Much of my social media writing is concerned with improving public sociology (bringing sociology to new audiences outside academia) and with public science outreach (improving ties between scientists and the public, as well as strengthening science literacy).
Aside from my websites, I also help to moderate several large science communities on a volunteer basis. These have a collective audience of well over 1 million members. Additionally, I manage social media accounts professionally as part of my consultancy work. My approach for clients is tailored to their audience, but the general principles of not accepting or engaging with abuse are similar. Abusive comments derail discussions, and they make minority groups feel unwelcome. In the spirit of inclusion, abusive comments do nothing for education. Abuse should not be allowed to fester, which means addressing it proactively. (See my commenting policy.)
Most women writing about sexism, science, technology or other inequalities will attest to how de-motivating it is that social media sites and website moderators do not take online safety seriously.
Fostering a robust community means creating a space where everyone feels safe to contribute. Few of the most visible science websites, including sociology websites, are moderated properly. Writers rarely contribute to the comments, and moderators do not always shape the conversation. In many cases, moderators fail to address sexism, racism and other comments that marginalise minority members. This is the antithesis of what sociology and public science should be about.
I often write about my experience as a community moderator, especially sharing these on Twitter. I occasionally write longer posts describing some of the issues and strategies I use, as well as providing more context for my philosophy on comment management. You can read some of these posts below if you’d like to learn more about why and how I moderate comments, as well as the science of how the public engages with sociology and science on social media.
I’ll add more to this page over time, but for now click on the images or scroll down for my other posts and resources on how I use sociological principles to moderate comments, and to make sense of my experience as a community moderator.