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43 Things Neighborhood Watch: Member Voting to Manage Spam

Since its roll out in December of 2004, 43 Things has won a webby, experienced steady growth and most importantly, formed a very engaged and interactive community of users who volunteer to help garden the community. Though it keeps a low profile, 43 Things is a community success story - they're approaching their millionth member and "thing".

Like so many sites, 43 Things is increasingly the target of spammers and trolls. Instead of hiring more people to patrol the site, the Robot Coop (a team of 6 managing 5 large sites) have enlisted the help of the members in identifying and voting on which accounts should be suspended for bad behavior in a feature called “Neighborhood Watch�?, which is part of their new City Hall.

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In Neighborhood Watch, a subset of community members “in good standing�? can vote to “suspend�? or “keep�? the user account (others can't see the feature at all). It’s a little bit like Digg for managing the community’s users.

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I’ve voted on a few accounts myself and it’s a slick process; even fun in some ways. When a member (or their anti-spam bot) reports a spammer or troll via a “report this user�? link on user profiles, it gets added to a queue with a description. The voting member in Neighborhood Watch can then view the complaint, the offending content and vote on whether or not the user should be suspended or kept. Further they’ve built secret sauce into the system to prevent gaming.

These features were rolled out yesterday as part of a larger part of the site called “City Hall�?. I love the theme of members working together for the good of the community - people identify with the idea quite easily. If Neighborhood Watch works, as I think it will, it will be a great model for other sites.

A last note - the City Hall also has their new community guidelines which are worth a look. My favorite: You should not be creepy.

Disclosure: Common Craft and the Robots are friends and have done some work together, which means I'm a little biased.