Moderator Tools for PubHubs

Moderator Tools for PubHubs is a project undertaken by Julian Foad for the PubHubs research team.

There are three sub-projects, introduced below and linked in the Moderation menu.

What is PubHubs?

PubHubs icon

PubHubs is a Dutch research project to enable real-world public organisations such as libraries, broadcasters, schools or health care to provide online group communications for local citizens in ways which match their real-world values and needs.

"PubHubs is not centered on individuals and their personal profiles, but on public organizations and their members as well as the publics they interact with." 1

  • Find more about PubHubs in the About -> PubHubs menu

Moderation Needs

Online discussion facilities need moderation tools. Each discussion group in PubHubs is hosted by a real-world organisation which, in providing a virtual space for the discussion, sets the rules in accordance with its own real-world rules and values, similar to how visitors would be expected to behave in person.

We need tools that can be used by discussion leaders, appointed moderators, and everyone present, to help keep behaviour within the rules and expectations, and to report and deal with unacceptable behaviour.

It is widely recognised that social issues, such as behaviour in a discussion, are best handled by social means, such as welcoming people and gently teaching them what is expected by the group. It is good to remember that tools and sanctions are secondary, not the final answer to any problem, but just there to help the people achieve their social needs.

PubHubs is presently built on Matrix technology. As such, the available moderation tools for Matrix provide a good starting point for the Matrix aspects. Other parts of the moderation tooling must be built to deal with non-Matrix parts of PubHubs such as its Yivi authentication system.

Aims of the Project

The aims as stated at the outset:

  • The practical, immediate aim is to integrate into PubHubs existing Matrix support for moderation ("Draupnir") and to adapt it to the characteristic features of PubHubs, namely Hub-specific pseudonyms and attribute-based authentication.

  • The research aim is to learn and share insights and techniques about managing moderation in PubHubs context.

Following our experience with integrating Draupnir at the beginning of the project, we adjusted course and made the subsequent PubHubs-specific feature development stand-alone instead of adapting Draupnir. We then decided the most useful direction for my effort in the remainder of the work would be to focus on creating a longer term higher level plan for guiding the development of moderation features in PubHubs.

Moderator Tools Work

The moderator tools work covered these areas:

  1. Civilised Discourse

    • Researching best practices to inform the longer term design of PubHubs moderation facilities.
  2. Disclosure of Identity Attributes

    • Building a moderation tool specific to PubHubs' special features.
  3. Draupnir for PubHubs

    • Adapting the best existing moderation tool from the regular Matrix ecosystem (Draupnir), evaluating and extending it.

(These were undertaken in the reverse order of their numbering here.)

About the Project

See the About menu for information about the project and related resources including:

Project Funding

Funding for my work on Moderator Tools for PubHubs comes from the Dutch government's support for open-source public-interest projects. I am most grateful for their support.

Open Source

PubHubs is an open source software project, built on open source technologies, and in the broader sense is a development for public benefit. All contributions from Moderator Tools for PubHubs are open source.