There have been a few questions in the past week about why Narrative requires that Niche moderators be Certified. Let me walk through the thought process behind that requirement.
There were two primary reasons, but I'll start with the biggest reason first:
1. Protecting Children
Niche moderators will be able to screen all new content posted to their Niche prior to allowing the content to be published on the Niche. The idea is to allow new content to be sandboxed before it is seen. Now, keep in mind that each Niche decides whether it wants/needs to prescreen new content like that and we of course have no way of knowing how many Niches will operate that way.
However, the Niche content review queues are, in fact, the first line of defense for each niche and are DESIGNED to catch questionable content that does not belong in the niche.
If we allow underage members to access these review queues, we are potentially exposing them to content that they normally would not see. We have an entire system devoted to age-rating content, with the express intention of protecting kids, so to us it seems like a giant hole in the protection system if we allow kids to manage/access these Niche review queues.
Basically, we are trying to keep kids off of the front line of content review.
Now, having said that, we realized that we have not been clear that Niche moderators would not only have to be Certified but also 18+. We would clarify that in our docs/systems later.
Note that we also plan to require Certified 18+ members for accessing/voting on content in the AUP Content Review Queue.... for the exact same reason- we do not want kids accessing the questionable content in Narrative. (When members report content in the future (for AUP violations), the reported content will go into a HQ Review Queue, where the community votes to determine if the content truly violates the AUP.)
Thus, if we require 18+ members for the general AUP Content Review Queue, in our opinion it is inconsistent to allow minors to access niche-specific review queues (even though the review purpose is not the same).
2. Prevent Fake Moderators
A secondary reason for requiring Certification is to eliminate the incentives for people to create bots or fake accounts to acquire as many niche moderator gigs as possible, for the primary purpose of generating rewards income.
This is not as big of a concern, because we think that Reputation will be a huge factor in Niche moderator elections, but many smaller niches may have a limited number of nominees and thus this could be an issue.
Requiring Certification effectively solves the problem.
To be clear though, the primary reason for requiring Certification for Niche moderators is the first one-- the issue of kids being the first line of defense in screening potentially questionable content. We want to avoid a scenario where bad actors post content intended for adults in niches that clearly do not cater to adults. A child moderating a pokemon niche should not be reviewing renegade erotica posts (or worse).
We're definitely open to other ideas to solve the problem, but we must ensure that kids are protected as much as possible, especially in this kind of review/oversight role. Note that we have had internal discussions about some potential alternatives, which we will share if/when they become more clearly defined, but for now Certification is the easiest way to mitigate the problem(s).
One thing I want to be clear on though is that we are not trying to create artificial barriers. In fact, we want LOTS of moderators to fulfill the mission of content review, but it's also fair to say that those moderators have to meet certain criteria and/or assume greater risk (in terms of access to content before others).
I hope this clarifies things for everyone! Our apologies if we failed to communicate the reasons adequately. If we can find a better solution, we are definitely open to it, and as I mentioned above we are actively discussing possibilities internally as well.