"Taking Care of a Fruit Tree": Nurturing as a Layer of Concern in Online Community Moderation

Bingjie Yu, Joseph Seering, Katta Spiel, Leon Watts

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Care in communities has a powerful influence on potentially disruptive social encounters. Practising care in moderation means exposing a group's core values, which, in turn, has the potential to strengthen identity and relationships in communities. Dissent is as inevitable in online communities as it is in their offline counterparts. However, dissent can be productive by sparking discussions that drive the evolution of community norms and boundaries, and there is value in understanding the role of moderation in this process. Our work draws on an exploratory analysis of moderation practices in the MetaFilter community, focusing on cases of intervention and response. We identify and analyse MetaFilter moderation with the metaphor: ``taking care of a fruit tree'', which is quoted from an interview with moderators on MetaFilter. We address the relevance of care as it is evidenced in these MetaFilter exchanges, and discuss what it might mean to approach an analysis of online moderation practices with a focus on nurturing care. We consider how HCI researchers might make use of care-as-nurture as a frame to identify multi-faceted and nuanced concepts characterising dissent and to develop tools for the sustainable support of online communities and their moderators.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Apr 2020


  • Care
  • Online Communities
  • Moderation
  • Community Norms
  • Empathy

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