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How to build an effective QC program for content moderation

July 1, 2024 | Marketing & Operations

Providing the best content moderation services doesn’t just mean hiring good moderators. It also means having an effective quality control (QC) program to ensure your moderators are being properly trained, that client policies are being consistently applied, and that any errors are rapidly identified and corrected.

Ravi Yekkanti, manager of trust and safety at WebPurify, has over a decade of experience building robust QC programs for text moderation, image moderation, video moderation and more. Here he shares insights into how WebPurify structures its QC efforts to deliver accurate, high-quality moderation at scale for clients worldwide.

How to be a content moderator

WebPurify’s Training Director Ravi

Sending test images

One of the most important tools that WebPurify uses to keep the quality of its moderation high is testing. This means that in addition to auditing live moderation decisions about actual client content, WebPurify also inserts pre-determined test images, videos and text into moderation queues using a proprietary tool called Montage.

“This happens on a daily basis,” explains Ravi. “The most important thing is that moderators don’t know which is the test image and which is the live image, nor when test images will be sent. So it’s the perfect blind assessment.”

He adds that testing serves three key purposes for WebPurify. The first is testing moderator comprehension after new policy training. “It means we can see how well they took to the training, based on whether moderators correctly applied the new guidelines.”

A second is that moderators remain sharp when it comes to rarer, fringe cases. “Many client content policies only very rarely need to be enforced in the real queue,” notes Ravi. “So we insert tests for these scenarios to keep moderators’ memories fresh and prevent complacency.”

For example, a client might say they don’t want us to allow pictures of children smoking. “But in all likelihood, very few people are likely to post such images. On the one day they do, though, you want your moderators to be alert to the policy, so regular testing can help there.”

A third reason is to simply check that moderators are doing their job. “Some test images are very straightforward, with obvious violations made front and center,” explains Ravi. “If someone misses those and approves the content, that’s a sign they’re not being diligent. So we want to keep moderators on their toes.”

Implementing feedback loops

Another tool in WebPurify’s arsenal is known as feedback loops. This means that when an auditor identifies a moderator mistake on either real content or an inserted test, they respond quickly to prevent repeat errors.

These feedback loops allow supervisors to promptly correct knowledge gaps, counteract the influence of moderators’ personal biases creeping into decisions, and ensure consistent, accurate moderation.

“Our QC team doesn’t need to wait for trainers: they’re empowered to discuss the mistake with the moderator, understand their perspective, and provide a refresher on the policy themselves,” explains Ravi. “The key role they play here is getting moderators realigned on properly implementing guidelines.”

Setting the ratio of checks

Given the sheer volume of user-generated content on many websites, moderators can’t double-check everything. So a key aspect of an effective QC program is determining what percentage of approved and rejected content should get a second look. Ravi explains that WebPurify typically uses a 60/40 ratio, with the specific split depending on the client’s priorities.

“If the client is worried about user satisfaction and doesn’t want users getting upset over rejected content, we’ll check 60% of rejected content and 40% of accepted,” he explains. “But if they want to be more conservative about what’s allowed, we’ll flip it to checking 60% accepted and 40% rejected.”

Speed of content moderation

Making use of data

Another important aspect of WebPurify’s QC program is that it generates a wealth of data that WebPurify’s analysts can parse to optimize processes at multiple levels. Using techniques such as root cause analysis, they can identify the specific reasons individual moderators or entire teams are making errors.

“It’s not just about reviewing the same content the moderator did,” explains Ravi. “It’s putting an analytical lens on it to understand what step in the process was missed that led to the mistake.

“If we spot a trend of errors around a specific policy, that’s a clear signal we need to retrain moderators on it, do refreshers, and insert more test cases,” he continues. “Having all this data makes it easy to systematically identify and address problem areas.”

The data gathered is also used by individual teams to populate dashboards and reports comparing moderator and team leader performance. This visibility provides useful insights for incentivizing high achievers, retraining underperformers, and illuminating policies that need further clarification or training.

QC is a scientific method

Ultimately, Ravi stresses that effective quality control for content moderation should be viewed as a rigorous, scientific discipline that’s continually being refined and advanced.

“To really excel in this role, you need an academic mindset and appetite to learn tools and methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, root cause analysis, and other quality control processes,” he says. “It’s not just about moderating individual pieces of content: there’s a depth of analysis required.”

He adds that WebPurify provides training opportunities for quality analysts to develop these skills through courses and certifications. This combination of human moderators paired with robust, ever-improving QC protocols enables them to deliver accurate, consistent content moderation that’s customized to each client’s needs.

“Our experience has shown you can’t have effective content moderation without a thoughtful, diligent quality control program behind it,” says Ravi. “It’s just as important as the moderation itself, if not more so. You need both working in concert to truly protect communities at scale.”

By investing in comprehensive QC efforts like those outlined above, WebPurify is ensuring its content moderation operations embody the quality and caliber that clients and users expect from this increasingly essential discipline.