Social media needs real moderators


Effective community management is important for any group on social media. The main focus is often on engaging the members in the group and making it a community that people want to take part in.

However, occasionally when someone posts a content that is inappropriate – or oversteps the community guidelines – you need to be ready to step in.

These are important issues for school communities too. Parents now communicate online – many within social media groups. However, unmonitored or mishandled – online issues can have ramifications for the school.

The importance of moderation has been highlighted in the news recently too with social media giants coming under fire in how they they are mishandling content monitoring.

The chairman of the UK House of Commons media committee, Damian Collins, told the BBC he has “grave doubts” about the effectiveness of Facebook’s content moderation systems. At the same time Google is facing a boycott by advertisers – concerned that their ads are showing alongside extremist and offensive material.

If these tech giants are having problems, it’s plain to see the technology isn’t advanced enough yet to allow an algorithm to fully moderate your community. However, we think it’s a wider issue than this.

Real moderators

We see that personal connections – real moderators – are central to good community moderation, as well as how people view the platform they are communicating on.

“In all the time we’ve been running we’ve only been made aware of two schools needing to moderate an issue. However, we can provide support if schools do need to get in touch”

“Ambassadors tell us that having the logo at the top helps, and that parents know the PTA can see the communications. The fact that Classlist is separate to other social media sites seems to make a difference too.”

– Clare Wright, Community development manager and Co-Founder of Classlist

“We have had a problem with Facebook with people putting inappropriate posts publicly and in private class groups. People wouldn’t put this stuff in an email, but when they are in social and share mode on Facebook they can lose their inhibitions.”

“We are stopping using Facebook groups and offering Classlist instead… I can already see that people treat it completely differently. It is a separate school based service and not mixed in with social media usage.”

– Louise Evans, Parent Governor, Hungerford Primary School  

What makes the difference on Classlist

We have a set of community guidelines that every parent agrees to on signing up, so it’s clear from the outset what the rules are. This helps to depersonalise the moderation role for the PTA – they can just say ‘it doesn’t meet Classlist’s community guidelines’.

The most helpful of these are:

  • Don’t use the website to complain about the school or individuals connected with the school.
  • Respect fellow class parents, which includes not using their contact details for marketing or professional purposes.

And so, any activity that doesn’t meet these guidelines should be taken down immediately.

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Head teachers often like the fact their parents are using Classlist as they know the guidelines can be used in this way. They also like the fact that Ambassadors can use the monitor community feature to see what’s going on – something that is not possible if the school has multiple Facebook or What’s App groups.

Ambassadors and Class Reps act as the moderators for their school’s Classlist site. Their first-hand knowledge of the parents and culture of their school community gives them a solid base for understanding issues and making decisions on where and how to respond.

And, with PTA Chairs, Class Reps and the PTA team normally taking to the site first they get to set the norms and expectations for communicating on the platform.

Parents can also report concerns. The ‘Report This User’ button is visible on every parent’s profile, which alerts our support team to investigate.

Powerful connections

These moderation features, together with real moderators, and a secure sign up process (only parents approved by the Ambassadors can join the site), is how Classlist provides schools communities with a secure space where parents can message each other.

We see this online connection can be really powerful and positive. People start helping each other out and supporting school fundraising efforts. Whether it’s locating the lost homework, a childcare/babysitting crisis, organising lift shares, volunteering their skills, and in many other ways too.


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