Volunteer content moderators are essential to the social media ecosystem through the roles they play in managing and supporting online social spaces. Recent work has described moderation primarily as a functional process of actions that moderators take, such as making rules, removing content, and banning users. However, the nuanced ways in which volunteer moderators envision their roles within their communities remain understudied. Informed by insights gained from 79 interviews with volunteer moderators from three platforms, we present a conceptual map of the territory of social roles in volunteer moderation, which identifies five categories with 22 metaphorical variants that reveal moderators’ implicit values and the heuristics that help them make decisions. These metaphors more clearly enunciate the roles volunteer moderators play in the broader social media content moderation apparatus and can drive purposeful engagement with volunteer moderators to better support the ways they guide and shape their communities.
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- online communities