Sites that depend on user-generated content often also depend on the same users to police the quality by flagging content. Is this flagging a natural expectation of a community, or is it asking too much of our users? Will flagging become yesterday’s technology and the butt of future jokes, like the 8-track cartridge?
According to YouTube, there are 13 hours of video uploaded every minute. The speed at which content is created is obviously beyond the scope where the company could pre-qualify every video. So, users who are logged in can flag videos that are inappropriate. YouTube even explained its flagging policy in a video (embedded below):
“We depend on you, the community, to read and understand our guidelines and flag content that you think violates them.”
Is it a scalable strategy to expect users to not only take the time to flag, but to understand what you consider against the rules? Bradley Horowitz, who has had high positions within Yahoo and Google, wrote almost three years ago about the 10 percent who synthesize content. Certainly, flagging works when enough users are dedicated to the community. It has long been a successful feature of Craigslist.Flagging works today, but the future may bring much better solutions. It could be technology that is better able to automatically filter. Or, the coming identity revolution could bring my reputation from site to site. With the benefit of hindsight, flagging could look like a lot of extra work. And yes, it could look like a relic of less advanced times, like the 8-track cartridges that thrift stores throw out.