There is a commonly shared piece of wisdom that says: “Don’t read the comment section”. The reason is obvious. If there is a space online where people can post a comment, and that space is poorly moderated (or not moderated at all) things have the potential to get ugly. Good moderating of comments is vitally important.
The Longest Shortest Time podcast recently shut down its Facebook moms group. The podcast is hosted by Hillary Frank and produced by Abigail Keel. The show is described as “the parenting show for everyone”, so it makes sense that they would have a Facebook group for moms who are fans of the show. (It also had a Facebook dads group for fans of the show.)
According to an article at Neiman Lab, the moms Facebook group had 18,000 members. The same Neiman Lab article notes that not all of the people in that Facebook group were listeners of the show. Some joined simply because they enjoy parenting-related Facebook groups.
An article at The Cut notes that discussions taking place at the Facebook group got contentious after the size increased. It also notes (and I am summarizing greatly here) that the content of the discussions became more negative after things got political.
Between the two articles, it appears there was a point where Hillary Frank and Abigail Keel considered increasing the number of moderators. In the end, they decided to close the moms Facebook page in favor of focusing more time and energy on the podcast itself.
I once was a moderator for a podcast about a video game. The podcast did live shows. I found the experience of moderating the comments posted by people who were watching the live episode to be exciting and exhausting (at the same time). I learned that good moderation of comments was key to keeping the fans of a podcast engaged and invested.
I also learned that moderating comments is a difficult task. It is easy to make mistakes about what to allow and what to remove. It can be difficult to discern when a moderator should get involved. There are people who will complain about decisions made by a moderator – and that can make things stressful for both the moderator and the fans who read the angry comments.
What can podcasters learn from all this? Lack of moderation (of comments, Facebook fan groups, and forums) can lead to a lot of disgruntled listeners. Some people won’t want to return to a space that has become very negative. The plan you created to moderate a small group needs to expand as the group grows. Be proactive and add more moderators periodically as your fan base grows in number.