How to automate your team's workflow and content moderation

Today, content is king. Learn how to automate your team’s workflow and content moderation to provide the best for your site and community.

Fidel Chaves
8 min read

Drupal as a CMS, workflows, and moderation

Before getting into how to automate your team’s workflow and content moderation, we should set some basics. Workflows and moderation for what? Well, those two terms correspond to Drupal add-ons and, at the same time, are everyday words.

 

I’ll go first with a quick Drupal introduction, then talk about your team’s workflow and the different kinds of content moderation, and finally, dive into how to automate that process.

 

First things first, what is Drupal?

 

Drupal is a content management system, or CMS, similar to WordPress. Without going into too much detail, Drupal CMS is free and open-source software that makes it easy to upload, manage, and publish digital content.

 

Drupal easily integrates into learning management systems (LMS) or commerce stores (with Drupal Commerce). However, my goal today is to review its utility for content-rich sites such as blogs, news sites, and digital communities.

 

You might think that content creation is a solitary activity, as it might be for many people out there, but that is not always the case. When you start scaling and producing massive amounts of content, you’ll need a standardized workflow.

Your team’s workflow

As I said before, you might be doing everything alone: researching, drafting, adding media, optimizing for SEO, interlinking, and publishing. If that’s the case, wow, you are the best! There might be a place for you at Awkbit. But that’s not everybody’s case.

 

On many big content production sites such as news sites or companies’ blogs, it is most likely that there is a multidisciplinary team of people working together to publish. That’s when a workflow becomes necessary. How do workflows actually work?

 

A workflow is a sequence of steps involved in moving from the beginning to the end of a working process (that’s not me, it’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary). How does that apply to content creation?

 

Before content sees the light, it probably passed through several steps, which might include:

 

  • Drafting
  • Technical review
  • Revisions
  • Copy editing
  • SEO review
  • Adding media
  • Final review
  • Publishing

 

Every step of this workflow can be performed by a different person. A subject matter expert prepares the draft; it then goes to the copywriting team for copy-editing; they hand it over to the SEO expert; finally, the designer adds the media. Once all this is done, the publisher pushes the final button to greenlight the new content.

 

Even if this process seems pretty straightforward, it is not often the case. Not every team has a dedicated person for each step. Sometimes content has to go back to previous stages, or maybe the publisher decides to edit an already published article.

 

That is why businesses use software like Drupal. While you might not know how to handle this situation, Drupal CMS does. With an automated architecture, it’s just a matter of clicks and choosing from a drop-down menu.

 

With the Workflows add-on or module for Drupal, you get all the functionalities necessary to speed up your team’s work. I am not sure it can be considered an agile team strategy, but it surely complies with the agile software development manifesto.

 

With this feature, you automatically know who has to do their homework, and each content node has an associated status that can be customized. You don’t do a technical review? No problem, don’t include that tag. Do you need to separate the adding image feature from the adding graph feature? Not an issue; just create two different status tags.

 

That’s all right for managing your workflow, but what about content moderation?

Kinds of content moderation

Content moderation has two faces that depend on the goals, the structure of your site, and how content is generated. I want to separate team content moderation from community content moderation. Let’s see why.

Team content moderation

If your site is more traditional, you probably care for your team's content moderation. Why is that? Because you, or your writing staff, are the only ones that can publish content on your site.

 

In this case, you can simply add the Content Moderation module for Drupal and let the person in charge review the content tagged as finished before publishing. Even if this function seems simple enough, it can be helpful when you want a person to greenlight everything before it comes out.

 

That allows a human filter for mistakes with a given ruleset for specific roles. You might let any of your writers advance in the workflow we described before, but just your editor, publisher, or moderator can hit that publish button.

 

Moderation can even be used in intermediate steps. Your SEO expert can check the SEO review; your graphic designer can check the add images step; and so on, assuring that every step of the workflow is completed and reviewed accordingly—kind of the Toyota kanban way of organizing.

 

But what about community content moderation?

Community content moderation

Community moderation is another type of beast. If you thought that managing a group of professionals to make them follow a given workflow was hard, wait to handle a wave of people, well-intentioned and otherwise, publishing on your site.

 

I talked wonders about the open-source community, but every people-driven platform out there has its problems. A site that grants control of everything that gets published seems like a blessing, especially after seeing the issues that communities pose.

 

When dealing with a community of people, you give them the power to express themselves publicly using your site or platform, and that can quickly turn into a Herculean task. First, you have to consider which kind of content you want to moderate.

 

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Live Streaming

 

You might think that this list goes by growing complexity to moderate, from text to live streaming, but the creativity used in a text, and the amount people can produce, might amaze you.

 

To moderate content from your users, you’ll need to establish a set of clear guidelines and what constitutes inappropriate content, which might vary depending on your public and interest topic.

 

Then, you’ll have to enforce these guidelines, to actually perform the moderation. You might be tempted to moderate all content or have a human greenlighting every bit that goes through your site, but that is simply not feasible. Here is where automation enters the game.

How to automate moderation

Let's say you have a big community and your moderators are already losing their eyes behind the computer all day. There is nothing to worry about. You can take some out of their plate and ease their workflow with automation.

 

I’ve mentioned different types of content that can be moderated: text, images, video, streaming… Each of them requires different filters, it’s not the same to regulate text than video. Text content can get really tricky using euphemisms and invented slurs or allegories used for evil purposes. Live streaming poses also a special problem by being live video.

 

In any case, you’ll probably have some content blatantly inappropriate and others obviously safe; the problem is, as with anything, the grey zone. *Twilight zone music on the background*

 

To avoid revising all the content manually, you can leverage AI or machine learning (depending on how you understand the technology) that filters everything that is overtly safe or overtly unsafe. Then you take a human to look at the grey zone.

 

Types of moderation can be divided then into:

  • Automated moderation: simple enough, a bot does it, but it can make mistakes.
  • Pre-moderation: every piece of content is reviewed before publishing. Tons of human effort is needed.
  • Post-moderation: users can publish, but then the content gets checked and removed if necessary, which can let a disturbing piece run free for too much time.
  • Reactive moderation: rely on users to mark inappropriate content that late is reviewed by moderators.
  • Distributed moderation: rely only on users, maybe with a rating system or dedicated flagging mechanisms. It works okay for spoilers, I guess.

 

So we’ve seen the most popular types of moderation, whether for internal use or within a community. We also reviewed how content moderation and a team workflow can be managed and automated using Drupal add-ons.

 

At Awkbit, we know how establishing a fast and stable workflow can be challenging, especially as the team grows and diversifies. We have also faced the challenge of moderating the content we produce and have helped others build sites where communities had to comply with specific guidelines. Are you willing to take a step toward automation? Do you need streamlined team workflow and content moderation?

Reach Out!

Sources & further reading