A moderated forum refers to an online forum for discussion where all posts are pre-approved by a moderator before being posted to the group. Some people prefer this type of forum to an unmoderated one, as the moderator can not only keep out spam, but also posts that are inappropriate, rude, offensive, or off-topic.
A moderated forum is sometimes preferable to an unmoderated one as the moderator has the power to keep spam out.
The Internet has always been known for its unmoderated and uncensored landscape. No one “owns” the Internet and no police service is responsible for controlling it. Rather, it is primarily built on voluntary cooperation, both at the network level and at the level of social interaction. To this end, most social forums on the Internet have a set of rules or protocols that members must follow.
Moderated forums may limit who can post or how often.
While the idea of voluntary cooperation is idealistically appealing to responsible people around the world and has been a great success, its strength is also its weakness. Irresponsible people may use unmoderated forums for their own purposes to harass, harangue, and otherwise thwart a forum’s rulebook, at least temporarily, by choosing to ignore netiquette. In most cases, trolls like this can be ignored and eventually moved on, but there are situations where a moderated forum is more productive.
A support group is an excellent example of good use of a moderated forum. People seeking help from others who may be suffering from illness or difficult circumstances are spared distractions by having a moderator who filters messages for the group. The moderator’s job is not to judge legitimate replies or posts for the group, but simply to prevent posts from entering that do not comply with the basic rules of the forum.
While the example above is particularly relevant, there are many forums dedicated to more idle topics that are also moderated. This is especially true now that web forums have become commonplace, routinely offered by website hosting providers to anyone who can point and click. This type of moderated forum is generally more select and the domain owner typically acts as a moderator in their own chat forum.
Other types of forums fall somewhere in between. Media sites such as news outlets or sites dedicated to specific television shows may allow all posts to go through, with a moderator reading them after the fact, perhaps within 48 hours. Offensive posts are then removed. In some cases, a moderator may not read posts unless someone complains. Another option exercised in managing a moderated forum is to use filtering software that removes posts that contain profanity or other questionable content.
Some people don’t appreciate a moderated forum, as the Internet has always represented the forefront of freedom. It is seen as a kind of censorship or policing in this case. However, internet traffic has grown tremendously since the mid-1990s, and with that huge growth comes a proportionate percentage of those who do not wish to respect netiquette.
A support group is a good example of using a moderated forum.