serenade. Ask Me Anything!

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Ben Halpern

I used to be head of platform over at Quora

Based on your work at Quora and observations of the current landscape of Q&A + social media and community, etc., what do you think is missing? If you could snap your fingers and change how some of these platforms work, what would you make different?

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Tommy MacWilliam Ask Me Anything • Edited on

Moderation is such an important part of any community, and yet it's still an afterthought on so many platforms. Companies that are laser-focused on short-term growth might neglect moderation (if we ban users, then we have fewer users!), and people working on the product might not be fully empathizing with the experience of many people in the community. The bottom line is that it's still way too easy to be a jerk on the Internet and have a profoundly negative impact on someone else's life.

So, if I could change anything, I'd want to make technical and structural changes.

Quick, how many web frameworks can you name off the top of your head? Probably at least a few, right? Now, how many content moderation libraries can you immediately name? Probably none. The technical barrier to implementing ML-based moderation should simply be much lower than it is right now. It's certainly a hard technical problem, but one that's solvable. (And this isn't to say that ML is the only thing necessary to implement moderation, but it's a great starting point.)

Structurally, I wish more community products made strong content moderation a core pillar from the very start, as opposed to something that's tacked on at the end. Within organizations, moderation teams need to have a strong voice and ability to influence the product, which isn't the reality in many places today. Quora made moderation a top-level priority early on, and I don't think it would have grown to the same scale if it hadn't.

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Ben Halpern

Thanks for the response!